08.55 Europe/London, August 31, 2011 By Robert Briel

NPO, the umbrella organisation of the Dutch public broadcasters, will cut the number of digital thematic channels in half, from the current 12 to just six channels in the first quarter of 2012.

In 2009, the pubcasters launched a total of 12 channels, ranging from news, kids programming, documentaries, comedy, Dutch music to more documentaries, consumer magazines and religious and spiritual programming.

The current line-up consists of Journaal 24, Politiek 24/Sport24, HumorTV24, Consumenten24, HollandDoc24, Geschiedenis24, Cultura24, Z@ppelin/Z@PP24, Sterren24, 101TV, Best24 and Spirit24.

The planned remaining six channels will focus on news and events, sports and politics, repeats (!), education, young/innovative and comedy and kids.

With the proposed six channels, the NPO answers criticism from political parties, print and online publishers and private broadcasters who claim the public broadcasters are spending too much money and distort competition.

At the same time, the NPO said it intend to bring down the number of web portals. They now propose a total of eight themes: Cultura, Gezond24, Wetenschap24 (science), Geschiedenis (history), HollandDoc (documentaries), Doe maar duurzaam (Environmentally responsible), Nieuws (news and current affairs) and opinion.