Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hilversum enters Creative Collapse

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With the recent acquisition by Sanoma Media and a group of investors including John de Mol of  Pro-Sieben's channels in Holland (SBS6, NET5, Veronica), I think the future of Hilversum as a creative capital is becoming rather bleak. It may simply become the place where great productions are archived. It is no longer where the great ideas are born.

All the great emerging media experiments are happening in small start-ups in Amsterdam (some too in Rotterdam), as well as in the new entertainment studios de Mol has built near the Amsterdam Arena. They don't need the Media Park in Hilversum, which has always been a nightmare to reach in rush hours. Massive cuts to public broadcasting, without a clear path forward, means everyone is creeping into cocoons hoping they won't get hit when some of plan of action is announced in the summer. The public broadcasting sector in the Netherlands, fraught with fragmentation, has regressed into very nasty squabbles about quality and reach when no-one has defined what these terms mean. Believe me, you don't want to be working in Hilversum at the moment. I have never seen it so void of creative inspiration. With the exodus of some of the brighter brains to Amsterdam, all that is left is a collection of buildings (some inspiring like the VPRO building and the Sound and Vision centre) but most of them are drab offices where moving up in the hierarchy means you get a larger office.

The commercial sector, on the other hand, is blossoming. They understand that, for them, the public is the product. They deliver demographics to advertisers and, despite the social media hype, the agencies are still willing to pay top dollar for access to these (potential) clients. No news there, except they are doing it rather than just talking about it. They're investing millions in trying to understand how audiences want to be entertained. When will the public sector realise that their job is different?

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