Outlandish TV station could become public broadcaster

Outlandish new broadcasting organisation PowNed has been recommended to Dutch Minister of Culture Ronald Plasterk. The Dutch Media Commission, the Netherlands Public Broadcasting organisation and the Culture Council all favour allowing PowNed to become a new public broadcaster.

PowNed is an initiative by Internet channel GeenStijl, which is loved and loathed for its outlandish antics, many of which are often designed to put the noses of public figures out of joint. For instance, former integration minister Ella Vogelaar’s refusal to answer questions from a GeenStijl journalist damaged her image so badly that eventually she was forced out of office.

Another aspiring broadcaster, WNL, an initiative by mass-circulation newspaper De Telegraaf, has received the approval of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting organisation and the Culture Council, but the Media Commission still has reservations. It wants to clarify WNL’s relationship with the newspaper first.

All three organisations have approved the continuation of Max, a broadcasting organisation for senior citizens. However, Llink - a broadcaster promoting green issues and human rights - will be scrapped.

The commission has also warned the TROS broadcasting organisation to adhere to the Media Act.

The race for members entitling organisations to enter the field of Dutch public broadcasting heated up earlier this year as the deadline for counting each existing and new organisation’s memberships approached. Many new and some existing media initiatives were pipped at the post.

There are three Dutch public television channels, and six radio networks. However, numerous broadcasters compete for airtime on these channels. The amount of transmission time in the Netherlands is allocated on the basis of the number of subscribers or members the various organisations can attract. This system of public broadcasting is unique in the world, and dates back to the very beginning of radio in the Netherlands in the 1920s.