Danish broadcaster under fire for using public funds to send journo’s horse to US

Danish public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) was forced to apologize on Wednesday after being roundly criticized for spending 69,226 kroner to transport the horse of correspondent Johannes Langkilde’s wife to Washington, DC.

Danish broadcaster under fire for using public funds to send journo’s horse to US
DR said it was a "misjudgment" to spend 70,000 kroner of licence money to ship Langkilde's wife's horse to the US. Photo: Bjarke Bo Olsen/Scanpix
The revelation immediately re-ignited a long-running debate about DR’s mandatory licence fee. In Denmark, anyone over the age of 18 who owns a TV or an internet-equipped computer, smartphone or tablet is required to pay the annual fee, which in 2017 is 2,477 kroner.
DR collects around 84 percent of the approximately 4.3 billion kroner generated each year in licence fees, so the broadcaster’s decision to use 70,000 kroner on what many would consider an unnecessary expense raised more than a few eyebrows. 
Newly-named Culture Minister Mette Bock of the Liberal Alliance, a party that has been an outspoken critic of the mandatory licence fee, called DR’s decision to fund the horse's journey to Washington “bizarre”.
“It’s bizarre that one should transport a spouse’s animal halfway around the world because someone got a job as a correspondent. But I will wait and let DR explain the matter. Personally, I think that if this turns out to be true, DR has made itself incredibly vulnerable to criticism,” she told TV2. 
After additional criticism poured in from one political party after another, DR’s news director Ulrik Haagerup said paying for the horse transport was a mistake. 
“We made a misjudgment by paying the costs of transporting a horse and that is something beyond what is reasonable, even though the total relocation costs were within what is completely okay and normal,” Haagerup said in an interview with his own network. 
He emphasized that it was DR, not Langkilde himself, who made the mistake. 
Others echoed that sentiment, saying that Langkilde is a highly-respected journalist who did a good job as DR’s American correspondent. He is due to return to Copenhagen to host DR’s nightly news programme TV Avisen. 
He’ll have to pay to bring his wife’s horse back to Denmark himself, Haagerup said. 

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Why has Denmark made a children’s TV show about the ‘world’s longest penis’?

The everyday adventures of new Danish kids' TV character John Dillermand like walking the dog or going to the zoo might not look like the stuff of scandal -- if the tales didn't often revolve around his oversized penis.

Why has Denmark made a children’s TV show about the 'world's longest penis'?
An image from the first episode of 'John Dillermand'. Photo: DR/Louise Bergholt Sørensen

Even in one of the world's most progressive countries, the stories of the man with “the world's longest willy” have sparked debate about just what is appropriate for children in the programme's target audience of four- to eight-year-olds.

“We think it's important to be able to tell stories about bodies,” public broadcaster DR posted on Facebook Tuesday.

“In the series, we recognise (young children's) growing curiosity about their bodies and genitals, as well as embarrassment and pleasure in the body.”

Broadcast on kids' channel Ramasjang, the first of Dillermand's 13 episodes has already been watched 140,000 times since it was released on January 2nd.

His extra-long member is often key to the wacky situations in which he finds himself at one point floating over the city thanks to balloons tied to his tackle.

“It's a very Danish show. We have a tradition to push the limits and use humour and we think it's totally normal,” education expert Sophie Munster told AFP.

With some members of the public posting outrage online, far-right MP Morten Messerschmidt attacked the show in a Facebook post.

“I don't think looking at adult men's genitalia should be turned into something normal for children. Is this what you call public service?” he fumed.

Munster argued however: “The debate is from an adult perspective, in which the long penis is sexualised. Children have a different perspective.

“The size of the penis is exaggerated so much, children realise it's a joke.”

The series can be watched via broadcaster DR's website.

READ ALSO: Danish zoo invites kids to watch lion dissection (2015)