Public broadcasters merge to survive budget cuts

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Two of Holland's non-commercial broadcasting companies are merging as part of an across-the-board cost cutting drive in Dutch public radio and TV. The two broadcasters are targeting roughly the same audience, and both lack the political or religious affiliations that other public TV companies have.

The two companies AVRO and TROS said earlier that they wanted early decisions in order to realise their part of the 200 million euro cut ordered by the government. TROS managing director Peter Kuipers said in January that a merger would be the only way to tackle the "disproportional cuts" imposed by the government without affecting programming output.

AVRO has a long history as a public broadcaster. It was formed in 1927, four years after the first experimental radio broadcasts from Hilversum. It was also the first public TV broadcaster in 1951, following experimental transmissions by the Philips factory in Eindhoven. Its programming mirrored that of the BBC in trying to be both entertaining and instructive.

The history of TROS is quite different. It began as an illegal commercial broadcaster on an artificial island outside Dutch territorial waters in 1964, when commercial TV was illegal in the Netherlands. The US-style programming proved popular and TROS successfully applied for airtime as a public broadcaster.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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