Cable TV viewer councils to be scrapped

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Dutch TV viewers are set to lose their influence on the selection of channels offered by local cable networks.

Reports in Dutch media say that the centre-right cabinet wants to abolish the advisory programme councils. The current Media law stipulates that cable networks offer households in their area a basic subscription containing 15 TV channels and 25 radio stations. Cable companies are required to offer a minimum of three public and three commercial channels, but the content of the remaining channels is decided by the advisory programme councils, representing the local clients.

Exotic stations Consumers and cable companies alike are increasingly complaining about the so-called 'interference' of the advisory councils, which leads to the frequent removal of popular channels such as CNN from cable to be replaced by unwanted 'exotic stations'. Daily wrote on Wednesday that Media Minister Marja van Bijsterveld's plan will benefit viewers.

To ensure some democratic input on the choice of channels, the minister wants to replace the councils with consumer polls and a customer-manned feedback panel for every cable company.

A spokesperson for the joint advisory councils rejected the criticism of the councils' role, and regretted the impression of unwarranted meddling that was being created, saying that "even in this period of transition from analogue to digital distribution, and in the period after that, the cable advisory councils will be needed."

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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