RTS does its mea culpa

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Following the investigation of Time concerning numerous dysfunctions within the RTS, the SSR had carried out several investigations. A Interim Report was made public this Friday, with the first consequences: two of the most senior executives of the Romandie structure are leaving their posts. Bernard Rappaz, director of television news for RTS, and Steve Bonvin, director of human resources. The latter should however remain in the company.

One of the anonymous executives cited by Time also leaves the company while the second receives a “sanction”. As for Darius Rochebin, the RTS indicated that “the experts had not found acts qualified as sexual or psychological harassment within the meaning of article 328 of the Swiss Code of Obligations” and “that none of the reported facts has been qualified as a criminal offense ”. In the report’s conclusions, however, the SSR welcomed the measures taken in 2017 to contain an “image damage” in the event that the use of false profiles by the host would be revealed before the vote on No Billag.

Apologies on behalf of the board of directors

The atmosphere was serious, this Friday morning, on the Bernese television set which hosted the broadcast of the press conference of the SSR. First to speak, Jean-Michel Cina began the session with an act of public contrition, expressing his “regrets” towards those affected by sexual harassment within his company. “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we ask you to accept our apologies.” Gilles Marchand agreed with him: “In 2014, we took incorrect decisions concerning a collaborator accused of mobbing”, admitted the one who led the RTS between 2001 and 2017 – a period during which most of the facts took place: “I regret it and apologize for it.”

If Gilles Marchand made an “error”, it was not considered “serious” by the investigators. “No measure” was therefore taken against the Vaudois, explained Jean-Michel Cina, adding that he had “no reason to doubt his integrity”: “He is the appropriate person to meet the future challenges of the SSR. ” In this regard, however, the report delivered on Friday recalls that the investigation is far from over: since the launch of various investigations in connection with the revelations of the Time, “More than 230 people went to testify to the Defense Collective” – ​​a law firm mandated to receive complaints from employees – “including forty-three about the three cases revealed by our investigation”.

180 testimonials have not yet been taken into account

However, indicates the document, “if the scope of the mandate to assess the exercise of the responsibilities of the supervision of the three cases cited in the article of Time remains relevant, it is weakened by the fact that more than 180 other people have testified on a whole series of subjects which may also concern, at least in part, the same members of the management. To date, and in order to maintain a publication date of the report in mid-March 2021, the more than 180 minutes in question could not be taken into account by the investigators. “

Expected for this summer, the final report could thus still reveal a lot of things. Particularly in Ticino, where “38 testimonies” and the launch of an external investigation also followed the revelations of the Time. “The charges of harassment or breach of personal integrity have been handed over to four attorneys investigating the cases under RSI warrant,” SSR said today. The final report is expected at the end of June. ”

It should be noted that by taking a position, Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Councilor in charge of Communication, judged that “the matter was not settled”. The Swiss Mass Media Union (SSM) also questioned the decisions taken on Friday, which it said might not be enough “to restore the confidence of SSR employees in the company’s ability to deal with problems. management without concessions ”.

Measures taken in 2017 to “avoid potential image damage”

Without having to wait until this summer, today’s press conference settled the situation of several people. Bernard Rappaz, to begin with, head of French-speaking TV news, who himself “stepped back” last November. In an internal letter, he acknowledged “managerial shortcomings”. While affirming to have “never tolerated inappropriate behavior”. Steve Bonvin, Chief Human Resources Officer, is also stepping down. This to “make room for a new team,” explained Pascal Crittin without further details. He should stay in the company, his position is “under discussion”.

Finally, the case of Darius Rochebin is only the subject of a few sentences: “The independent experts have not noted any case of sexual or moral harassment. Contrary to what has been written by certain media, none of the reported facts has been qualified as a criminal offense. ” And that’s all. Through his lawyer, the presenter welcomed the decision. LCI will decide on Monday its possible return to the air.

On this subject, an elliptical passage of the conclusions of the report that went unnoticed deserves to be underlined. Speaking of the hierarchical chain of responsibility, the report says: “Due to the” public “personality of Darius Rochebin, the hierarchy mobilized up to the highest level, also informing the general management and the presidency of the SSR as well as the presidency of the RTSR. A “reactive” line of communication to be able to answer any questions from the media has been set up. Investigators believe that all the measures taken and communication actions were adequate in view of the potential damage to the image if the affair was publicized. ”

In response to questions from Time, the spokesperson of the SSR, Lauranne Peman, confirms that this passage refers “to the way in which the management of the RTS reacted, in 2017, when it was made aware of the affair of the false profiles of Darius Rochebin on social networks ”. Adding: “This passage shows that the management of the RTS correctly handled the case at the time.” Alerted by comedian Thomas Wiesel, Pascal Crittin then summoned the presenter and “reminded him of the professional rules concerning presence on social networks”.