Presenter Tom Egbers has shown transgressive and intimidating behavior in the editorial office of NOS Sport, wrote de Volkskrant. The newspaper is aware of “several situations” towards women in the newsroom, according to sources in an extensive article on culture at NOS Sport.
Egbers is said to have had a brief affair with a 22-year-old female intern at NOS Sport in 2005. The anchor allegedly harassed her until she responded to his advances. After the affair ended, the newspaper reported that the situation escalated and Egbers began harassing the woman. In front of several colleagues, he called her “the axis of evil,” “the poison” and “snake.” He also made the hand gesture every time she walked past him, pretending to cut someone’s throat. The employee reported the situation to the editor-in-chief in late 2009. The incidents described were confirmed by several sources, according to the newspaper.
The NOS Sport presenter expressed regret for his behavior in de Volkskrant. He also regrets the relationship he had with the woman. “I look back on this whole period as an exceptionally sad time in which I made mistakes. I regret that. Unfortunately, I can’t undo it.”
When asked whether the NOS is taking measures against Egbers, a spokesperson replied that the broadcaster will talk to all employees mentioned in the article in de Volkskrant.
The woman also told editors-in-chief that she was approached by Janke Dekker, Egbers’ wife, in 2008. Under pressure, she said, she admitted to her the affair, which by then had ended. Dekker is chairman of MORES, the hotline for undesirable behavior in the cultural and creative industries. According to de Volkskrant, this is also the reason why several NOS Sport employees have not reported wrongdoings through this hotline. As the newspaper reported, they did not trust that the complaints would be investigated independently. Earlier, it was revealed that Dekker’s duties will be taken over by another person until April, as she is busy with other work. MORES could not be reached for comment Friday evening.
In the article, former anchor Aïcha Marghadi also told her story. During her time at NOS, she was frequently bullied in the newsroom. Among other things, she was insulted because of her origin and ridiculed for her allegedly limited knowledge. Hardly anyone did anything to protect her.
Maarten Nooter, editor-in-chief of NOS Sport said in a response that “At the time we tried to guide her and help where we could. I do not recognize myself in the examples she mentioned. It is sad that she experienced this this way.”
She also described an incident in the paper with Jack van Gelder, who allegedly gave her the phone number of a well-known football player and said, “You Moroccans only do it among yourselves, don’t you?” Earlier, Van Gelder himself admitted on the SBS6 talk show HLF8 that he had called a female colleague a “whore” or some other phrase. According to the newspaper, he referred to the woman as a “whore” several times and also called her “that cunt” in an email.
State Secretary Gunay Uslu of Culture and Media believes that the NOS management and editor-in-chief of NOS Sport should take measures so that transgressive behavior “can no longer happen”. It touches her “that employees have felt so unsafe,” she said in response to de Volkskrant article.
“These problems are broader in the media sector and the underlying systemic causes of these problems also need to be looked at,” Uslu continued. “The Investigation Committee Behavior and Culture Broadcasters, chaired by Martin van Rijn, is taking this into account in its investigation. I call on employees, including former ones, to report to the Van Rijn committee so that their signals are also heard there.”
In recent months, de Volkskrant spoke with 32 employees, former employees, and other stakeholders of NOS Sport. What came out, according to the newspaper, is that there has long been a culture in which women feel unsafe and reports of (sexually) assaultive behavior are not taken seriously. Fear reigned among employees, some felt intimidated by managers and editors-in-chief.
Most employees only wanted to speak to the newspaper anonymously. Others did not want to tell their story yet because they preferred to wait for the external investigation that the NOS itself had commissioned.
Reporting by ANP
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