Railway chaos: ProRail launches investigation into IT breakdown

Rail infrastructure group ProRail said on Wednesday it had launched a 'far-reaching investigation' into the cause of Tuesday evening's IT problems, which caused chaos for travellers. Tens of thousands of travellers were stranded after a breakdown led to all trains in and around Amsterdam being halted due to signal and points failures. The failure also led to major problems at Schiphol airport, with long tailbacks as people arrived at the airport by car. IT experts have restored full service and trains are, in the main, running normally on Wednesday, ProRail said. 'The system is stable at the moment,' a spokesman told broadcaster NOS. However, passengers are being warned that trains will be overcrowded because they are shorter than usual.  More >

Discovery shifts jobs to Amsterdam

Discovery has become the latest international broadcast group to move European operations to the Netherlands following Britain's decision to pull out of the EU. Discovery has had a Dutch base since 1989 but has now applied for EU licences for its paid channel portfolio through the Netherlands. 'This decision ensures continuity of our services for the view across Europe,' the company said in a statement. 'This change means a number of new roles will be created in Amsterdam and a number of roles will move from London to Amsterdam.' Until now international broadcasters have favoured London as a base for pan-European operations because they can use UK licences to provide services across the EU region, but that will end after Brexit. The BBC is also said to be in talks with Dutch and Irish broadcast authorities to obtain licenses which would allow it to continue broadcasting across the EU. In September, British online sports channel DAZN said it is opening a new development centre in Amsterdam as part of its plan to become the ‘Netflix of sports’ and protect its operations from the impact of Brexit. Viacom International has also obtained a Dutch licence for its channels aimed at France and Denmark.  More >

No new solar panels in some areas: VK

The Dutch might have been some of the world’s best green energy farmers, with their ubiquitous windmills. But they are having more problems rolling out solar energy cultivation, according to media reports on Friday. The Volkskrant claims that network managers Enexis and TenneT cannot agree to take energy from any more farmers, companies or corporations in parts of Groningen and Drenthe who want to install panels – because there apparently isn’t enough capacity in the system. New solar farms in certain areas, where solar farming provides more than enough energy, will also not be connected to the national network. According to the Volkskrant, supply of the panels in 2017 and 2018 has somewhat outstripped the demand. ‘The capacity of the energy network is a bottleneck for transition to green energy,’ Siward Zomer, director of eco-friendly energy organisation ODE Decentraal reportedly told the paper. Netbeheer Nederland association said that the problem is most acute in parts of Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel. Jeroen Brouwers, spokesman for TenneT, reportedly told the Telegraaf that the problem was ‘the result of the current subsidy policy’, adding that the panels ‘are mostly possible, but just not all in the same space’. Expanding the network capacity to increase the capacity for solar energy – and help fulfil the Netherland’s obligations to combat climate change – is expected to take years and cost millions.  More >

Dutch films attract fewer cinema goers

Dutch films are losing their appeal to the public, with market share based on visitor numbers down from 12% in 2017 to 11.2% last year, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Wednesday. According to figures from the association of cinemas NVBF and distributors FDN, fewer than four million people went to see a Dutch-made film last year. In 2006 Dutch films had a market share of over 20%. FDN spokesman Hajo Binsbergen says the lack of interest in Dutch films is caused by an overwhelming number of foreign films. ‘The competition from America and England is huge, and they also have far bigger budgets,’ he told the paper. The top ten of most popular films last year does not include any Dutch films. The highest entry, Bon Bini Holland, comes in at number 20 with 400,000 visitors. Bankier van het Verzet had roughly the same number of visitors but Bohemian Rhapsody, which is still filling Dutch cinemas, has so far attracted over three times as many. A formerly popular genre in Dutch filmmaking, the romantic comedy, is also on the wane, Binsbergen said. ‘People seem to tire of them. But more diversity in Dutch film is a good thing,’ the FD quotes him as saying. 36 million The total number of cinema tickets sold last year reached 36 million, slightly down on the year before. The warm summer months proved most unpopular for an evening at the cinema while the best scoring films, in the absence of big blockbusters, were musicals, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Mama Mia II and A Star is Born. Streaming services, of which Netflix is the most successful, are increasingly competing with traditional film studios but do not seem to have influenced visitor numbers, the FD said. Ticket prices went up by 3.5%, which boosted revenue to a total of €312m.  More >

Online poker players win tax court case

The Dutch tax office has lost its claim to levy tax over the winnings of dozens of online poker players, the AD said on Tuesday. The tax office had gone to court demanding that players pay 29% tax on winnings earned via the Pokerstars.eu website. It argues the company is based on the Isle of Man and is not an EU country. This, the tax office says, makes players liable for tax. The players, however, said the company is based on EU member Malta, which the court agreed with. Gamblers are not liable for income tax on winnings earned within the EU. Lawyer Pepijn le Heux, who represented between 75 and 100 poker players told the AD some of his clients had faced tax demands of over €500,000. Those who have paid tax can use Tuesday’s ruling to claim back the cash, he said. The tax office has six weeks to decide whether or not to appeal to the supreme court.  More >

Dutch media mogul launches own news app

  John de Mol is launching his own online app and news service, the Dutch media mogul announced on news current affairs programme Pauw. De Mol, who bought the Netherlands’ largest news agency ANP earlier this year, said he wanted to compete with newspapers, broadcasters and online news platform NU.nl. ANP also owns press photo service Hollandse Hoogte. De Mol's Talpa network comprises radio stations 538, Sky Radio and Radio 10 as well as television stations SBS6, Net 5, Veronica and SBS9 and online services Juke, Kijk and YouTube channel StukTV. The new news app is expected to launch next May.  More >

Four arrested for nude photo blackmail

One man and three women have been arrested for blackmailing at least 10 young women by threatening to place nude photographs of them online, Zeeland police said on Friday. The victims, aged between 18 and 25, come from all over the country and there may be more, the broadcaster said. The investigation began after a young woman from Vlissingen went to the police, saying she was being blackmailed into handing over cash to stop nude photos being placed on the internet. That led police to identify a 23-year-old man in The Hague. He may also face rape charges after attacking one of his victims when she brought him the money. His telephone and laptop led to three other women aged 18 to 26 who may be involved in the blackmailing. Their role in the case is still being investigated. Police spokesman Aris van Herwijnen said the suspect had made contact with the victims via a fake profile on a dating site. Once he had a nude photo he would make contact with the woman via another social media channel, using another fake profile, and start the blackmail process.  More >