Dutch pubcaster falls into line

TROS to keep license

AMSTERDAM — Dutch public broadcaster TROS has told the government it wants to hang on to its license to stay inside the public broadcasting system until 2008.

TROS has reaffirmed an admissions request it filed earlier this year, essentially a formality for the nine main public broadcasters inside the Dutch state system if they want to keep their licenses.

TROS and AVRO, two of the biggest of the broadcasters, had been for the last few months threatening to leave the public system to launch a commercial venture. Both were told by the government to make up their minds by December 20 if they wanted to stay or go.

AVRO is expected to reassure the government by Dec. 20, it also wants to hang on to its license.

The move does not mean both won’t continue to consider possible options in the commercial arena.

TROS and AVRO have been unhappy with many of the changes in the public broadcasting system in recent years and are quite likely to go commercial, given a reasonable possibility of making a profit.

They have been in talks with Flemish commercial topper VTM over the possibly of launching a joint venture channel in Holland, but those talks quieted considerably when Dutch media mogul John de Mol announced the launch of his new TV venture, TV NL (Talpa TV).

Once TROS and AVRO accept the government’s offer to re-up their license, they may face a legal challenge if they decide to launch commercially in the near future.

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