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.