Dutch indies seeking hefty quota protection

AMSTERDAM — Dutch independent TV producers are demanding new and hefty quotas be levied on the state broadcasting system in order to save their own industry.

Holland’s Assn. of Independent Television Producers wants the country’s new media law to require at least 40% of all programming by state channels be commissioned to the indie sector. The measure is in draft before the Dutch parliament but could be amended before it is voted on, which is expected to be sometime in the near future.

The OTP, in heavy lobbying efforts in parliament and at state ministries, is also asking that the three public channels devote at least 35% of all broadcast time to Dutch language independent production.

Pubcasters are said to be cutting back commissions to the indie sector by as much as 30%, causing shrinking profit margins among even the country’s top indie producers. This week IDTV, Holland’s second-largest TV producer, warned it would be making major reductions to its work force this year in order to stay in the black.

A squeeze play?

Under the new media law, only one license would be issued to seven broadcasters. The other more than two dozen pubcasters currently in the state system could eventually be edged out.

“If they don’t have a future as a broadcaster, the only other avenue is to prepare themselves to be a production house,” Andries Overste, director of the OTP, told Daily Variety. He charged some of the pubcasters “are using public money from license fees to build up their own production companies” for this eventuality. “It’s unfair competition,” added Overste.

Pubcasters named as cutting back on commissions to the outside sector include VARA and TROS. TROS claims it has no plans to launch as an indie company. VARA could not be reached for comment.

IDTV was bought out last winter by CVI Media Group, a new entertainment company now owned by Dutch publishing giant VNU and UK media group Chysalis. Harry de Winter, CEO of both CVI and subsidiary IDtv, said the only company insulated against “the current malaise” was Endemol Entertainment. Endemol has an $83 million-a-year contract with the Holland Media Group producing programs for its three channels, RTL 4, RTL 5 and Veronica.

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