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Swiss public broadcaster examines more cases of sexual harassment

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has launched an independent investigation into sexual harassment at the French-language Swiss public radio and television, RTS, following cases reported in the media. The Italian-language public broadcaster has also opened a separate enquiry into complaints.

On November 25, the Italian-speaking arm of Swiss Public Television, RSI, announced that it had launched an investigation by an external body into complaints of bullying, sexual harassment and invasion of privacy. As of November 25, the media employee union SSM in Ticino had received 32 complaints from RSI employees.

This follows an earlier investigation into RTS announced on November 4 by the SBC board of directors. The aim of that enquiry is to establish the chain of responsibility at French-language RTS for cases of sexual harassment. Two accused RTS executives have been suspended.

Referring to the suspensions, the RTS management said it had taken these “concrete and immediate measures” after meeting a representative of the Swiss Media Workers Union, who demanded immediate action against sexual harassment and bullying.

The RTS management wrote to employees, saying it was aware that many people had not been listened to and that it deeply regretted this.

The SBC, swissinfo.ch’s parent company, condemned harassment “in the strongest terms” and regretted that company employees had been subjected to such behaviour, it said in a statement on November 4. 

The board also issued a mandate for improving the system for reporting cases of harassment. The independent investigation aims to assess and improve the existing tools available to employees across the SBC for such cases.

Former star presenter

On October 31, the French-speaking Swiss newspaper Le Temps revealed, citing anonymous sources, that there had been bullying and sexual harassment at RTS for years. Three employees were accused, including former star television presenter Darius Rochebin. He has denied the accusations.

The management and staff managers at RTS had consistently turned a blind eye, the paper reported.

“We made a mistake,” said SBC Director General Gilles Marchand in an interview with Le Temps. Marchand, who was director of RTS when an executive was accused of sexual harassment in 2014, admitted that the investigation had not been comprehensive enough.