The latest victim

The Dutch version of Sesame Street, Sesamstraat, is about to disappear from Dutch television. It is the latest victim of the culture wars, slowly throttled by the ideological preoccupation with multiculturalism of those managing Dutch public TV (state TV, if you will).

Sesamstraat used to be broadcast in the 18:30 - 19:00 slot, where is enjoyed huge success, averaging 500,000 viewers each night. But the NPS, the broadcaster producing Sesamstraat, wanted to introduce a new multicultural propaganda news show: Dichtbij Nederland (Close to Holland).

To ensure a sizeable audience they picked the very slot that gave Sesamstraat it's biggest reach with the target audience (young children and their parents). And thus it was that Sesamstraat was kicked back to the 17:00 slot, where it languishes with a grand total viewership of around 50,000.

That wouldn't be so bad, were it not for the fact that Dutch public TV is a misbegotten compromise between being fully state-funded and being fully commercial. For a program in Dutch public TV to have any future, revenue from advertisements is a major component. With considerable production costs and no comparable income from advertisers, the 17:00 slot is just a last gasp away from the axe.

In the Volkskrant (NL), one of the main forces behind Sesamstraat, Aart Staartjes, accuses public TV in general and the NPS in particular, of 'smothering the baby in a pillow'. In a follow-up statement in the same paper (NL), the NPS, responsible for both Sesamstraat and Dichtbij Nederland, claims innocence where the slotting is concerned. It puts the blame squarely on the net manager and the board of Public Broadcasters. They in turn have not responded or claim no responsibility for scheduling.

The latter, of course, is especially rich coming (as indeed it does) from the general director of Public Broadcasters, Henk Hagoort. If he cannot wield his influence to secure a somewhat more appropriate slot for the program, then why are we paying his considerable salary? Clearly, if what he says is true, he is not the man for the job.

And so, after a successful run of almost 30 years on Dutch TV (one of the longest running programs, and certainly the longest running children's program), virtually daily, Sesamstraat will disappear. They are about to fall victim to be the joyless ideologists of public TV, who insist on force-feeding the gospel of multiculturalism to the masses.

And if it breaks the hearts of a few little ones, well that's just tough cookies, isn't it? It's all for the greater good, after all.


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