The nine national commercial radio stations in the Netherlands will have to reapply for their licenses when they end in 2017, the Dutch minister of economic affairs Henk Kemp has announced. The government also opens a new DAB+ national network for 15 commercial radio stations, but postpones the decision to close down FM.
The commercial radio stations have previously called for a renewal of the current national FM licenses, which were awarded in 2003 and renewed in 2011.
The new national licenses will be for the period 2017-2027 and include both FM and DAB+. They will be sold to the highest bidders in the spring of 2017. In a second stage 38 regional licenses (FM and DAB+) will be awarded and in a third stage the rest of the capacity of the DAB+ blocks will be made available.
In 2003, the national licenses were awarded using a combination of bidding and a ”beauty contest” model, with special licenses for Dutch music, news, oldies, alternative music and jazz. The government says that the availabilty of digital radio means that there is no longer the same need for restrictions on programming or on the number of stations that a company can own. There will however still be two special national licenses for Dutch music and news.
In 2009, there was a decision to eventually replace FM with DAB+ digital terrestrial radio. DAB+ is now available in most of the country and commercial radio began broadcasting nationally two years ago. The Dutch launch of DAB+ has been called the most successful yet in Europe, thanks to high sales figures for digital receivers. FM only accounts for 47% of listening, but this is mostly due to the strength of digital cable radio which has 37% of home listening. Commercial radio has said it is possible to close down FM in 2023. But DAB+ still has just 3% of radio listening, which is the main reason for the government to postpone the decision to drop FM broadcasting.
The government wants to stengthen the uptake of DAB+ with the combined licenses for FM and DAB+ and improved indoor reception of DAB+.
The public radio stations within the NPO aren’t included in the decision, but public service has space for 15 stations in its own DAB+ network for the period 2016-2020. Later this year, the government will announce stricter rules for the programming of public service radio stations.
The largest commercial radio groups in the Netherlands are Telegraaf Media Groep (Sky Radio and Radio Veronica), Talpa Media (Radio 538 and Slam! FM), Persgroep (Q-Music) and FD-Mediagroep (BNR). Radiocorp’s 100%NL and Radio 10 and Sublime FM also have national coverage. The current marketshares can be found on our Ratings page.
The radio advertising market is worth 223 million euros, with 45.7% going to national commercial radio, 34.5% to public radio and the rest to local and regional stations.
New National Licenses in The Netherlands in 2017
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