Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Changes ahead for Radio Netherlands Worldwide ?

Radio Netherlands Worldwide is adjusting its journalistic focus to concentrate more on informing people in countries where press freedom is not a given. In addition, RNW will serve as the journalistic calling card of the Netherlands. The new focus 'Free speech, Dutch values', comes ahead of a cabinet decision about budget cuts to public broadcasting.

RNW expects that a final, detailed version of the coalition's plans for the media will be published in mid-June. The coalition agreement states that "RNW will focus on its core tasks including freedom of speech while funding will be provided by the foreign ministry."

Director General Jan Hoek clarifies: “This is a logical step. Many of our activities mesh seamlessly with foreign ministry policies, including the promotion of free speech and propagating Dutch values. This makes RNW an important journalistic calling card for the Netherlands as a trading nation and a champion of international law.”

Recent research shows that less than 30 percent of the global population has access to the internet, which is strictly censored by a number of countries.

“We reach the greater part of our audience via local media organisations which re-broadcast RNW content. In this way, RNW reaches tens of millions of people in their own language, meeting their information needs. External research has confirmed that new technological developments have not made RNW redundant, but rather offer new opportunities to make a difference.”

New course
Jan Hoek expects that budget cuts will be part of the final cabinet media plan. "With this new course, we will be ready. Because, just like all other public broadcasters, we will have to make a contribution to the necessary budget cuts. It is difficult, but with this new course we are making a proportional contribution. We are reducing our budget from 46 million euros to 36 million euros, or about 20 percent.”

If RNW's new focus meets with government approval, the reduction would be realised by winding down Dutch-language activities and short-wave broadcasts (by closing two transmitting stations in Bonaire and Madagascar, for example). About 100 jobs will probably be lost in Hilversum and on these two islands.
(gsh/as/imm/nc/Radio Netherlands News Desk via Alokesh Gupta)

RNW surprised by report on far-reaching cuts
Radio Netherlands Worldwide was surprised on Tuesday evening by an unconfirmed report from commercial news broadcaster RTL TV that government cuts to Radio Netherlands Worldwide will leave the Netherlands’ international service with less than a quarter of its budget.

In response to the reports, RNW Director General Jan Hoek says “If this is so, it appears decisions are being taken without due care. I can’t imagine this happening.”

Earlier today, RNW announced plans to substantially slim down its Dutch-language service. The proposed savings in the management plans amount to 10 million euros, roughly 20 percent of the media organisations’ budget. The proposed package is entitled “Free Speech, Dutch Values”.

The new plans outlay a shift in focus towards providing news and information to regions where press freedom is limited. Dutch-language programming would be largely scrapped, keeping only RNW’s function as an emergency broadcasting station in the event of disasters for Dutch nationals abroad.

RTL says its sources are close to the Dutch government, which is due to take decisions on public broadcasting funding in general soon. Changes in the funding of Radio Netherlands Worldwide will be part of a raft of measures.

At the moment Radio Netherlands receives 46 million euros every year for its activities, which currently include providing news and information to Dutch nationals abroad, acting as an emergency broadcasting station in case of international disasters, informing people in regions where press freedom is limited and presenting a realistic and balanced view of the Netherlands.
(Source: RNW News/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)