Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Dutch public broadcast row over ... a game

Having returned from South-Africa, I am astonished again by the narrow mind of Dutch people and in particular of Dutch politicians, including the (not our) Prime Minister. It started yesterday in the early morning. The Dutch radio news had the item that the television program Lingo, a word game, was to be abolished. This program daily has an audience of more than 700.000 viewers. The channel coordinator indicated that the program would be abolished as it attracted too many senior people, while the channel was targeting on young people. (The channel coordinator was working in media professionally, but did not have a clue of the communication process, target group nor is he socially well versed). Immediately there was a loud protest. And not just a rumbling, but even a political protest...

In The Hague, where the Dutch government has its seat, political parties started to comment. Do not forget that the Dutch will have election at November 22nd, so many parties saw themselves forced to comment. The Christian party and the socialist party thought that it was a bloody shame and a discrimination of elderly people. Both parties welcome more votes, even with ridiculous statements. Even the prime minister, not exactly the most strong figure in the Netherlands, offered his opinion after the weekly session of ministers, saying that “from a human point of view he felt for the people who will miss Lingo. However the cabinet did not influence the programming”.

Instead of saying that the program should not be a part of the public broadcast, the prime minister is still in the business of soliciting votes. I am of the opinion that when the program would be taken of the Dutch public broadcast system, a commercial broadcast company would snap it up in less than 24 hours. And that is basically where it should be, in the commercial area and not in the public area.

In my view the public broadcast should limit itself to news, commentary on the news and arts and culture, which are not covered by the commercial broadcasting companies. To me the public broadcast companies should not be in the business of entertainment. And certainly not in games like Lingo, which has enough commercial potential.

Pursuing that line of thought, I think that the Dutch public broadcast should abandon at least one of its three TV channels and at least two of its radio channels. Besides they should not have government sponsored broadcast companies taking care of the programs, but have a board assigning programs to producers. The present Dutch public broadcast companies are all organisations claiming to represent a certain ‘believers’ group such as Christians, Muslims, Boeddhists, socialists; you name it. The Dutch public broadcast system should do away with the sectarianism and serve the nation with news and not views and basic programs.

This line of thought is not new. It has been presented in the past years by the Dutch Prime Ministers’ Scientific Council. But being a member of the Christian democrats, the Prime Minister has put this recommendation aside. It shows in which a small country can be great: trivia.


Blog Posting Number: 536

No comments: