Denmark: Broadcaster refuses to broadcast satire on Muslim terrorists

Denmark: Broadcaster refuses to broadcast satire on Muslim terrorists

You can watch the show trailer here (English subtitles, viewer discretion advised)

Danish broadcaster SBS owns the right to a satiric show about a cell of bumbling European Muslim terrorists created by Omar Marzouk, but the show has been on the shelf for the past two years.

Henrik Bo Nielsen of the Danish Film Institute has seen an episode from the show and doesn't understand what's the problem with broadcasting it. It's a very funny satire series and he's seen nothing which could cause concern. The Institute granted millions to support the project.

SBS first changed the name of the series from "The Terror Cell" to "The Cell". Then they moved the planned broadcast from Kanal 5 to the less viewed 6'eren. Now they've postponed broadcasting it at all.

SBS spokesperson Jesper Jürgensen says that the series could annoy some viewers. The current terror threat against Denmark also played a role in the decision to drop the series.

Mogens Jensen (Social Democrats), says that it looks like a type of self-censorship, and that's obviously regrettable.

Creator Omar Marzouk told BT that he's furious that SBS don't dare show the series, which makes fun of extremists.

SBS invested 4.5 million Danish Kroner in the show, and got another 4.5 million in state subsidies from the Danish Film Institute. They need to broadcast the year after they get the money, or else they need to repay it. The date was first pushed off to Dec. 6th, and now they got permission from the Culture Ministry to delay broadcasting until June 6th, 2011.

Jesper Jürgensen says it's not an issue of self-censorship, but of money. It's a purely commercial decision, he says. "We are a TV-station, and we know to make TV. Commercially it looks like a bad time to broadcast the series, therefore we're not doing it." The situation has changed since they ordered the show, says Jürgensen, and they don't think the terror situation will change in the next half year. They hope they'll get another extension.

Jesper Jürgensen says that if they wouldn't have received state subsidies they would have just shelved the series until they wanted to broadcast it. But since they got the money, they can't do that. He says the series is for sale and whoever wants to buy it is welcome to contact SBS. Omar Marzouk and the Danish Film Institute want it broadcast as soon as possible. Jürgensen says that they don't want to prevent the show from being broadcast, they just don't want to broadcast it themselves.

Jürgensen says that viewers hadn't contacted them to say they don't want the show broadcast, but they're a small company and need to be careful about what they do. They don't have any plans to broadcast the show and maybe lose viewers. They're considering moving the show to another channel.

Sources: Politiken 1, 2, 3, 4 (Danish)