Earlier this week, a court in Rotterdam ordered the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs to review the current FM frequency allocations for the national public broadcasters, Radios 1,2,3, & 4. This Ministry is responsible for spectrum allocation in the Netherlands.
Commercial radio broadcasters have brought this action to court on the grounds that public networks have been given unfair advantages in the allocation of their channels. The umbrella organisation representing the commercial radio industry (VCR) says public broadcasters get national coverage and don’t pay anything for their licences. Commercial broadcasters have paid a total of 330 million, but have 70% coverage of the country at best. Martin Banga, chairman of the VCR, says the court decision is a breakthrough for the commercial radio industry and hopes that a re-allocation of resources will mean better coverage for the commercial networks.
The price paid for FM frequencies has been one of the reasons commercial broadcasters have not invested in digital radio (DAB). They feel they overpaid for the FM frequencies in the first place. The Ministry of Economic Affairs had no comment at this stage, nor did the public relations department of Netherlands Public Broadcasting.