Dutch pubcasters to revamp

Channels take on new identity

AMSTERDAM — After a decade of plunging audience and advertising shares, Dutch pubcasters have succumbed to market forces: In the new century, they will have distinct profiles aimed at capturing more viewers and advertisers.

This move comes after a decade of facelifts by the pubcasters, which have been broadcasting hodgepodge skeds across three channels in various schemes aimed at achieving some kind of brand identity — with little success.

Under the new system, to bow in 2000, Channel 1 will become an information channel, Channel 2 will air general entertainment and Channel 3 will focus on cultural fare, with an afternoon block of kid shows.

“There are details to be worked out, and it won’t happen overnight,” said Jan Willem Bult, program manager for youth TV at pubcaster RO. “It will be much easier to program when we have a block on one channel rather than scattering kids programming across three.”

Under the new system, for example, pubcaster ROS will remain on Channel 2 since its programming is largely general entertainment, but “Teletubbies” will move over to Channel 3.

Program puzzlement

The move is expected to generate an identity crisis in the pubcaster ranks. After nearly a half-century in which many of the broadcasters represented political, religious or special-interest groups, some will become little more than production outfits servicing the three channels.

EO, whose evangelical religious programming had been sequestered on Channel 2 for a number of years, is one of those content with the new order, however. Under the new system, half of EO’s more than 1,000 hours of programming each year will end up on both Channel 1 and 2, giving it more room to spread its message.