History of Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The history of Dutch international radio begins on 11 March 1927 with shortwave broadcasts to the Dutch East Indies via the PCJ shortwave transmitter at the Philips Laboratories in Eindhoven. Philips understood the possibilities of what was then a new medium and developed a market for shortwave broadcasters and receivers. Philips wanted good quality programmes and a strong political and economic base. On the evening of 31 March 1927, the company scored a publicity coup when Queen Wilhelmina addressed the colonial population via the PCJ transmitter.
The development of the shortwave market proved to be a long-haul prospect. In April 1940, Interior Minister Hendrik van Boeyen presented parliament with a draft bill proposing an international radio service organised along denominational lines. Then came the war. The Dutch government founded Radio Orange in London and the BBC offered facilities and airtime. While the programmes produced by Radio Orange were becoming more important in the Netherlands under Nazi occupation, the head of programming, Henk van den Broek, was thinking of the future. The Royal Decree of 17 September 1944, put radio under the control of the cabinet office minister, who in turn handed over the business of broadcasting to the sub-section Radio of the Military Authorities. Mr van den Broek, now a captain in the army, travelled to liberated Eindhoven and began broadcasts as "Radio Nederland Herrijzend" on 3 October 1944.
Foundation in transition
On 24 May 1945, the first "world programme" was broadcast for Dutch people living abroad. Because the domestic facilities had been destroyed in the war, the BBC was once again asked to help. In July 1945, the post-war government decided to set up the "Radio Netherlands in Time of Transition Foundation" (Stichting Radio Nederland in den Overgangstijd) which was given the responsibility for national and international broadcasts and put in charge of all broadcasters. From 13 October 1945, broadcasts began again via the radio's own facilities, which had been repaired.
In the following years the government debated how Dutch radio should be organised and decided to separate national and international broadcasting. The Radio Netherlands International Foundation (Stichting Radio Nederland Wereldomroep) was established on 15 April 1947 with Mr van den Broek as director. The corporation's remit was "to put together and prepare for broadcast radio programmes to be received outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands and in Europe". Broadcasts were made in Dutch, Indonesian, English and Spanish.
2. Radio Netherlands in the period 1947-2004
In its early years Radio Netherlands had a "Greetings Department", since overseas telephony was difficult and expensive. The station also broadcast news, current events and cultural programmes. The broadcasts record the post-war reconstruction period. Transmissions in Arabic and Afrikaans (for South Africa) began in 1949. Twenty years later, a French language section was set up, and in 1974 the first Portuguese broadcasts to Brazil began.
In 1950 a special department was set up to compile radio programmes and distribute them to foreign stations. Activities in the area of music began shortly thereafter, by way of partner stations abroad. Shortwave acquired another important target group in the 1950s: emigrants in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Transmission to these areas began in 1952.
In 1964, Radio Netherlands' music department was one of the first in Europe to make stereo music recordings for foreign FM radio stations. The Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) was set up in 1968, to train radio employees from developing countries. In 1975, there was a review of the choice of programmes offered on shortwave: more emphasis was put on news and current events.
In 1991 Radio Netherlands was the only organisation in the country, other than the Dutch postal service, to be given a licence to broadcast programmes directly by satellite for radio stations in Latin America. This was followed in 1992 by collaboration with local radio stations there. The collaboration with local radio stations in Latin America, Africa, Europe and North America was stepped up in 1994. The following year, an office was set up in West Africa to serve listeners in the region via local radio stations. In 1994, Dutch-language broadcasts in Europe were expanded to 12 hours per day. This coincided with the beginning of the collaboration with domestic broadcasting corporations for the exchange and co-production of programmes.
Radio Netherlands continued to expand in the area of technology. In 1969 it opened a shortwave transmitter station on the Caribbean island of Bonaire and in 1972, a shortwave transmitter station in Madagascar. NOZEMA's shortwave station in the Flevo Polder officially opened in 1985. Radio Netherlands was its principal leaseholder. Following the dissolution of NOZEMA, the transmitter site was sold to Dutch telecommunications company KPN. Radio Netherlands Worldwide no longer broadcasts from Flevo, and instead makes use of a network of over 20 transmitter sites around the world shared with other broadcasters.
The television department was set up in 1960. Under the name Radio Netherlands Television it sold Dutch television documentaries for an affordable price on the international market. In 1990, the department began providing weekly news contributions for the CNN World Report. In 1996, in collaboration with the NOS, it began producing Dutch-language television for viewers in Europe, under the name Zomer-TV (Summer TV). This was the predecessor of "The Best from Flanders and the Netherlands" or BVN-TV, which was started in 1998. The next year, BVN-TV added the United States, Canada and the Caribbean to its area of operations, followed by southern Africa in 2002.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has its eye on the future and is quick to adopt new technological developments. It was one of the first Dutch broadcasting organisations to open an e-mail address where listeners could send their comments. Since 1996, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has kept its listeners informed through daily newsletters and websites, including this one, in multiple languages. The music department and BVN-TV also support their activities through their own websites.
3. Radio Netherlands Worldwide today
Radio Netherlands Worldwide is the Netherlands' international service, offering news, information and culture to millions of people around the world. Its goals have been laid down in the Mission Statement: "To contribute, on behalf of and for the benefit of the Netherlands, to a better informed world through a combination of independent journalism and other media services."
A broad range of programmes in Dutch, English, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Sarnami, Papiamentu, Arabic and Chinese serve to achieve these goals, taking into account the varying information needs of different target audiences and adapting its programming to fit the media situation in various regions.
The RNTC provides training courses for individuals and organisations and develops projects with partner organisations in developing countries and countries in transition.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide is among the five most influential international services in the world, the other four being Voice of America, BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle and Radio France Internationale. However, Radio Netherlands Worldwide ranks 18th in terms of budget. In Latin America, the organisation is market leader in the field of cooperation with local radio stations. In Indonesia, Radio Netherlands Worldwide is one of the most popular international stations due to its objective and reliable reporting (based on research commissioned by the BBC.) The English language service is a regular winner of international prizes for its documentary and feature programme output.