Sitcom cancelled in order not to offend advertisers and increase terror threat

November 25, 2010

TV station SBS has cancelled a new sitcom which portrays three incompetent terrorists, arguing that the satire might offend potential advertisers.

“Cellen” (The Cell) is a satire show in 12 episodes, created by Danish comedian Omar Marzouk, who is furious about the cancellation. “It would be easy enough to create a new Muhammad-crisis, but that’s not what we’re trying to do here”, Marzouk told public broadcaster DR. “But as soon as you try to create some debate, it becomes all taboo” he says.

According to a spokesperson for the privately owned SBS, Jørgen Jürgensen, the move was made out of concern that the show could offend some of the station’s advertisers. The current terror threat against Denmark is also said to have played a part in the decision not to air the series.

Two years ago, the Danish Film Institute granted SBS TV 4.5 million kroner to finance the show. Now, culture minister Per Stig Møller has warned the station that if they don’t broadcast it by next summer, they will have to pay back the money. “We must never abstain from doing things out of fear because then whatever stopped you from doing it will win,” Møller told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

Denmark: Denmark Makes Overtures to Muslims in Cartoon Row

Denmark has sent a video tape to Arab television stations in which Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller presents some initiatives aimed at easing global tensions over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The message is that we have listened to reactions from abroad and now launch a number of forward-looking and constructive initiatives aimed at promoting respectful dialogue, a foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Denmark: EU Backs Denmark in Caricature Dispute

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) — The European Union backed Denmark Monday in a diplomatic dispute with Muslim countries over Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, saying that any retaliatory boycott of Danish goods would violate world trade rules. Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said an EU foreign affairs ministers meeting condemned Saudi Arabia’s call to boycott Danish goods and all threats made against Danish, Swedish and Norwegian citizens in recent days.