Challenge for Public Service in Denmark

Public Service television and radio in Denmark has been challenged after the General Manager of DR Tuesday was fired after 10 years in office because of an unexpected budget deficit in a new multimedia house in Copenhagen. The now former General Manager Christian S. Nissen is a person, who at the first hand was strongly in favour of Public Service Broadcast and fought for it not only in Denmark but through EBU also in Europe, where he managed to put it up in the top of the agenda. At the second hand he carried through a management change of DR, which was necessary for its survival, but among his tools were hundreds of fired colleagues. For that reason he in reality caused a 4 week long journalist-strike during collective bargaining in 2002

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, chairman of the Danish Union of Journalists has often criticised his staff policy, but recognizes, that Christian S. Nissen has done a very important job for public service and editorial freedom, and he had fought against a more and more political board with several members, who wanted to interfere in the editorial freedom. Thus Blicher Bjerregård last week in Berlingske Tidende raised awareness and called for a professional board with no interfere in the editorial freedom.

Several commentators in Denmark believe that a bad climate between Christian S. Nissen and the chairman of the board was a key reason for the firing. Now the board must show that this situation will not lead to less editorial freedom and to less public service. "The two Danish public broadcast TV-stations (DR and TV 2) have together more than 75% of the viewers - divided fifty-fifty, because they are two full scale high quality public service TV, and it is essential, that a new general manager will continue this line," Mogens Blicher Bjerregård says