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02 December 2003

Shocked



For those of you who can read Dutch and who actually care about things like this:Quick Scan regionale omroepen.

This is the report of the study that was done into the problems of the broadcaster that I work for. The outcome of this study is shocking. If the Provincial Council does not come up with about 5 million Euros, my broadcaster will have to file for bankruptcy in a few months. This means that everyone will lose their job. And since the Province subsidises not 1 but 2 regional broadcasters in massive financial trouble, the Province will need to fork out about 10 million euro to keep both of them up and running. Will they do that? I don't know. It is a political decision they have to make. Based on the report, I could well understand if they said: I don't think so, not after the way these two broadcasters have fucked up their business.

But what about the people who work there? If there is no support, it will mean the end of about 250 jobs.

For those of you who do not understand: the Radio/TV in The Netherlands is the most complcated structure in the world. Yes, there is advertising, no it is not commercial. Yes, there is state influence, no it is not a state broadcaster like the BBC. The regional stations, like the one I work for, are financed by the Counties/Provinces they serve. Province Limburg subsidises RTV Limburg, and province Utrecht subsidises RTV Utrecht. The province of Zuid-Holland subsidises 2 regional broadcasters. Why? Because the Province is huge and because it is the main focus of economical activity in The Netherlands. There is Rotterdam with its harbours, and there is T Hgue with its government and international instititions. Two completely different areas in the same province. And to service them both properly, the situation grew that there came to be 2 regional broadcasters. Subsidised by the Province Council and the other part of the money comes from advertising. Still confused? Still interested? Try reading this brief history of Dutch broadcasting and maybe it will become clear.

And me? I am in England. I seem to be away everytime important news is made about my job. I was in Wales this summer when it became clear we were in massive trouble. My grandfather died and the day before his cremation, we were informed that they were going to fire 42 people (read: I was not there with my head and sat as a zombie thorugh the whole thing) and now, when the report that will decide everything comes out, I am abroad yet again. I feel I am missing all the important bits. On the other hand, I am glad to be away from it for a while. It has been less than fantastic in the past months. I think I will have to prepare for a future elsewhere. Oh hang on, I was already doing just that.

But what if I leave? What if everybody is so upset with the report and the bleak future that they leave? It will be like rats leaving a sinking ship with only a captain left at the rudder. Is that fair? Is that cowardice? Should we not all stay and try to rescue this broadcaster? I don't know. I think a lot of people will be doing a lot of long hard thinking.

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