THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The top editors at the Dutch national broadcaster’s sports department have stepped down amid reports that there was a culture of inappropriate behavior and bullying among staff spanning more than two decades, the broadcaster said Monday.
The move followed a report last week compiled by external experts who were asked to look into behavior at NOS Sport amid a wider investigation into the public broadcasting network following another high-profile case last year alleging workplace bullying at a flagship early evening talk show.
“The inventory report contains reports of bullying, (sexual) intimidation, discrimination, verbal aggression and integrity issues over a period of more than 20 years,” NOS said in an initial reaction last week.
At the time, the broadcaster said that the editorial leadership of the sports department would step down at an unspecified date in the future. But following reports in Dutch media over the weekend about the working conditions at NOS Sport, the four top editors said they would step down immediately.
“Due to the discussions we have had over the past few days about the results of the inventory, the previously announced phased withdrawal has sped up,” General director of NOS Gerard Timmer said in a statement Monday. “We are now entering a phase in which we will look at what the sports department needs in the short term and in the future.”
Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reported in its weekend edition that it had spoken to 32 people, including current and former staffers at NOS Sport, and found a culture “in which women felt unsafe and where reports of (sexually) transgressive behavior were not taken seriously.”
NOS Sport is the country’s major sports broadcaster, covering major international events including the Olympics and the soccer World Cup.
NPO, the umbrella organization for Dutch public broadcasters, said it supported the decision for NOS Sport leaders to step down.
“There should be no room for transgressive behavior in public broadcasting,” NPO said in a statement. “It is vital that everyone feels supported not to accept and to correct inappropriate behavior in the workplace, but also that everyone feels safe enough to speak up about it.”
The independent commission of inquiry was established last year following the reported bullying at De Wereld Draait Door — The World Keeps Turning — a popular talk show that ran for years on the public broadcast network. The commission is aiming to publish its final report by the summer.