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Netherlands Public Broadcasting


Netherlands Public Broadcasting

Netherlands Public Broadcasting
Nederlandse Publieke Omroep
Founded 1930
(Broadcast Hours Order)
Headquarters Hilversum, Netherlands
Key people Henk Hagoort
Products Television programmes
Radio programming
Owner(s) Government of the Netherlands

Netherlands Public Broadcasting, Dutch: Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (abbr. NPO), is the name used in the Netherlands to refer to the country's public-service broadcasting system as a whole; it is used, for instance, as the name of the joint web portal coordinated by the NPO on behalf of all the broadcasting associations.

Public-service broadcasting in the Netherlands is provided jointly by a number of broadcasting organizations under the tutelage of NPO.

Since September 2002, the Dutch membership of the European Broadcasting Union is held by Netherlands Public Broadcasting (since March 15, 2007 renamed Nederlandse Publieke Omroep). The Netherlands Radio Union (Nederlandse Radio Unie) was one of 23 founding organisations of the EBU.


Unlike most other countries' public broadcasting organizations – which are either national corporations (such as the BBC and France Télévisions / Radio France), federations of regional public-law bodies (for example, ARD, SRG SSR idée suisse), or governmental and member-based institutions with their own channels and facilities (such as PBS) – those in the Netherlands are member-based broadcasting associations that share common facilities. This arrangement has its origins in the system developed in the Netherlands early in the 20th century and known as pillarisation. Under this system the different confessional and political streams of Dutch society (Catholics, Protestants, socialists, etc.) all had their own separate associations, newspapers, sports clubs, educational institutions, and also broadcasting organizations.

The stated aim is to give a voice to each social group in the multicultural diversity that is Dutch society. The number of hours allocated to each broadcaster corresponds, roughly, to the number of members each organization is able to recruit (although this does not apply to NOS and NTR – see below). Since 2000, the system has been financed out of general taxation rather than from broadcast receiver licence fees. This is supplemented by a limited amount of on-air advertising, which has been allowed since 1967.

Nearly all viewers in the Netherlands receive most of their TV via cable or satellite systems. Regional public TV exists in parallel to the national system described below. Commercial television in the Netherlands began in 1989, with the Luxembourg-based RTL 4. In 1992, the government of the Netherlands officially legalised commercial TV, and many new commercial channels have become established since then.


The role of Netherlands Public Broadcasting can be defined as such:

  • The programming, distribution and organisation of its radio and television outlets
  • Distributing licence-fee money towards the various broadcasting associations (see below)
  • The assisting of subtitling, sales and purchase of programmes from broadcasters
  • Carrying out of independent research on the quality of its broadcast platforms

Through its own Management Board, Netherlands Public Broadcasting acts as a figurehead to current and aspiring broadcasting associations, the public broadcasters NOS and NTR and minority and religious associations.


Every year, the Dutch public broadcasting system is allocated funds from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. In 2008 the allocation was 738 million Euro [1] with revenues in 2009 from advertising totalling 196 million Euro.[2] The cost to each Dutch citizen is approximately 116 Euro per year, which is much less compared to the BBC in the United Kingdom (158 Euro, approx. 142 GBP), but more compared to VRT in Flemish Belgium (49 Euro).


The closed system (1920–1960)

Public broadcasting in the Netherlands has been since the very beginning in the early 1920s split up into different broadcasting associations with its members composed of listeners and viewers. These associations were based on the different ideological sections of Dutch society, called "Verzuiling" (pillarisation). Catholics, Protestants and Socialists were the first groups to create their own sections of society, including their own schools, hospitals, unions and political parties. When radio in the Netherlands started in the 1920s the existing groups quickly created their own broadcasting associations, producing programmes for the primary radio network, Hilversum 1. The first to start was the liberal AVRO, built around the commercial broadcaster HDO founded by the NSF transmitter factory in Huizen. Programs started July 21 1923. Airtime was rented to the several religious and political radio organisations--the Protestant NCRV, the Roman Catholic KRO, the Socialist VARA and the liberal Protestant VPRO. Each group was faithful to its broadcasting company. For example, it was considered unthinkable for a Protestant to listen to KRO programming. The programmes were funded by the associations' members. KRO and NCRV started their own station in 1927 with a transmitter also placed in Huizen and built by the NSF.

