The Dutch government is cutting Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s (RNW) funding by 70 percent.
The public broadcasting budget as a whole has been reduced by 200 million euros. National radio and television will receive 127 million less, amounting to a 20 percent cut. Several media orchestras will be disbanded. But with RNW’s current 46-million-euro budget being slashed by 32 million, the axe has cut deeper there than anywhere else in the broadcasting sector.
General Director Jan Hoek and Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen say the cutback is outrageous.
About the RNW cuts
- 70 percent off RNW budget
- World citizens: save RNW
- Sweeping changes, services axed
- RNW's Free Speech, Dutch Values plan
The Editor-in-Chief adds, "Our country wants to be known as an important and reliable trading nation. Radio Netherlands Worldwide is contributing to this, in ten languages, around the clock. Tens of millions of people all over the world consider RNW an important source of information, and the Netherlands' journalistic calling card. Is our country really retreating behind the dykes?"
Two of Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s core tasks – providing information for Dutch people living abroad and presenting a realistic image of the Netherlands to the rest of the world – are to be scrapped.
As part of the overall public broadcasting restructuring, RNW's budget will no longer fall under the Education and Culture Ministry, but will become the responsibility of the Foreign Affairs Ministry from 2013.
After 2012, RNW will concern itself solely with making information available in countries where free speech is suppressed or threatened, where “free speech”, according to the vision of chief editor Rik Rensen, should encapsulate Dutch values:
“That means RNW should produce ground-breaking stories about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to freedom of sexual orientation and women’s rights. Actually, these issues are already under RNW’s spotlight, but they’ll be even more accentuated in the future.”
Countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America where freedom of expression is curtailed will get a prominent position in RNW’s scheduling.
Making do with less
But with a slashed budget, RNW will be forced to make choices. What’s going to disappear and how far-reaching will the effects be?
RNW presently broadcasts in ten different languages. Multiple language services face closure. Last week’s cabinet statement was vague: “To increase cost-effectiveness, there will be fewer and smaller-staffed language desks.”
Listeners in Africa, Asia, South America and an island in the Pacific Ocean who tune in through short wave will no longer receive RNW. All short wave broadcasting will cease, a move affecting people at sea or anyone who doesn’t have access to internet or satellite.
*Dutch radio, websites and digital newspaper
All Dutch-language radio programming will stop. Several service websites for Dutch people abroad, including military personnel, sea-faring crews and diplomats are to be scrapped.
A frightening future
Behind the programmes and the websites are the people – journalists, producers and a support back office – who will soon be jobless.
On Monday 27 June, parliament will vote on the cabinet’s proposed public broadcasting cuts. Radio Netherlands Worldwide will listen with bated breath to see what kind of future is in store.