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European broadcasters’ alliance criticises Denmark over DR budget slashes

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European broadcasters’ alliance criticises Denmark over DR budget slashes
Cutbacks at DR have drawn criticism from the European Broadcasting Union. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
12:13 CEST+02:00
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has released a statement in which it expressed concern over cuts at Denmark’s public service broadcaster DR.

The EBU, an alliance of public service media organisations with 119 member organisations in 56 countries in Europe and an additional 34 associates worldwide, said it was concerned at “political attempts to drastically narrow and alter the accepted broad remit of public service media” in a statement posted to its website.

“We are deeply concerned by the budget cuts that have forced DR to announce the closure of a significant number of public media services,” EBU director general Noel Curran said in a written comment provided to The Local.

“DR is hugely valued by audiences in Denmark and has built amongst the highest market share and weekly reach of all public service media organisations in Europe,” Curran added.

The government earlier this year passed a bill providing for the new public service broadcasting contract with the parliamentary support of the Danish People's Party.

Up to 400 people will lose their jobs as DR makes annual budget cuts of 420 million kroner by 2020 to comply with the contract, the broadcaster confirmed earlier this week.

DR’s six television stations will be reduced in number to three, while three radio stations will also close in the scaling-down.

“The 20 percent budget cuts imposed on DR will undoubtedly impact its ability as a national broadcaster to offer the same wide range of output to audiences across Denmark,” Curran said.

The contract for public service broadcasting between the Danish Ministry of Culture and DR, which was published by the ministry on Tuesday, also contains provisions on DR’s remit.

These include a restriction on publishing long-form written journalism on its website and a statement emphasising the importance of Christianity, while previous wording on the broadcaster’s role in promoting integration was watered down.

READ ALSO: Christianity in, integration out in new guidelines for Danish public broadcaster

“For the audience, such restrictions will limit diversity and access to programmes that are relevant to their lives while fostering social cohesion and understanding at a time when this is more important than ever,” the EBU said in its statement on the budget cuts.

“Moreover, there is compelling evidence that market forces alone do not deliver consumers an offer of media services that contribute to the sense of belonging to a nation, region or continent,” the statement, signed by the organisation’s executive board, added.

Representatives from the BBC and Sveriges Radio are among the signatories on the executive board, as are members from broadcasters in Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Malta.

“The common set of values pledged by EBU Members… reflect institutions that, with a proper remit and funding, can provide compelling and cohesive programming with the interests of all their publics at heart. They are also a mirror for healthy democracies where all have a right to be informed, entertained and educated with a broad range of diverse programming,” the statement read.

The EBU executive board added that “this is the moment for public service media to be firmly positioned in the front row and empowered to fully play their role”.

READ ALSO: What next for broadcaster DR after far-reaching cuts?

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