Dutch news in brief, Thursday 1 October 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Clean up rubbish and be rewarded with a joint
AD reports a novel solution to the problem of littering in the town of Culemborg, near Utrecht.
For day-trippers who hand him a bag of litter, riverside resident Rob is offering a reward: a marijuana joint. The man started by offering EUR 1, but on an impulse he added the option of a joint at the bottom of his sign as an alternative “for adults”.
Nobody was interested in earning EUR 1 for picking up rubbish. But the offer of soft drugs did the trick.
Within a few days, Rob, who declined to give his full name, was handed dozens of rubbish bags, and the riverbank was litter free. “Young people came first,” he told the paper, “but soon there were also women and respectable house-husbands.”
“Don’t call me” law comes into force
nrc.next reports the demise of unwanted calls from telemarketers.
From Thursday, Dutch consumers can add their telephone number to a so-called “don’t-call-me” register, which will put them out of bounds to telemarketing companies.
Although cold-calling will still be allowed, if a telemarketer gets the cold shoulder from the consumer, he or she is then obliged to ask if the person would like to add their name to the register, so they will never be called by a telemarketing company again.
The consumers’ organisation is happy, says nrc, but not a spokeswoman for telemarketing trade association DDMA. “It might sound nice for consumers, but it will be hard to keep the register up to date. The administrator is obliged to register every change of address or telephone number.”
The paper reports, from Thursday it’s also illegal in the Netherlands to send spam e-mail to people at their work address – spamming private e-mail addresses has been banned since 2004. The DDMA spokeswoman is equally dismissive.
“It’s rather pointless legislation. A spammer can just put a server in Uzbekistan and send millions of e-mails.”
Dutch people to work till 67
The arguing is over – Dutch people will have to keep on working until they are 67.
After what De Telegraaf describes as “six months of tug-of-war in backrooms” the employers pulled the plug out of negotiations on raising the retirement age from 65.
“Working till 67 is unavoidable,” says de Volkskrant.
In March the government proposed the age rise as part of a package of crisis measures. Union, in consultation with employers’ organisations, were given six months to come up with a better solution as they slammed the government’s proposal. Wednesday night was the deadline to put a solution on the table.
The papers report the break down in union-employer as a seismic shift. AD mourns the crisis as “the end of the polder model” – the consensus politics that characterised Dutch government through the 1980s and 1990s.
AD reports unsurprisingly that unions and employers are pointing the finger at each other.
“The employers are the scum of the earth,” said the leader of the trade union federation FNV, Agnes Jongerius, according to de Volkskrant. Richard Steenborg, her counterpart from the MHP union federation felt like he’d been “put out with the rubbish”.
It’s now up to the government to decide on the ins and outs of how the higher pension age is to be introduced.
“It would have been easier if the social partners had rallied behind it,” Finance Minister Wouter Bos told AD.
No second chance for worthy public broadcaster
Several papers report on the latest recommendations on which corporations should get airtime on public service broadcasting television and radio.
In the Dutch public broadcasting system, airtime is divided up among corporations. It is first based on the number of paying members they manage to recruit before the Dutch Public Broadcasting Organisation, the Media Commission and the Council for Culture advise the minister on which corporations should stay or go.
Over the past year, attention has been focused on a show-down for airtime between worthy corporation Llink (‘for a fairer, sustainable world’) and two newcomers, the brash Powned (an offshoot of notorious tabloid-style website Geenstijl) and WNL, brainchild of popular conservative daily De Telegraaf.
AD sums up the state of play: Powned can go into the country’s living rooms, Llink has been shown the door, and WNL is on the waiting list.
Trouw explains that a question mark hangs over WNL because of concerns that it would be too much under the influence of its parent, De Telegraaf.
Not surprisingly, De Telegraaf puts a different spin on the story. ‘WNL is 2-1 ahead’ the paper concludes – pointing out that two of the three advisory bodies were positive about the paper’s venture into broadcasting.
de Volkskrant focuses on the imminent demise of Llink, claiming “Llink has botched it”. Public service broadcasting chairman Henk Hagoort told the paper that the serious current affairs broadcaster with an environmental message had simply failed to come up with the goods and has a EUR 1 million budget deficit.
“Llink has had its chance and failed to use it,” said Hagoort. “It’s not high school. We don’t give second chances.”
Bumper year for Nether-wine
There’s good news for wine-lovers in the De Telegraaf.
The dry and sunny weather over the past few weeks makes it a bumper harvest for Dutch wine-makers.
Head of the Dutch vine-growers guild said this is a top year for wine: “It’s an exceptionally good harvest, because we were able to pick early. The sugar and acid content is very good.”
Radio Netherlands / Michael Blass / Expatica