New action plan to tackle transgressive behaviour in media sector

New action plan to tackle transgressive behaviour in media sector
Minister Dalle presenting the plan. Credit: Benjamin Dalle's cabinet

A new action plan with an emphasis on prevention has been launched to tackle transgressive behaviour in the media sector more efficiently and more quickly.

The proposal, created by media players and Flemish Minister of Media, Benjamin Dalle, includes a number of actions and responds to various forms of transgressive behaviour, including sexual transgression and abuse of power, by focussing on both confidants and bystanders.

"This is a very clear signal from the sector. Things have been piling up in recent years. That's why I think it's so important that this plan was really shaped by the sector," Dalle said in a statement. "The commitment of all players is needed to make this a success, to make a fist together against transgressive behaviour."

In January, participants of the show The Voice of Holland shared testimonies of behind-the-scenes sexual abuse by coaches, a director and a bandleader, leading to a flood of reactions from the cultural and media sector. The show is currently suspended while an independent investigation is ongoing. such incidents are believed to be more prevalent than is known in the sector.

Tweet Translation: "There needs to be a real and deep cultural shift in the media sector. Satisfied that we are going to tackle this together with the sector."

To tackle this problem and help organisations that want to develop a policy on transgressive behaviour, the plan responds to the need for clear and concrete guidelines. It focuses on prevention through the creation of a toolbox tailored to the Flemish media sector.

Aside from this knowledge-sharing, which will be done in part by larger companies that already have an integrity policy, guidance programs will be set up to provide customised guidance to ensure that there is a "real cultural shift in the media sector."

The Flemish Government is making an additional €100,000 available to roll out the plan.

Activating bystanders

The plan also gives bystanders a central role by offering tools and manuals to activate bystanders and train them to deal with any transgressive behaviour they witness.

"Bystanders who witness undesirable behaviour have a responsibility to assist those affected," said Jan Vermoesen, director of Mediarte, the social fund for the audiovisual, film and digital sector which will coordinate the plan.

"With this plan, we want to provide witnesses with the necessary tools to respond appropriately. Many employers want to respond to transgressive behaviour but do not know how to do it. With this plan, we can help them do that."

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A flag system will be designed to make clear to people what constitutes transgressive behaviour, while more intimacy coordinators, who watch over the mental and physical safety of the entire cast and crew on a set, will be deployed. These are already well established (and mandatory) with international players such as Netflix and HBO, but relatively new in Flanders.

Finally, a manual will be created by the Flemish Association of Journalists (VJJ) and Sensoa stating how matters of transgressive behaviour can be dealt with in a more nuanced and respectful way by reporters and the media.

The action plan will be the subject of a report to be delivered by Mediarte by March next year at the latest, after which an assessment can be made as to whether the action plan needs to be followed up and what can be implemented.

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