VRT boss sacked in broadcaster autonomy row

15th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

15 September 2006, BRUSSELS — The controversial head of Flemish TV and radio broadcaster VRT, Tony Mary, was fired on Friday, and replaced on a provisional basis by Piet Van Roe.

15 September 2006

BRUSSELS — The controversial head of Flemish TV and radio broadcaster VRT, Tony Mary, was fired on Friday, and replaced on a provisional basis by Piet Van Roe.

The move came after a series of rows between Mary and the Flemish government that plunged relations beyond reconciliation. A general assembly of Flemish ministers and the chairman of the board of VRT directors was hurriedly convened on Friday and promptly voted to suspend Mary's contract.

VRT broadcasts in Dutch and is subsidised by the Flemish northern half of the federal Belgian state.

Tensions had escalated on Thursday when Mary announced he would call for an industrial tribunal to rule against the Flemish government and the VRT's board of directors over what he claimed was political interference in the 'Flikken' television drama about Ghent police.

Flemish Media Minister Geert Bourgeois responded by calling for an emergency government meeting to deal with the "intolerable situation", which in turn ordered the VRT general assembly.

"Mr Mary says he is defending the VRT, but he is summoning that very same VRT, his own employer, on among others things his financial bonus," Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois had severely criticised Mary after VRT closed a deal with telecoms operator Belgacom to broadcast Flikken on digital pay TV first.

Bourgeois said that as the free-to-air VRT operated with public money, it should not make its 6 million viewers pay to see their favourite television series. VRT's board of management agreed on Monday to reverse the deal with Belgacom.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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