Media Minister Benjamin Dalle (CD&V) started the press conference (from the studio where FC De Kampioenen was once recorded) by expressly thanking the interim CEO Leo Hellemans for ensuring continuity after the premature departure of the previous CEO, Paul Lembrechts, in January.
He also thanked all VRT employees for the ‘brilliant’ work during the corona crisis: good information programs, but also strong relaxation programs for the Fleming who had to stay at home.
But of course it was mainly about the new CEO with whom Minister Dalle will have to write a new management agreement.
“With Frederik Delaplace, we opt for experienced leadership. But also young and dynamic leadership (he is just under 50 years old, ed.). Because that is necessary. The challengers are not the other media houses in Flanders, but companies such as Amazon and Netflix, ‘says Dalle.
Why did the Flemish government ultimately choose Delaplace? “We were particularly charmed because he showed at Mediafin how he implements digitization in the company and that will also happen at the VRT.” Dalle also spoke about his ‘bold management style’.
Delaplace emphasizes that VRT can become more proud
Delaplace started his press conference saying that many people congratulate him and immediately added that he will need it (luck).
“To run a media company, you have to have media experience. I can’t run a large industrial company, but I can run a public broadcaster, ”said the new CEO. Delaplace talked about the great social added value that the VRT creates and that the VRT may even be more proud of it.
He also spoke during the press conference about the connecting role that the VRT plays. “In some countries, such as the US, the binding effect of media has completely disappeared.” That is why he chose Studio Brussel’s Warmest Week as his favorite media moment.
“I want the internal pride to increase and the Fleming to be more proud of his broadcaster.” He wants to start an internal project within VRT that will enthuse everyone. “Everyone should see what the VRT stands for and what the VRT is different from the other media groups.”
He also underlined the importance of technological innovation. “I want to turn the rippling river, which the media are in today, into a flowing mountain river. Standing still is going backwards. There is no point in investing in good quality with our hundreds of employees if we don’t get it to the consumer through the new channels they use. ‘
During the question round, Delaplace also received questions about yesterday’s media riot about cutting Geert Hoste’s Hitler salute from De Ideale Wereld. Everyone agrees that censorship has no place in this house and that program makers should be able to work freely. There should also be no political pressure on the program makers. ” And according to Delaplace, that didn’t happen with this incident either. “The program makers made this decision themselves to cut that part and that is how it should be.”
More important was the question whether the VRT can save. ‘In my previous job too, I had to be careful and conscious with the money. At the VRT I will handle the resources with even more attention and nuance, because all Flemish people are shareholders. We work with the resources of every Fleming. Every media company can use more resources, but with the portfolio we have we can do very nice things. But like any media company, we will have to make choices. ”
The top priority? ‘I want to make the lighthouse where the VRT sails clear to every employee and to the Fleming who watches or listens. I want to make VRT the Champions League of the media. ‘
His first working day? “I’ll find the coffee machine and visit the company restaurant.” For a moment he said he wouldn’t do that the second day, but he was joking. When that first working day starts? ‘As quickly as possible.’ There is no date yet.
The chairman of the board of directors, Luc Van den Brande, also emphasized during the press conference that Delaplace attaches great importance to the social added value of the VRT. For Van den Brande, the VRT must remain a reference, a kind of standard.
Frederik Delaplace (49) was nominated this morning after ministerial consultation as the managing director of the Flemish public broadcaster. Delaplace is currently still CEO of Mediafin, the group behind newspapers such as De Tijd and L’Echo. He also has a past as editor in chief at De Tijd after writing for the same newspaper earlier.
Delaplace made it into the selection round of the former NRC– and The standard– editor-in-chief Peter Vandermeersch and the chairman of the board of directors of Studio 100, Koen Clement. He succeeds CEO ad interim Leo Hellemans, who took over from Paul Lembrechts after his resignation.
Delaplace inherits a public broadcaster in turbulent water, partly because of the major savings operations imposed by the Flemish government on the VRT.