The most important channel providers in the Dutch market are the public broadcasters, with the national channels Ned 1, Ned 2, Ned 3, and all the digital channels grouped together under the Ned 24 banner. There is also the RTL Group, whose channels RTL 4, RTL 5, RTL 7, RTL 8, RTL Lounge, Crime and Telekids are licensed under Luxembourg law. The third provider, SBS Broadcasting (NET 5, SBS 6 and Veronica), was sold by ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG in May 2011 to Joop de Mol’s Talpa Media group, which is associated with the Finnish group Sanoma. (Audience data source: Eurodata TV Worldwide / Stichting Kijkonderzoek).
The Dutch audience market shares seem less concentrated than in other European countries, which can be partly explained by the cable network penetration and the IPTV networks. Digital television reached 80.1% of Dutch homes at the end of 2012. CAIW switched off its analogue cable transmissions in October 2010, the first cable operator to do so. The digitisation of the cable networks is a challenge for the traditional cable operators in the Netherlands, who are threatened by the new forms of competition in the multichannel television market. Although the cable subscription rate is still high, it has been decreasing for several years. The market is dominated by four companies. The leaders are Zesko (with its Ziggo package), with 2.9 million subscribers in December 2012, and UPC Nederland (Liberty Global), with 1.7 million. With more than a million subscribers to its IPTV service and over 700 000 to its Digitenne pay-DTT service, KPN has become the country’s second biggest operator.
On 4 June 2013, the Dutch House of Representatives discussed a legislative proposal to amend the Media Act 2008. State Secretary Dekker proposed several changes to the Media Act in reaction to the growing digitisation of media and the increased level of competition within the media sector. The proposal contains provisions relating to television as well as radio channels. An example of this digitisation is the vast rise of digital television and radio subscriptions as opposed to analogue subscriptions. An example of increased competition in the media sector is the introduction of services comparable to television or radio that are provided on the Internet. The core element of the legislative proposal is the introduction of a minimum amount of television channels that must be offered by digital television providers in their standard packages. This requirement can be found in Article 6.13 of the legislative proposal. Several requirements are set with regard to the minimum of 30 channels that have to be offered. For example, the package must contain three general channels of the regional public broadcaster. Also, the package must contain three channels of the Belgian public broadcaster that are in the Dutch language. The goal of the minimum amount of 30 channels that have to be offered is to maintain a sufficiently varied media offer in the standard television packages. The Dutch Commissariat for Media will supervise adherence to the new provisions.
The Dutch public service system (NPO) is complex and made up of three public bodies (NOS, NTR and STER), twelve principal associations and 11 associations with reduced transmission time. There are also an international broadcaster (BVN) and 13 regional and some 300 local broadcasters. NPO provides three general-interest channels, eight special-interest channels and various on-demand services.
On 14 February 2013, the Secretary of Education, Culture and Science, S. Dekker, introduced a bill to amend the Mediawet 2008 (Media Act 2008) in order to “modernise the system of national public broadcasting”. The system should become more compact in the future: in 2016 the public broadcasting service will consist of up to 8 broadcasters, instead of the current 21. The public broadcasting service will be composed of three cooperative broadcasters (AVRO/TROS, VARA/ BNN and KRO/NCRV), two task organisations (NOS and NTR) and three independent broadcasters (EO, MAX, VPRO).
New aspiring broadcasters can become part of the public broadcasting service as from 2016. Before the start of this new accreditation period, the current aspiring broadcasters, PowNed and WNL, should enter into cooperation with one of the three cooperative broadcasters or one of the three independent broadcasters. By means of the bill, the Government aims at modernising the public broadcasting service and cutting the budget. Broadcasters will receive in the future a basic budget of 50% to provide a minimum number of hours broadcast. Public broadcasters voluntarily merging, such as AVRO/TROS, VARA/BNN and KRO/NCRV, will be granted twice the basic budget and a merging bonus. Furthermore, the programme budget, which is provided by the Board of Directors of the Dutch Public Broadcasting Foundation, will be 50% of the total budget that is available for authorised broadcasters, instead of the current 30%.
This description was last updated in December 2013, along with details on channels and line-ups. Changes to channel offers are updated on a regular basis.