In 1930 the government regulated equal airtime for all organisations on the two stations and the semi-public broadcasting system was born. As a result, AVRO lost most of its airtime then (50%) to VARA and VPRO.

The radio licence fee was introduced by the Nazi occupation during World War II; the different broadcasting groups were urged by the Government for more co-operation between each other, and the Netherlands Radio Union (Dutch:Nederlandse Radio Unie) was formed, producing joint programmes.

1951 saw the introduction of television and a similar joint union was founded: the Netherlands Television Foundation (Nederlandse Televisie Stichting), supplying studios and facilities for the associations. These broadcasts would air on a channel, called Nederland 1 with a second channel, Nederland 2 launching in 1964.

The closed system opens up (1960–1990)

With the arrival of illegal offshore commercial radio stations, such as Radio Veronica in 1960 and Radio Nordzee in 1964, Hilversum 3 launched in 1965 to provide a legal alternative and to steer audiences towards the public service channels. Hilversum 3 was renamed, along with the other two networks to Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 towards the late 1980s.

In 1967 a Broadcasting Act was passed into law, providing an official framework to supply the public with information, entertainment, culture and education, with time allocated to appointed broadcasting associations based on the number of members each association had. It also allowed:

  • Other organisations access to the public system, including the former commercial pirate broadcasters TROS and Veronica and the evangelical Christian EO to diversify programming;
  • Advertising revenue was added, handled by an independent agency called STER
  • The Netherlands Radio Union (NRU) and the Netherlands Television Foundation (NTS) merged to form the NOS, charged with providing news and sport programmes as well as general co-ordination of the public system.[3]

A new Media Act in 1988 meant that broadcasters no longer were obligated to use production facilities supplied by the NOS. These facilities were spun-off into a new private company. Programme quotas were introduced, which meant associations must produce:

  • 25% news and information programmes
  • 25% entertainment and general programming
  • 20% cultural
  • 5% educational

A new media regulator (Commissariaat voor de Media) was created to regulate the public and private networks with the ability to impose fines, with a programming fund designed to encourage cultural broadcasts. New rules for the cable industry were also stipulated which meant the public networks were designated must-carry status.[3]

The appearance of private media (1990–2000)

A third television network, Nederland 3 launched in April 1988, in anticipation of the launch of new commercial channels broadcast by satellite. Luxembourg-based RTL-Véronique began broadcasting in October 1989. In 1992, the government of the Netherlands officially legalised commercial TV, and many new commercial channels have become established since then with the result of market share for public television falling from 85% to 50% by 1994. Veronica, after 20 years, decided to leave the public system to become a commercial broadcaster. Further private channels from RTL and SBS reduced market shares for the public networks further 40% in 1996.[3]

With the change in the television landscape, changes were made to strengthen the public sector. Its financial revenues were improved with an increase in advertising minutage and the licence fee indexed to the cost of living. In 1995 the programming duties of the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation (NOS) were split in two, with the creation of the NPS (Netherlands Programming Foundation).[4] NOS were now charged with providing news, sport and coverage of important live events while the NPS provided cultural and children's programming.

The previous NOS management was replaced with a three-man board, now charged with developing strategies and responsibility for all public output. Programming co-ordinators were appointed for each television and radio network and channel identities were created, largely replacing the varying on-air presentation of the pillar broadcasters. The broadcasting associations also have a degree of input through a Supervisory Board.

Market share for the public networks stabilized in 1999 at 38%,[3] with the entry of a new broadcasting association, the first in 25 years. BNN (Bart's News Network, later Bart's Neverending Network) replaced Veronica as programme supplier to teenagers and young adults.

