Public broadcaster DR’s decision to shutter a 75-year-old orchestra
has ruffled feathers since it was announced in September. Now it looks like it might not happen after all.
A political majority is against the decision to close down the 42-person Danish National Chamber Orchestra (DR’s UnderholdningsOrkestret), putting Culture Minister Marianne Jelved in an awkward position.
When Jelved sits down with DR officials later this month to discuss the broadcaster’s new public-service contract, she will do so knowing that there is a majority in parliament that opposes DR’s budget cutting decision. But getting overly involved in DR’s operations goes against the ‘arms’ length principle' in place between the Danish state and the public broadcaster.
Opposition parties Venstre, the Danish People’s Party and the Conservatives, along with the left-wing Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) are all against the move and they say that Jelved simply can’t ignore the political resistance to shutting down the orchestra.
“When they go to negotiate the public-service contract, they need to have all [of parliament] on board. We might as well say it once and for all: the Danish National Chamber Orchestra will not be shut down,” Enhedslisten’s Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr told DR’s news division.
Arbo-Bæhr called it “immoral” that DR is moving to close down the orchestra despite being obligated to operate it under the public-service contract, which is periodically renovated with the Culture Ministry.
The ruling Social Democrats said politicians should not interfere with how DR meets its budget goals and reminded his colleagues that they are the ones who reached a media agreement that called for DR to cut millions from its operating budget.
“It was the conservative parties that took the lead in relation to DR’s cuts and limitations. So I find it hard to understand why they don’t subsequently have confidence in, and respect for, the savings plan that the management has put forth. For me, it’s all a bit hypocritical and populist,” Social Democrat spokesman Troels Ravn told DR.
The proposed closing of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra was part of a plan to cut 161 million kroner per year from DR’s budget. In addition to eliminating the orchestra, DR also called for the elimination of up to 200 jobs.