Right wing public broadcaster spread wrongful information: ombudsman

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Right wing television channel Ongehoord Nederland (ON) has broken the public broadcasting sector’s journalistic code of ethics by spreading wrongful information and not differentiating between fact and opinion, the broadcasting ombudsman said on Tuesday.

Margo Smit was responding to a string of complaints about the broadcaster’s programming since it was admitted to the public system (NPO) in January. ON (the Netherlands’ unheard) is closely aligned with far-right parties such as Geert Wilders’s PVV and Forum voor Democratie and has been described as a Dutch version of Fox News.

‘Journalistic programmes on public channels are not an open platform and presenters are not there to facilitate this,’ Smit said in her ruling. ‘But this is what ON does regularly.’

ON’s founder, Arnold Karskens, said in a statement that he ‘completely supports the programmes’ the broadcaster has made to date.  ‘We do understand that some people will have to get used to hearing different opinions and interpretations of the facts that those which the public system offers,’ he said.

Media minister Gunay Uslu said that it is up to the NPO itself to decide what action, if any, to take.


Last year, the Dutch council for culture recommended that two new initiatives be admitted to the public broadcasting system – Omroep Zwart and Ongehoord Nederland. ON provides a voice for people who feel estranged from politics and public services, the council said at the time.

Aspiring public broadcasters need to accumulate 50,000 members in order to qualify for inclusion in the system.

In total, by June 1 the ombudsman had 146 emails accusing the broadcaster of being partisan, broadcasting racism and spreading disinformation.

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