Diversification and expansion (2000 - 2010)

Since the open system any company can become a broadcasting company and get radio and TV airtime. The only thing required is to request an official status from the government and to have enough members. Broadcast companies in the Netherlands still have to make sure every year they have enough members to keep their official status, and most of them sell TV-guides or other magazines and make every subscriber a member of their organization.

Many people question if the current system is still applicable in this age of digital broadcasting. There were plans leading up to the 2002 general election to change the way broadcast companies are selected, and completely abolish the member-based system. Vocal critics included Pim Fortuyn, the assassinated leader of his own right-wing party. However, currently the system is still the way it always has been, and a new system will probably only make its appearance in several years.

From September 2010, new broadcasting associations PowNed and Wakker Nederland (WNL) were approved to enter the public broadcasting system by the Minister of Culture and Education Ronald Plasterk. Another association, MAX was given full recognition and can increase its broadcasting hours, conversely, LLiNK was withdrawn and no longer has access. Meanwhile, the NPS, Teleac and the RVU institutions merged into one public broadcaster, the NTR, delivering cultural, educational, current affairs and children's programmes to the public system.[5]

Cuts to the public system (2010 - present)

On January 18, 2010, Henk Hagoort, chairman of the NPO Management Board, announced a scaling back of the amount of broadcasting associations using the public airwaves to 15 by 2015.[6] He also warned of the threat of political parties which could influence programming in the public broadcasting system.

In September 2010 cuts to the public system took effect, with the existing eleven full-time broadcasting associations facing decisions about its future. Part-time Islamic broadcasters NMO, NIO and the merged SMON were all withdrawn from the public system.

In March 2012, NPO announced the closure of two of its digital television channels. Geschiedenis 24 (History 24) and Consumenten 24 (Consumer 24) closed on 1 April, with history programmes transferred to Holland Doc 24 and consumer programmes looked after by VARA via an online portal[7]

Future plans (from 2016)

From 2015, Netherlands Public Broadcasting will face a budget shortfall of 200 million euro. To address this, the number of broadcasting associations within the public system is to be reduced. Mergers have been confirmed between existing broadcasting associations:

Broadcaster Type Programming Broadcaster Type Programming Broadcaster Type Programming
1 AVRO/TROS[8] A Popular and general entertainment 4 EO + IKON & ZvK B Protestant 7 NOS + Omrop Fryslân,[9] PP & Socutera[10] Task-based News, sport, events, political broadcasts, West Frisian
2 BNN/VARA[11] A Youth and social awareness 5 MAX/WNL B General, over 50's 8 NTR + JO & OHM Task-based Cultural, education, diversity
3 KRO/NCRV[12] +RKK A Populist, Catholic/Protestant-leaning 6 VPRO + BOS & HUMAN B Cultural, socially liberal 9 STER Other Advertising
  • PowNed will cease as a member-based broadcaster to become a production company.

List of broadcasters

Member based

There are currently twelve member-based broadcasting associations:[3]

  • AVRO (Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep) (English: General Radio Broadcasting Association): One of the oldest broadcasters in the system, its mission emphasizes its liberal roots by "promoting freedom"
  • BNN (Bart's Neverending Network): Founded by Bart de Graaff, its programming is primarily aimed at a younger audience, often dealing with pop culture and shock value.
  • EO (Evangelische Omroep) (English: Evangelical Broadcasting): A Protestant Christian broadcaster, often broadcasting programs of an evangelical nature.
  • KRO (Katholieke Radio Omroep) (English: Catholic Radio Broadcasting): Catholic broadcaster. Has predominantly non-religious programming and tends to be liberal.
  • MAX: airs programming aimed at viewers over 50.
  • NCRV (Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging): (English: Dutch Christian Radio Association): The main Protestant broadcaster
  • PowNed (Publieke Omroep Weldenkend Nederland En DergelijkeLaunching): Launched in 2010, the broadcaster is a spin-off of the infamous political blog
  • TROS (originally: Televisie Radio Omroep Stichting) (English: Television Radio Broadcasting Foundation): The most popular broadcaster, a general broadcaster with the largest amount of broadcasting time and programmes, with a focus on entertainment. The TROS originated from a commercial pirate TV station. The TROS is known for giving particularly much attention to Dutch folk music and promoting such artists. From 2010 it will take charge of the organization of the Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands.
  • VARA (originally: Verenigde Arbeiders Radio Amateurs) (English: United Workers Radio Amateur ): Large broadcaster with a left-wing labour oriented background. VARA broadcasts popular programmes such as De Wereld Draait Door.
  • VPRO (originally: Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep) (English: Liberal Protestant Radio Broadcasting): Quirky, independently minded broadcaster with a progressive liberal background. Lots of original cultural programming of an intellectual nature.
  • WNL (Wakker Nederland): New broadcaster initiated by the De Telegraaf newspaper group.

