Friday, January 25, 2013

Hilversum II - The Collapse continues

The mayor of Hilversum, a former newspaper journalist, is fighting a losing battle to keep broadcasters getting the hell out of what's become a creative ghost town. The Media Park to the North of Hilversum was planned in an era when large studios were a symbol of success - and power was visible in the size of your office - the more windows, the greater your status. The problem is that the setting is not inspiring. Given the choice of canals or car-parks, concrete or cafes, Amsterdam wins hands down.

Hilversum never had a heart
Creative City Centre - Amsterdam
The various production houses that make up Holland's chaotic public broadcasting system decided they needed to build their own studios - and did. In the 1990's and well into this new Millennium, the concrete was being poured at several sites. Those at the top believed that traditional broadcasters would drive the growth of the Internet, but had no clue (or interest) in other ways that production could be organised - other that building more studios. Now that consolidation has set in big time for the public broadcasters, the fusion of several broadcasters, is leading to an ever growing confusion. Broadcasters like the VARA and BNN feel the need to get out of their existing buildings and consolidate into another one. But where? They are threatening to move to Amsterdam. I would argue that since many of their studio based programmes already come from Amsterdam, they should simply go all the way. The better production companies, like Tuvalu, have already decided, and are off to be part of the media harbour near Central Station.

In the case of the TROS and KRO, thie new home might be in the now nearly empty building of what was Radio Nederland Wereldomroep ( Dutch International broadcasting service).
Radio Netherlands building, shuttered and nearly empty

Another round of cuts have been announced, (100 million Euro) and the boss of the Netherlands Public Broadcasting corporation (NPO) has said most of the new savings will come off amusement and sports coverage.  Bad news for the public broadcaster, the TROS, which has put its eggs into the amusement sector for years. The TROS has been one of the parties mentioned to move into the old Wereldomroep building, once asbestos has been removed (!). Will they really need all that space?

I see that commercial radio station 100%NL, currently on the top floor of RNW, is shortly to exit too - heading off to Naarden.

Voice of Holland production studios
Is there anything creative left in Hilversum? VPRO does some original work on TV, especially in the field of science and documentaries. Voice of Holland is the major commercial success story. But why sit in Hilversum to do that?

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