Complexities of Media Diversity in the Netherlands

Media Park in Hilversum, the Netherlands

 

Hilversum, the Netherlands:
Hilversum is the media capital of the Netherlands all because a housekeeper refused to move to the capital city. According to a little-known story; the man (he lived in Eindhoven, 150 km south of Amsterdam) who got the license to operate the first radio station  in the Netherlands planned to broadcast from Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands— some 20 km south-east of Hilversum and 20 km north of Utrecht — but his beloved housekeeper who had been with the family for many years refused to move from Eindhoven to Amsterdam, because she thought Amsterdam to be too “sensual” — afterall, don’t forget about the redlight district.  Weighing all the options, he decided having good and loyal help was more important so he decided to move to Hilversum instead of Amsterdam.  So on old radios you can find Hilversum on the tuning dial in between all the capital cities of Europe. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today Hilversum is home to Media Park, the centre of the audio-visual multimedia industry in the Netherlands. Highly-skilled, innovative and creative activities are at the core of Media Park. It is also the home of Dutch public broadcasting.  

To say the Dutch public broadcasting system is complex would be an understatement.  The Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPO) is responsible for the overall management of the public broadcasting system.  

In addition to NPO there are broadcasting “associations” and organizations. Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) is responsible for news and information while the mandate for Nederlandse Programma Stichting (NPS) covers arts, culture and minorities. Two other agencies are responsible for educational programming. The Netherlands has nine broadcasters based on faith or perspective on life and all of them try to attract “members.”  

Immigration from developing countries as well as from Eastern Europe is changing the face of the Netherlands. It is no wonder that diversity has become a priority for the Dutch public broadcasting system.  

The challenge, like elsewhere in the world, is how to reflect that diversity back to itself.  

NPS and NPO have undertaken a number of activities. Notably, NPO recently launched a 1M Euro Incentive Program to, among other things, encourage broadcasters to raise diversity awareness among staff and to engage the country’s diverse communities.  

Added to this, are the many activities being done by community-based organizations such as MiraMedia http://www.miramedia.nl/uk/index.htm  to engage broadcasters and minority communities.  

To a stranger the complexity of the Dutch broadcasting landscape and the diversity of its population can boggle the mind.  

However, if a country can manage the complex and at times dangerous relationships between cyclists and motorists on the same roads, it can accomplish true diversity and inclusion in the media.

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2 thoughts on “Complexities of Media Diversity in the Netherlands

  1. Les Lawrence

    How do the broadcasters view the overtly racist Geert Wilders and the Freedom Party ? Are these just a bunch of fringe crazies or a real threat with real support ?

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    1. The Freedom Party is currently polling about 34 per cent. This is of some concern to people working in the diversity/inclusion field and I suspect to some journalists. But this turn to the extreme right seems to be happening in several countries including the UK. The current state of the economy across Europe is no doubt adding fuel this fire. One person who is watching these things closely says polling is one thing…but what voters will actually do when they cast their ballots is anyone’s guess. The fact is, the Freedom Party has no real local branch structure — it has “voluteers” and no one can “join” the party — and in the coming municipal elections in March 2010 will only run in two cities. Parliamentary elections will be held in 2011.

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