Dutch pubcasters don’t want to have fun

Coalition votes to back Van der Laan's plans

AMSTERDAM — Entertainment programs such as the long-running Endemol format “Love Letters” could be banned from Holland’s three pubcasting channels by 2008 if the Dutch ruling coalition has its way.

The coalition voted Saturday to back deputy secretary of culture Medy Van der Laan’s plans to cut entertainment from the pubcasters in favor of content that informs or carries a message.

Van der Laan cited the long-running and popular political satire “Kopspijkers” as acceptable because it is entertaining as well as informative.

The coalition’s decision has shaken the pubcasters, already smarting from losing important soccer rights to Dutch media mogul John de Mol’s new TV venture.

Karel van Doodewaerd, chairman of TROS, one of the major players in the pubcaster system’s collection of more than two dozen broadcasting companies, said he felt betrayed by Van der Laan.

“How do you define entertainment and amusement? This comes close to telling people how they should think. And when you begin to do that, where do you stop?” said Marc van Hal, Doodewaerd’s spokesman.

Ton Verlend, director of media at KRO, one of the system’s biggest pubcasters, said while KRO is confident its programming meets the criteria, the larger question is who decides what can and can’t be aired.

Endemol is “very curious about how Van der Laan is going to set this up,” said Endemol Netherlands spokesman Jeroen van Waardenberg.

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