It is exactly 65 years ago that Radio Netherlands Worldwide began its activities as an international broadcaster. A lot has changed over the years, so time to look back.
On 15 April 1947, RNW was set up by the Dutch government. The new foundation was charged with “putting together and preparing radio programmes to be received outside the borders of the Netherlands” and began broadcasting in Dutch, Indonesian, English and Spanish.
(Read more below the slideshow...)
RNW from 1947 until today
In the early days RNW had a ‘Greetings Department’, since making phone calls across the globe was difficult and very expensive. RNW also broadcast news, current affairs and cultural programmes. The broadcasts of this period reflect the post-war reconstruction phase. In 1949, broadcasting started in Arabic and in Afrikaans for South Africa.
In 1950, a new department was set up to compile radio programmes and distribute them to foreign stations. At the same time music activities were begun serving partner stations abroad. RNW also gained an important new target group: Dutch emigrants in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In 1952, RNW began broadcasts aimed specifically at them.
In 1964, RNW’s music department was one of the first in Europe to make music recordings in stereo for foreign FM stations. The Radio Netherlands Training Centre was set up in 1968 to train radio personnel from developing countries. A French department was opened in 1969 and broadcasts in Portuguese to Brazil began in 1974. In 1975, there was a review of the programmes broadcast on short wave: a stronger emphasis was placed on news and current affairs programmes.
1990 - today
In 1991, RNW became the first organisation in the Netherlands, apart from the Dutch PTT, to be granted a licence to broadcast programmes directly by satellite for radio stations in Latin America, which relayed the signal locally. This was followed in 1992 by collaboration with local radio stations in Latin America. In 1994, RNW began working together with domestic broadcasters on the exchange and co-production of programmes. An RNW office was opened in West Africa in 1995 to serve listeners in the region via local radio stations.
Today RNW provides independent information and background reports in countries where press freedom is not a matter of course. This means that millions of people around the world with little or no access to information can enjoy reliable and impartial reporting. News about their own country and their own situation, as well as international news from a Dutch perspective.
RNW operates in ten languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Indonesian, Papiamento, Portuguese, Sarnami and Spanish) on short wave, satellite, internet Facebook, Twitter, Apps and partner stations all over the world.
Watch a video about Frans Klooster, RNW's longest-serving employee
From 2013 everything will be changing. Last year the Dutch government decided to cut back RNW’s budget drastically. In future RNW is to limit its focus to providing impartial information to people in countries where press freedom is an issue.
For a small group of RNW employees this will be a new challenge. Sadly, for the majority of the staff and for a large part of our audience this will mean the end of an era.