Culture council backs new broadcasters but warns about fragmentation


The Dutch council for culture has recommended that two new initiatives be admitted to the public broadcasting system – Omroep Zwart and Ongehoord Nederland.

Omroep Zwart, which involves rapper Akwasi, is ‘highly diverse’ and speaks to the millennial generation, Kristel Baele, chairwoman of the council, told Radio 1 news.

ON, launched last year and backed by backed by Dutch far right parties PVV and FvD
has ‘added value’ for the broadcast system in that it provides a voice for people who feel estranged from politics and public services, she said.

However, the fledgling broadcaster must refrain from criticizing NOS’s independent news provision, she said.

Culture minister Arie Slob must now decide if the two broadcasters should get the green light. Both have met the target of having 50,000 paying members.

While supporting the two new channels, the council also warned about the continuing fragmentation of the Dutch public broadcasting system, saying that the different channels are becoming more and more like each other, despite their plans to provide different content.

The rules for removing a channel from the system should also be made more explicit, the council said.

Nine channels

The Dutch Publieke Omroep (NPO), or public broadcasting system, is funded partly by advertising and partly by the treasury.

There are currently nine main Dutch public broadcasting companies operating under the NPO banner: AVROTROS, BNNVARA, EO, KRO-NCRV, MAX, Powned, VPRO, HUMAN and WNL, plus the news arm NOS and a number of specialist companies and regional broadcasters.

Together, they provide programming for three national television and five radio stations as well as digital channels. The broadcasters all have a specific religious, political or social slant and their airtime is allocated according to how many members they have.

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