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Thursday 30 October  
Dutch government axes Dutch world service
News Desk's picture
Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Sweeping changes for RNW as it falls under the axe

Published on : 26 June 2011 - 8:54pm | By RNW News Desk (Photo: Ángel Boligán)
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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.

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?"

What's going?
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.

Core mission
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.



Toby McGrath 13 November 2013 - 12:57pm

The fund cutting will surely affect the future of Radio Netherlands and this is really bad news for the entertainment lovers. This must be a motivation for the Radio Netherlands people to find fund by making the business more profitable by getting advertisements and other revenue means. 

Lynn 24 October 2012 - 11:35pm / United States

Please restore your program to the radio station KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco, California. The last program interviewed a British man who had survived after an amazing amount of blood transfusions and about a six month coma. Also, a man who went to jail in order to get his wife cancer treatment in China. Another amazing interview of an Iraqi man who survived death threats from his own family. This is the highest quality radio programming and the Dutch government should support it for the benefit of all age groups. It brings people together more than Disneyland.

Jay Fischer 29 June 2012 - 7:26am / USA

A catastrophic loss. Best wishes to you all. The broadcasts have been a bright light on this complicated planet. Adieu.

John Figliozzi 6 September 2011 - 3:37pm / United States

It's now several months since the announcement. The aftermath of such news, having now affected a score or more of prominent European public service broadcasters from SRI and the DW and the BBC to to Radio Sweden to RNW over time, carries with it the same sense of impotence, frustration and--yes--even quiet rage. It has become almost mind-numbingly familiar and that familiarity is as unwelcome as it is noxious. Listeners continually raise their voices in protest, but such protests are ignored with impunity. It really doesn't matter to the powers that be what we think about such things. But, by now, why should we be surprised by that? The very same attitude attaches to many other things of import to the general public today and one wonders where it will all ultimately lead. All say, "There is no money!" But money, like water, doesn't disappear. It changes form; it changes location. It gathers in some places and drains from others. Where has the money gone? Few ask; no one answers. It's the unspoken mystery, a deception the silence about which can only breed suspicion. The short answer is: The money is in the wrong places and in too few pockets. I know this to be true because I have learned it over time from the committed, ethical, inquisitive and persistent journalists in places like RNW. Maybe therein lies the answer to why so many of the broadcasters committed first, foremost and singularly to public service are in such jeopardy? They spread inconvenient truths.

Eric Wamanji 27 June 2011 - 5:13am / Kenya

This are trying times for the media the world over as politicians with parochial and selfish ideological persuasions pursue strategies that do not only contradict principles of democracy but also fail to understand the situation in other nations. In Africa, and Kenya in particular, RNW and its global logo is becoming a common reliable feature. It will be sad to see the ideals which the Dutch stand for are wasted at the behest of politicians. RNW has provided a platform to pursue free press and to tell stories that would otherwise go untold. This decision should be reconsidered.

Phillip Dampier 26 June 2011 - 6:25pm / USA

This is an outrage. Government officials have no idea the amount of goodwill RNW has provided the Netherlands abroad. I started listening in high school in 1982, and the insight, culture, and honest coverage of news both within Holland and around the world delivered a positive impression about the country I would have never had without RNW. It has stayed with me throughout my life.

Cuts of this kind are simply ludicrous and will turn RNW's profile into something akin to Radio Canada International these days -- an afterthought. RCI's programming is now effectively for new immigrants to Canada, hardly relevant to listeners abroad. With these kinds of cuts, RNW will be reduced to something akin to Polish Radio -- not a bad station, but not one I clamor to hear.

I recognize the days of shortwave broadcasting to the developed world is of dying interest, and I access most of RNW through podcasts and World Radio Network. The cost savings from not delivering 250,000+ watts of power to transmitters broadcasting overseas should have helped, but I see government officials are back for more slashing.

RNW is a cheap price to pay for the top 5 standing the station receives globally. RNW stands with Voice of America, BBC World Service, and Voice of Russia in prominence. Let's not throw that all away. We'll be involved to help any way we can!

Glenn Ian 26 June 2011 - 2:38am / Japan

As one of the Latente Nederlanders (children of Dutch women and foreign fathers born abroad before 1985 with no citizenship rights in NL as these could only come from the father) I was finally given the right to Dutch Nationality in October 2010 with the change in citizenship laws on the basis of equal rights between men and women. I add my voice to those lamenting the loss of Wereld Omroep programming. RNW was helping me make up for lost time, improving my Nederlands comprehension and providing important cultural insights as well as a Dutch perspective on world affairs. The timing of these shortsighted cuts could not be worse for me personally but also represent an abandonment of a leadership role in providing a window on the Netherlands to the world. Jammer!

