Dutch television and radio stations produce on a daily basis high-quality information programs analyzing government decisions. The main public news channel, NOS, is required to provide 15 hours of reporting on political issues every week. On the radio, the First Channel is tasked with providing primarily information. In recent years, the scope of the First Channel within society has been decreasing. This is not surprising since new media (i.e., the Internet) have grown at the expense of more traditional media and are becoming more influential in the provision of news. Strikingly, parliamentary debates are no longer publicly broadcasted on television. Nonetheless, NOS broadcasts Politiek 24, a digital television channel on the Internet that contains live streams of public debates, analyses, background information and a daily political show.
The chair of parliament has recently criticized the media for its lack of investigative reporting on public debates. Journalists are said to report only on issues for which they expect to attract a large amount of public attention rather than report on politically important issues. The Netherlands has increasingly developed the features of a mediacracy, a democracy governed by those who exercise power over the media in order to influence the populace. For example, a highly unflattering interview of the minister for housing, residential areas and integration was broadcast on public television channels and resulted in her resignation.
This, in turn, influences politicians who act strategically in order to attract journalists. Politicians now more than ever have to react to short-term issues in order to get attention by journalists instead of focusing on the content of political issues that attract less attention.
The Council for Culture, Committee Media is tasked with providing recommendations on issues relating to culture and media to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science every four years. The Council is also involved in the evaluation of public broadcasting and concession provision to channels. There is a performance contract with national government. The public broadcasting agency fears the performance agreement will lead to an increase of unwanted recommendations. Recently, the Council expressed concerns about the increasing influence of politics on news provision and media diversification among public channels. The worries are partly due to the loss of duties paid by citizens for accessing public television and radio broadcasts (kijk- en luistergeld). Other concerns relate to the growing number of public channels competing against each other within a limited amount of broadcasting time. The emphasis on news provision among public channels is fading as they aim to meet the goals of increasing their viewing figures, which entails a diversification of content.
Raad voor Cultuur, Advies Meerjarenbegroting 2009-2013 Nederlandse publieke omroep.
Politici en journalisten willen te vaak scoren; Kamervoorzitter: burger komt niet te weten wat er werkelijk gebeurt in Den Haag., Joop.nl/Politiek, 11 november 2009.
Media monitor: http://www.mediamonitor.nl/
Part of Commissiariaat voor de Media (www.cvdm.nl)