Years of harassment at RTS - SRG with catalogue of measures

Harassment and sexual assaults at Radio and Television of Western Switzerland (RTS) occurred frequently for years, according to a report. In this context, the board of directors of the parent company SRG adopted a catalogue of measures to change the company's culture.

The report was presented on Thursday by the lawyers' collective tasked with gathering testimony on harassment and bullying at Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). It reveals numerous other cases of inappropriate behaviour.

From the analysis of more than 220 witness statements, the collective points out that many personality violations have occurred in recent years. Some of the statements go back more than 20 years. According to the lawyers, however, there are no indications of current assaults that would make an investigation of incidents in recent months necessary.

Two investigations have been opened. They concern whether two current employees of Radio Télévision Suisse RTS were guilty of harassment. The lawyers also recommend an analysis of the working atmosphere in two departments.

In addition, the collective disclosed potentially inappropriate behavior by nine employees who retired or left the company. The management's responsibility for confirmed cases is being investigated.

SRG with catalogue of measures

Following the revelations at RTS and also at the Italian-language RSI, the SRG Board of Directors decided on a catalogue of measures to protect employees. Implementation is monitored by a national working group, which reports directly to the Board of Directors.

The catalogue comprises 25 specific measures, according to SRG SSR. The measures are based on the external investigations carried out in November 2020. In the wake of the harassment that was uncovered, the company decided to work through the specific cases transparently and to work towards a change in culture.

The package of measures approved by the Board of Directors marks the start. SRG is counting on the involvement of employees at all levels. Chairman of the Board of Directors Jean-Michel Cina said that implementation would begin immediately.

SRG Director General Gilles Marchand assured that he would work for zero tolerance. The company would emerge stronger from this crisis.

Sanctions against two employees

The allegations of sexual harassment and bullying at RTS were published by the French-speaking Swiss daily newspaper Le Temps. Victims told the newspaper of open harassment, unwanted kisses, lewd comments and systematic abuse of power.

Three employees were accused, including Darius Rochebin, long-time star presenter of the RTS Tagesschau. The independent experts appointed by SRG gave him a clean bill of health. However, one member of management had to go, and another employee was sanctioned.

Although there had been no serious mistakes in the executive suite, the TV editor-in-chief and the head of the human resources department also left the station.

SRG Director-General Marchand was Director of Radio Télévision Suisse RTS at the time of the events. However, the SRG Board of Directors expressed its confidence in him. It was true that he had not exercised his "secondary supervisory responsibility" sufficiently. However, he was not accused of any "serious errors", the external experts stated. The current head of RTS, Pascal Crittin, also kept his job.

In addition to the incidents at RTS, allegations also surfaced at Radiotelevisione svizzera RSI in the Ticino. (Werbewoche.ch reported). The media union SSM registered 32 complaints of sexual assault, bullying and other violations of personality. An external investigation was also launched there. (SDA)

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