Dave Harries 25 June 2011 - 8:56pm / United Kingdom / Verenigd Koninkrijk

Absolutely devastating news for RNW and all its listeners. I amply prefer RNW to my country's broadcaster and hope to that which I hold most sacred that the Dutch government will see the error of its ways before the cuts take effect. I can hear the sound of nails being seriously bitten to the core and my thoughts are with all at RNW.

Anonymous 25 June 2011 - 5:31pm / Canada

A sad day for all of us who rely on RNW for un-Americanized media here in Canada and an insightful view on European and Global affairs. Shame on the Dutch government for making cuts deepest in the places where it matters most. The arts and media in the Netherlands are as critical to national identity as tulips, bicycles and canals. For a nation that produced Van Gogh, Rembrandt and other wonderful artists, this 180 degree turn is completely incomprehensible.

Andrea Schweikl 25 June 2011 - 4:59pm / USA

Shocking. Terrible. A HUGE mistake if they do it. I'm speechless. Best wishes to RNW.

Anonymous 25 June 2011 - 11:19am

Outrageous. Why are we subsidizing Banks but not programs such as RNW?

Richard Van Egmont 25 June 2011 - 9:41am / Pittsburgh, PA - US

It is with great sadness that this news is received. I hope that the Dutch government will see fit to reinstate at least some of the funds in order to alive that which so many of us cherish.

Best wishes to all of you and your efforts.

Gabi 25 June 2011 - 8:42am / Netherlands (German expat)

I will go to the protests in Den Haag on Monday. I hope that many more show up - a public outcry is needed!

C Federssen 25 June 2011 - 6:58am / US

Shocking news. Hopefully, some of the funds cut will be restored in the next year and a half.

Its odd that politicians feel that force fed stories about freedoms are somehow more important than showing free speech in practice.

Good luck to the staff of RNW.

Anonymous 24 June 2011 - 9:08pm / Canada

RNW is one of the most neutral radio stations in a world where everything is painted black or white by most media outlets. Why are Dutch politicians so short sighted? RNW was built with incredible sacrifices and maintained by outstanding journalists over the years. Why cut the funding now when it is needed most? Jammer, what a pitty, as they say in Dutch. I will surely be missing RNW.

Anonymous 24 June 2011 - 5:58pm / romania

Too bad all those cuts; My bee we can help with donations for all around the world. Where we can find an account where we can send somme money, (to raise somme fonds for our favorite rnlw)?

Anonymous 24 June 2011 - 5:37pm / Lalaland

Too bad all those cuts; it seems that a bunch of Dutch political misers and misanthropes are trying to make life miserable for a lot a people. Let those swindling politicians at the Binnenhof first cut their own budget and income.

Kevin Younes 24 June 2011 - 4:29pm / United States

To whom this may concern,
RN is one of the best radio services in world. And now breaking it up is a disaster. Many Americans, but also those from your country depend on RN for news, music and information.

RN music must be affected by this as well. I believe the excellent reputation and quality of programs will be missed. I will miss airing RN's music on my syndicated radio programs.

I hope your government changes their mind and keeps funding RNW at it's existing level. You are destroying a terrific service, just like the BBC's funding was cut in the UK. The quality of programming has gone down considerably.

Thank you very much for reading my comments.


Michael Koening 24 June 2011 - 4:16pm / canada

As a Canadian of Dutch heritage I'm very sorry to hear about this. RNW is one of my favorite sites. Not only does it keep me informed about what's happening in the Netherlands (I have visited cousins there many times)it also has many articles of general interest to people of every background. I would be extremely dissapointed to see any significant changes to your present format.

Michael Koening 24 June 2011 - 4:14pm / canada

As a Canadian of Dutch heritage I'm very sorry to hear about this. RNW is one of my favorite sites. Not only does it keep me informed about what's happening in the Netherlands (I have visited cousins there many times)it also has many articles of general interest to people of every background. I would be extremely dissapointed to see any significant changes to your present format.

Mark Harper 24 June 2011 - 3:44pm / UK

Really really sorry to hear this..I've been listening to RNW since I was in my early teens (now 35!) and this is a total shock, its going to practically destroy RNW and leave it a shell of its once former (and great) self.

I think whichever members of the Dutch Parliament who were involved in this, should hang their heads in shame :(

Jaldeep Katwala 24 June 2011 - 3:16pm / Papua New Guinea

To all my friends and former colleagues at Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep, I wish you all the courage and strength you need at this difficult time. You provide something truly unique amongst all the clutter clogging up the airwaves.
To those responsible for this decision by the Dutch Government, I have this message: you can tell people what to do but you can't tell them what to think. And many people think your decision is short-sighted, short-termist, and wrong. The Dutch are greater than the sum of their parts because of Radio Netherlands. Today the Dutch nation is greatly diminished by your action.

jasmin 24 June 2011 - 2:57pm / India

Very sorry to know about the impending best wishes to all.

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