I would be interested to learn if A2K members in other countries have observed a similar organized movement by right wing conservatives, especially right wing religious parties.
A movement by right wing religious parties to take over the media? No, don' think I've seen anything like that. The most read newspaper
, The Telegraaf
, still is the scandalmongering, populist rag it always was, to Dutch standards anyway (it was already "wrong in the war", the ultimate litmus test here), and all the other papers are timidly centrist or centre-left. I posted an overview of our newspapers
the other day. One of the smaller ones is Christian, but it leans left.
Additionally the "small right", as the parties of the orthodox "black-stocking" Protestants used to be called (having hovered between 5 and 8 seats in parliament, out of 150, since 1981) also have their own newspapers, the Dutch Daily
and the Reformed Daily
, with limited but stable printruns.
If anything, the rightwing parties - or any
parties, rather - have much less of a stranglehold on the media than they did in the past. Up till the late sixties or so, most every national newspaper represented the "voice" of a specific political party. Trouw
spoke for the protestants, de Tijd
and de Volkskrant
for the catholics, the NRC
for the right-wing liberals, het Vrije Volk
and het Parool
for the social-democrats and de Waarheid
for the communists.
Only some of them, like de Waarheid
, were party organs outright, but they were all kept on a pretty tight rein by their respective socio-political "pillar". After the war, for example, Catholic People's Party leader Romme was also an editor-in-chief of de Volkskrant
, and Bruins Slot, the parliamentary leader of the protestant Anti-Revolutionary Party, was also editor-in-chief of Trouw
. Their position highlighted a tradition that went back to 1869, when liberal statesman Thorbecke, one of the fathers of modern Dutch democracy, stated that all daily newspapers should be party organs, and that the party leaders should determine in this what would serve party interest.
It was an approach that guaranteed diversity in the media landscape, but, needless to say, hampered journalistic independence. And since catholics were told by their priests that they would go to hell if they read a socialist newspaper, and socialists could not afford their neighbour to see that a liberal newspaper was delivered, the ideological diversity of the media landscape as a whole did nothing to detract from the jealously guarded narrow info spaces in which each of the religious-ideological communities was constrained (with the possible exception of the slightly more free-minded liberals).
But since the so-called de-pillarisation of the sixties and seventies, all that is gone now. The papers have long since wrestled themselves out of any political control, and those that didn't, perished. Each newspaper now has become much more of a varied container of opinions, its slant evidenced only by a more diffuse, less homogenous general thrust of reporting. Journalistic independence has increased a lot compared to those bad old days - even if, in return, it has (ironically) made the newspapers resemble each other all the more. They're all now more or less in the same broad, "standard" centrist or centre-left playing field.
The same pretty much goes for our highly complicated public broadcasting system, now consisting of three TV channels divided up between eight large and a host of smaller broadcasting organisations. Those broadcasting organisations were originally founded on the basis of political and religious persuasion. The idea was that each religious and political persuasion should have access to its own broadcasting time, and thus catholic, protestant, liberal, socialist and free-thinking broadcasting associations were founded. Each is assigned broadcasting time proportionally to the number of members they have.
A few things happened after the war, notably from the 60s onwards, to undermine the system. For one, as "depillarisation" set in and audiences became more fleeting, less delineated, broadcasters started to compete with each other for the same groups. They started member drives based on their TV guides: all the way up till this year, it was the broadcasting associations that collectively held the right to programming info, and so the only way to get a detailed overview of what's on the tube was by becoming a member of one or the other association (or, more expensively, buying their TV guide). One's guide was cheaper, the other more colourful, and thus conviction and membership started to diverge.
Then came the "pirate" stations, Veronica broadcasting from a ship in the North Sea. Eventually, such wholly non-political newcomers were incorporated into the system, even though they did not represent, as the law prescribed, any political or religious persuasion. Timeslots for commercials were expanded and became an ever more important source of income for the broadcasters and that, too, stimulated them to let audience ratings rather than ideological principles drive their programming decisions. The resulting liberation from ideological constraints yielded newly independent news and background reporting, but also ever more bland commercialised programming.
The emergence of commercial Dutch-language television in the late eighties, initially broadcast from Luxemburg to avert the legislation banning it, heralded a second wave of the same sort of development. By now, the three public channels are left with about 30-40% of the audience, with some five or six mainstream commercial stations taking another 40-50% and specialised and foreign stations taking the rest.
What this has lead to is, on the one hand, a range of commercial stations that do not seem to represent any specific or divergent political orientation. The main differences are between those that cater to Joe Average with the regular game shows and soap series, and those that push the envelope ever further, pioneering ever more daring shows. Note that Big Brother
was originally invented in Holland - for which my apologies - and that we've since moved on to shows in which couples are separated and tempted to cheat on their partner and shows in which teens are taken to Mediterranean beach resorts and encouraged to get pissed and misbehave. Nothing all too pleasant, but no political slant to be detected, or it would have to be the hedonist, materialist, egoist neo-liberal one, in a subtext kind of way.
On the other hand, there's a range of public broadcasters that in name are still "political", but in practice work ever more together as simply three different stations; Netherlands 3 (where the erstwhile socialists and free-thinkers went, along with a host of tiny broadcasters like the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Humanist associations), for news, culture, alternative and in-depth programming and multicultural programmes; Netherlands 1 (where the erstwhile protestants, catholics and liberals went), for the somewhat more sedate programming that appeals to a mostly older audience; and Netherlands 2, an awkward mix of broadcasters trying to outcommercialise the commercial stations and the Evangelical Broadcaster.
The Evangelical Broadcaster (EO) is indeed the only thing I can think of here that approaches your question about the religious right taking over. It's a relatively young broadcaster, but its emergence and heyday still dates back to a decade or two ago. It started broadcasting in 1970 with a modest "C-status", but achieved "B-status" in 1983. Unlike the already depillarised catholic and 'regular' protestant broadcasters, it still held (and holds) stringently to its religious identity. With its membership quickly outpacing those of the "regular" broadcasters as the 1980s came round, the EO sure caught a lot of attention back then, organising huge National Days full of gospel and other entertainment for its fast-growing youth club.
Nevertheless, it too eventually was relatively co-opted by the broadcasting system, as its further growth (eventually achieving "A-status" in 1992) coincided with the convergence of broadcasters within the three stations. Its programming is still markedly religious, but it now co-produces its current affairs, for example, with the secular TROS. Furthermore, the massive emergence of commercial TV in the 90s has reduced the impact of any
public broadcaster significantly, in any case. Last year, the EO had to actually shrink its operation for the first time ever.
I'm curious to learn whether their efforts are largely confined to the US or if it is a world-wide movement. We can see the obvious religious right movement in Muslim countries. But how widespread is the revolution?
<nods, liking and agreeing with the "religious right" definition for Muslim fundamentalists>