Task based

In addition, there are now two official "public service broadcasters" created under the Media Act of 1988:[3]

  • NOS (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting) (English: Dutch Broadcasting Foundation): Focused on news, parliamentary reporting and sports. Aims to be objective and produces the "NOS Journaal", the main (daytime/evening) news on the public channels. It coordinates the other public broadcasters and creates most of the teletext pages. Until 2002, the NOS also served as the Dutch representative in the EBU. That role has been taken over by Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPB).
  • NTR A new public broadcaster from September 2010. Specialises in providing news and information as well as cultural, educational, children's, and ethnic programming. NTR is a merger of the former public broadcasters NPS, Teleac and RVU.


Apart from the member and task based broadcasters, a small amount of airtime is given to smaller organizations, which represent religions, have educational programs, or received airtime for other reasons. None of these organizations have any members.

  • BOS (Boeddhistische Omroep Stichting): A small Buddhist broadcaster.
  • Humanistische Omroep (HUMAN): A small broadcaster dedicated to secular Humanism.
  • IKON (Interkerkelijke Omroep Nederland): A small broadcaster representing a diverse set of nine mainstream Christian churches.
  • Joodse Omroep The new name of NIKmedia (Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap): Dutch-Jewish broadcaster.
  • OHM (Organisatie Hindoe Media): Small Hindu broadcaster.
  • Omrop Fryslân (Frisian Broadcasting): Friesian regional broadcaster allocated airtime on the national television channels.
  • PP (Zendtijd voor Politieke partijen): Small broadcaster that broadcasts commercials of political parties which are represented in the Dutch parliament.
  • RKK (Rooms-Katholiek Kerkgenootschap): Small Roman Catholic broadcaster, actual programming produced by the KRO. Roman Catholic events and services on television are broadcast by the RKK.
  • Socutera (Stichting ter bevordering van Sociale en Culturele doeleinden door Televisie en Radio): Small broadcaster broadcasting promotions related to culture and charity.
  • STER (English: Foundation for Broadcast Advertising): Independent agency handling advertising exclusively on Netherlands Public Broadcasting's television, radio and online outlets. Created by the Broadcasting Act 1967 to prevent commercial influence on programming. Currently, income from advertising forms a third of the annual Media Budget to the public system.
  • ZvK (Zendtijd voor Kerken): Small broadcaster that broadcasts church services from some smaller Protestant churches.

