However, RNW Media’s origins as an international media organisation go back twenty years further. In 1927, Dutch overseas broadcasts began with a shortwave transmission to the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) from Philips laboratories in Eindhoven.
The Dutch electronics giant was pioneering the new shortwave medium at the time. Its efforts were given a boost when Queen Wilhelmina addressed the colonial population via its PCJJ transmitter later that year.
PCJJ was soon broadcasting in English, Spanish, German and Dutch to a worldwide audience. These broadcasts from the Netherlands were interrupted by the German invasion in May 1940. The Dutch government in exile decided to set up Radio Oranje (named after the royal family) in London. The BBC provided airtime and facilities.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide
International broadcasts to Dutch people abroad resumed in 1945. Following the government’s decision to separate domestic and international transmissions, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (RNW) was set up on 15 April 1947. Henk van den Broek was appointed as its first director.
The new foundation was tasked with “putting together and preparing radio programmes to be received outside the borders of the Netherlands” and began broadcasting in Dutch, Indonesian, English and Spanish. Although receiving public funding, Radio Netherlands Worldwide was, and always has been, editorially independent from the Dutch government.
In the early days, RNW had a ‘Greetings Department’ because making phone calls across the globe was difficult and very expensive. The station also broadcast news, current affairs and cultural programmes primarily from a Dutch perspective targeting Dutch nationals living abroad. In 1949, broadcasts began in Arabic and in Afrikaans for South Africa.
The Radio Netherlands Training Centre was set up in 1968 to train radio personnel from developing countries. RNW launched a French department in 1969 and broadcasts in Portuguese to Brazil began in 1974.
In 1991, Radio Netherlands Worldwide was granted a licence to broadcast programmes directly by satellite for radio stations in Latin America. It was the start of extensive collaboration with local radio stations in Latin America. Collaboration with local partners in Africa, Europe and North America was also intensified. An RNW office was opened in West Africa in 1995 to serve listeners in the region via local radio stations.
In 1996, in collaboration with the domestic broadcasting umbrella organisation NOS, it started a Dutch-language television service for viewers in Europe entitled Zomer TV (Summer TV). This was the forerunner of het Beste van Vlaanderen en Nederland (the Best of Flanders and the Netherlands ) which was set up in 1998.
BVN Television is still the Dutch-language public television channel for Dutch and Flemish people abroad, but it parted ways with De Wereldomroep following the Dutch government’s decision in 2011 to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The new slimmed-down RNW began operating in January 2013 with a new mission. It was no longer tasked with plugging information gaps around the world or portraying a realistic image of the Netherlands abroad.
The new RNW was to be a web-based operation promoting free speech and positive social change through projects in countries with a lack of free media. It was no longer governed by the Dutch Media Law and therefore free to develop diverse funding. Robert Zaal was appointed director of the new multimedia company.
RNW changed its name to RNW Media in mid 2015. The organisation focuses exclusively on promoting free speech in countries where freedom of expression is severely restricted. The emphasis lies on reaching young people; adolescents and young adults aged 15-30.
Love Matters and International Justice.
RNW Media is developing distinct brands to reach young people in China and the regions of Latin America, Africa and the Arab world.
In 2013, helanonline.cn, hunasotak.com and eltoque.com went online. For trans-regional projects such as Love Matters, the existing websites were redesigned. New Love Matters sites in Mandarin Chinese and Arabic were launched in early 2014. Justicehub.org and Waza followed later in the year.
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