Coalition partner opposes broadcasting merger

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Coalition partner VVD and coalition supporter the Freedom Party do not want Media Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt to agree to a public broadcasting merger. They think the broadcasting stations VARA and BNN stand to benefit too much from a proposed merger compared to other broadcasters.

The minister wants to cut the number of public broadcasting organisations in the Netherlands from 21 to just eight. The large number of different Dutch broadcasting organisations reflects the outdated ‘pillarisation’ system which once dominated Dutch society. Up until the 1950s, various groups or ‘pillars’ in Dutch society lived segregated lives on the basis of religion, political preference or ideology. This would determine which newspaper you read, which school your children went to and even which baker you bought your bread.

The Dutch Public Broadcasting authority NPO has proposed a number of mergers in accordance with the government’s wishes. Under the plan, the Catholic KRO merges with the Christian NCRV, former offshore station TROS joins the liberal AVRO and the socialist VARA merges with youth broadcaster BNN. The conservative VVD and the Freedom Party fear that the latter stands to receive 10 million euros more based on their combined number of members.

The NPO disputes that the VARA-BNN merger will mean the organisation will receive substantially more than the others because the calculation is based on the 2009 membership figures and funds for public broadcasting organisations will be divided according to their membership in 2014.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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