Brussels - The VRT Board of Directors has approved the appointment of Karen Donders (37) as Director of Public Service. CEO Frederik Delaplace proposed her appointment to further underline the VRT’s unique role in society and to involve all the stakeholders even more closely in the Flemish public broadcaster’s strategy.
Luc Van den Brande, Chairman of the VRT Board of Directors: ‘The Public Broadcaster plays an undeniably important role in society by informing, inspiring and connecting. Karen Donders’ expertise will substantively strengthen VRT policy-making and highlight the importance of public broadcasting.’
Frederik Delaplace, CEO of the VRT: ‘In the coming years, the VRT wants to make an even bigger difference in the media landscape. We are going to graft the public broadcaster’s unique role onto the flourishing stem of our rapidly changing Flemish media behaviour by – among other things – providing a taste-broadening variety of offerings and by collaborating even more intensively with our media sector partners. Karen's task spans the whole VRT: she has to ensure that we never lose sight of social added value.’
In her new job, Karen will be involved in policy-making, the development of open stakeholder management, and the structural underpinning of the VRT’s societal value. Together with the CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Directors, she will reinforce the VRT’s relations with Flemish society, the Flemish Government, the Flemish Parliament, other Flemish institutions and media companies. Karen will also ensure the distinctive character of the VRT's multimedia offerings.
Karen Donders: ‘For several decades, scientific research has convincingly demonstrated the importance of public broadcasting to people, society and the media market. It is both a great honour and a great challenge to now participate actively – rather than mainly academically – in a process that aims to ensure that the VRT still has a warm and welcome place in the heart of every Fleming in 2030 and even in 2050.’
Who is Karen Donders?
Karen Donders is a Professor of Communication Sciences at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). She currently teaches courses there on media policy, media economics and journalism. She is also head of the Media & Society research programme, conducted by the imec-SMIT research group. In that capacity she leads 45 researchers, who conduct both fundamental and applied research into the policy, market and usage aspects of media.
Karen graduated with a master's degree in Communication Sciences in 2005. In 2010 she defended her doctoral thesis in that same discipline at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Her PhD and subsequent research mainly focus on public broadcasting, the reciprocity between media policy and economics, and the rise of the platform economy. She has published about this extensively. Karen is known internationally for her research and is consulted regularly by companies and government agencies, such as the European Commission.
As an adviser, Karen is already playing an active role in the ongoing negotiation of the VRT Management Agreement. She was also involved in the negotiation of the previous two Management Agreements. As a result, she is already well acquainted with the VRT, and with the policy and legal frameworks within which the VRT ambitiously fulfils its public service mission each and every day.
Karen will start her new job on February 1, 2021.