Former broadcasters

  • Concertzender (1998–2009): Classical music. Left the national public system after Netherlands Public Broadcasting stopped financing the station in order to launch Radio 6. It continues to broadcast independently of the NPO.
  • LLiNK (2005–2010): Former broadcaster. Had public access withdrawn in 2010 due to Netherlands Public Broadcasting and the Commission for Media withdrawing financial support and stopped broadcasting at the end of 2010.[13] Made television programmes about subjects such as the environment and human rights.
  • NIO (Nederlandse Islamitische Omroep) (2005–2010): Small Islamic broadcaster, withdrawn from the public system in March 2010.
  • NMO (Nederlandse Moslim Omroep) (1993–2010): Small Islamic broadcaster, slightly more progressive than the NIO. Withdrawn from the public system in March 2010.[14]
  • NPS (Nederlandse Programma Stichting) (English: Dutch Programming Foundation) (1995–2010): Merged into NTR. Formerly part of the NOS, but split off in 1995. Produced cultural, factual, youth and minority-oriented programming. Produced the Dutch version of Sesame Street. It was considered to put the NOS and NPS back together in 2008, but that plan was scrapped.
  • RVU (Radio Volks Universiteit) (English: Popular Radio University) (1930–2010): Was a small educational broadcaster with a non-secular non-ideological nature. Member of Educom, a partnership with Teleac/NOT, merged into NTR.
  • Teleac (Televisie-academie) (English: Dutch Education Television) (1996–2010): Former larger educational broadcaster, merged into NTR. Produced courses on television and television for schools. Member of Educom, a partnership with RVU.[15]
  • Veronica (1975–1995): Former pirate radio broadcaster, entered the public system as a broadcasting association in 1975; its first programme was a classical music show on Hilversum 4.[16] Known for targeting teenagers and young adults. Withdrew in 1995 and became a commercial company as part of the Holland Media Groep. The TV and magazine departments are now owned by Sanoma and Talpa Media Holding. The Radio department is now part of the [Sky Radio Group].[17]


The broadcasting organisations produce programmes for the three main television channels and the twelve digital channels, available through Nederland 24. As of 4 July 2009 the three main channels are simulcasted in 1080i high-definition. Most programming in the early stages is upscaled as in time more programs will become available in native HD. From June 2 until August 24, 2008 a temporary high-definition version of the Nederland 1 channel was made available to broadcast Euro 2008, the 2008 Tour de France, and the 2008 Summer Olympics in HD before launch of the permanent HD service.


  • Nederland 1: News, current affairs, sports and family.
  • Nederland 2: Arts, culture, politics, news, current affairs and religion.
  • Nederland 3: Oriented towards youth and innovative television.
    • Zappelin: Block for children aged 2–6, broadcast on the Nederland 3 channel.
    • Zapp: Block for children aged 6–12, broadcast on the Nederland 3 channel.


Nederland 24 is the portal for the eight digital channels, available via digital cable, satellite, and internet.

You are able to watch these channels at this page: [1]


  • BVN - (Het Beste van Vlaanderen en Nederland) (English: The Best of Flanders and the Netherlands) Entertainment channel, available worldwide by satellite and cable. Programmes provided jointly from Netherlands Public Broadcasting, the NOS, VRT in Flanders Belgium and Radio Netherlands Worldwide.



  • Radio 1 - News, current affairs and sports coverage
  • Radio 2 - Pop music aimed at adults
  • 3FM - Pop, rock and dance music for a youth audience
  • Radio 4 - Classical music
  • Radio 5 - (Mon-Fri daytime) Pop music and chat, aimed at seniors, branded Radio 5 Nostalgia; (Mon-Fri evenings) specialist/ethnic programmes (Sat/Sun) Religious programming
  • Radio 6 - Soul, Jazz and World music with cultural information
  • FunX - urban and ethnic music for a young audience. Run as a collaboration with local public radio foundations in Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam. Programmes are made by the station (as opposed to the national member system), but is funded by Netherlands Public Broadcasting and takes NOS news bulletins.

A Radio 7 was planned to broadcast, featuring Radio 5's current specialist and religious programming,[18] however it was announced in 2009 that the network was to be postponed.[19]

Digital and web channels

The following digital and web channels are available via Netherlands Public Broadcasting's own



  • Radio Netherlands Worldwide - Destined for international listeners. It is an independent broadcaster and is outside of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting structure, however, like NPB it receives state funding.

Regional broadcasters

In addition to the national system, each Dutch province also has a broadcasting corporation supplying its own programming to its television and radio stations.


  • Nederland 24 portal for the digital themed channels.
  • Uitzending Gemist missed program service

See also


External links

  • Netherlands Public Broadcasting (Publieke Omroep)
  • List of public broadcasters with websites (English)

Coordinates: 52°13′26″N 5°10′16″E / 52.223991°N 5.170999°E / 52.223991; 5.170999

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