The creators of the VPro documentary Sigrid Kaag: from Beirut to Binnenhof, D66 and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have given space to influence the content and the broadcast time of the program, says GeenStijl. The blog received more than 200 pages through a WOB procedure by a reader about the creation of the documentary about the D66 leader.
According to GeenStijl, the papers show that the creators of the documentary Kaag met a long way. For example, she could have chosen the theme (a trip, a policy topic) that she wanted to come up with.
Kaag should have made suggestions for the image editing and discussing the time of broadcast.
Five years followed
The documentary was first broadcast on January 3, 2021, two and a half months before the Parliamentary Elections. The creator had followed Kaag for five years, even when she was not a party leader in her party.
According to the VPRO, the film was “truly independent and critical”. “Im right behind that,” responds in chief editor Stan van Engelen of the broadcaster. “The creator made the movie the way she wanted to make it.”
Van Engelen says it is “pertinent incorrect” that there was a search for a broadcast time together with D66. “Thats suggested in the WOB pieces by a D66 employee, but I really have to leave that to him or her. That has never been corresponded, and there is no question of that either. We set a broadcast time in consultation with NPO 2.”
According to Van Engelen, the film was finished in December, and the NPO was looking for a broadcast moment. That was on January 3. “That was far enough from the real start of the campaign,” he says. “But you dont want to leave it on the shelf for months either.”
Kaag was mainly followed in her position as Foreign Trade Minister. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that it did not veto what was broadcast, but that certain agreements could be made on final assembly “in good consultation”.
“The appointment to talk about the images for broadcast is not uncommon in such a long production. Compare it to authorizing a longer interview with a newspaper,” says a spokesperson. “Especially if you let a camera crew look behind the scenes for an extended period of time, you dont want to risk factual inaccuracies or confidential matters become public.”
No seat belt
The Ministry did make a remark about the fragment that Kaag wasnt wearing a seat belt. But that wasnt taken out of the documentary in the end. “Thats what the creator said: that scene doesnt go out. We think its an important scene for the film,” says Editor-in-Chief Van Engelen.
“Images of budget treatment have been modified at our request,” says the Kaag Ministry spokesman.
D66 became involved in the documentary as a political party when Kaag was candidate as party leader in 2020. “The documentary makers asked us to follow her as candidate party leader,” says the spokesperson for D66.
“We allowed that, with the same appointment the creators made with the ministry in 2018. That agreement was: the creators are allowed to film everything, independently and with the editorial freedom that comes with it.”
D66 was also allowed to see the final result before broadcast, in view of any factual inaccuracies, “overly privacy-sensitive passages” and any other comments, the party says. D66 also says the final verb was among the makers.
VPro editor-in-chief Van Engelen points out that such viewing is very common. “That was a day or three before the final assembly, the film was really far off then,” he says. The Kaag staff came up with a long list of requests, but according to the VPRO, those wishes were “not one on one”.
“That was carefully looked at by the maker and the producer. And adjustments were made to the film to a number of wishes without harming the content,” says Van Engelen.