Danish journalists face prison for credit card snooping

Two former editors of gossip magazine Se og Hør could each face two years in prison for their roles in what is widely considered to be Denmark’s largest ever media scandal.

Danish journalists face prison for credit card snooping
Henrik Qvortrup arriving at Glostrup District Court on Thursday. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix
Henrik Qvortup, the magazine’s former editor and one of Denmark’s most prominent political commentators, is accused of masterminding the illegal monitoring of credit cards belonging to Danish royals and celebrities.
“Qvortup was the man who got the idea and arranged the illegal agreement,” prosecutor Henrik Uhl Pedersen said in Glostrup District Court on Thursday, according to news agency Ritzau. 
The so-called ‘Se og Hør case’ came to light in 2014 when former journalist Ken B. Rasmussen published a purportedly fictional book detailing how gossip magazine Se og Hør used credit card information to write stories about members of the royal family.
After a police probe, prosecutors filed charges against eight people as well as magazine owner Aller Media. 
The magazine paid an employee within the credit card company Nets to provide journalists with credit card records. The illegally-obtained information led to a series of celebrity scoops for the magazine, including one about Danish Prince Joachim's 2008 honeymoon in Canada, which had been kept secret.
Among the others whose private information was accessed by the gossip mag are PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen and actor Mads Mikkelsen. 
Police also suspect that current and former Se og Hør employees paid sources within the police, the Royal House and at Copenhagen Airport to provide information about the comings and goings of celebrities. 
In addition to Qvortrup, who is still working as a high-profile journalist, another former Se og Hør editor-in-chief, Kim Henningsen, is also facing a potential two-year sentence. 
Prosecutors are pushing for a three-year sentence for the 47-year-old Nets employee, who has become known in the Danish media as “the hush-hush source”. 
The authors facing an indictment, including Ken B Rasmussen, face shorter sentences ranging from eight to 18 months. 
Twenty days have been set aside for the Se og Hør trial, with verdicts expected on November 24th.
Many observers have drawn parallels with Britain's News of the World, which was shut down by Rupert Murdoch in July 2011 following allegations of widespread phone hacking.


Denmark’s news media suffer as country’s viewing, reading habits change

Although the general economy in Denmark is strong, the country’s media industry experienced reduced turnover between 2016 and 2017.

Denmark’s news media suffer as country’s viewing, reading habits change
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The figures, released by the culture ministry’s Agency for Culture and Palaces on Tuesday, show a three percent fall in turnover between 2016 and 2017, from 29.3 billion kroner to 28.5 billion kroner.

Print media such as magazines, daily newspapers, local newspapers and weeklies were hit particularly hard during the period, and even television and streaming experienced a four percent loss of turnover in 2017.

But publishers and radio saw growth during the same period, according to the ministry analysis.

Agency for Culture and Palaces special consultant Anders Sebastian Kauffeldt said that there had been a clear change in media consumption habits in Denmark.

“It is obvious that Danes’ media habits are changing apace. We are reading fewer print newspapers, and more and more of us are using foreign streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, rather than watching television on traditional channels,” Kauffeldt said in a press statement.

“That trend is hitting the media industry particularly hard, and it saw an overall three percent loss of turnover in 2017,” he added.

“Worst-hit were news and current affairs media like daily and local newspapers, which saw a decrease of six percent,” he continued.

The analysis also shows that a relatively small number of Danish and foreign media companies are responsible for the majority of the country’s media turnover.

Two prominent Danish corporations, JP/Politikens Hus and Egmont, constitute 32 percent of the country’s total media takings. Both companies have a turnover of over 1 billion kroner.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of people who work in Denmark’s media industry live within the greater Copenhagen area.

READ ALSO: Danes spend almost one third of the day consuming media: report