Today’s Opinion: Wereldomroep, The end of an era

POSTED: 06/9/11 12:58 PM

The Wereldomroep, Global Dutch Radio, is going to implement austerity measures by cutting its budget with €10 million to €36 million ($52.5 million), axing almost 22 percent. One of the victims of this operation is the Wereldomroep broadcasting station in Bonaire.

It is not exactly clear when it will close down but that it will disappear is certain. The broadcaster will also close its station in Madagascar. Approximately 100 jobs at these stations and at the main office in Hilversum will disappear.

This is however a best case scenario. On the day when Wereldomroep director Jan Hoek published his vision on the organization’s future, the TV-station RTL reported that the government has much more drastic budget cuts in mind. According to the RTL report, the Wereldomroep would have to get used to a budget of just €10 million ($14.5 million).

That budget is designed to cover the costs for press freedom activities. Hoek states on the company’s web site that its activities will focus on countries where freedom of the press is not obvious.

If RTL’s report is on the mark, and the broadcaster’s budget is going to be slashed by a whopping 78.2 percent, many more jobs will be lost and the voice of the Wereldomroep will disappear in many countries.

Politicians, especially the Freedom Party, have argued that the Wereldomroep is something of a dinosaur, and that the internet has taken over many of its functions. But Jan Hoek points out on the web site that only 30 percent of the world population has access to internet.

True or false? We have to admit that we never listen to the Wereldomroep, but it seems a bit arrogant to take this as the yard stick for the value the station has for many listeners. It is easy to dismiss something as irrelevant if you have access to so many alternatives, but we figure that people who live out in the sticks with a shortwave radio as their only lifeline to the civilized world are still quite happy with that voice from home coming over the airwaves.

That the station in Bonaire is going to disappear is in itself sad enough. It is the end of an era that will, unfortunately, soon be forgotten.


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