Court: Veronica penalty too high

The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that yanking the license of Holland’s largest pubcaster, Veronica, for up to seven weeks is too severe a penalty for improper activity on the part of the broadcaster’s management.

The court told Holland’s watchdog agency the Media Commission that it was correct in handing out a fine but asked it to re-examine its reasons for levying such a severe penalty.

Veronica was expected to lose millions of guilders in ad revenue if it went off the air.

The case dates back to 1990, when the powerful commission alleged it had found documented evidence that Veronica leaders had illegally used some dfl 7 million to 10 million Dutch florins of the broadcaster’s funds to help start up CLT-backed Luxembourg-based RTL 4, then known as RTL Veronique.

Veronica lost its case on appeal in Holland, but then asked the European Court of Justice to overturn Dutch rules forbidding the pubcasters from investing in commercial media in other European states. Veronica had argued that Dutch rules violated EC rules guaranteeing citizens the right to provide services and move capital across borders.

The EC court disagreed, and ruled the Dutch government had the right to make some rules for its pubcasters in order to preserve a non-commercial system.

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