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Cutbacks: Dutch international channel BVN reduces coverage

Public service broadcasters across Europe are cutting back, and the Dutch are the latest to continue their withdrawal from traditional broadcast platforms.

BVN TV is the global Dutch-language free-to-air television service for the Netherlands and Flanders, providing access to programmes from Dutch channels NPO1, NPO2 and NPO3, plus Flemish channel VRT Één.

As NPO and VRT continue to cut costs, the channel will cease being distributed on the Astra 1L (19.2E) satellite on the 30th September 2018, according to a statement released by the broadcaster this week.

Satellite viewers will need to switch to BVN's Eutelsat Hot Bird signal, providing they have a suitable set-up. Compared to the Astra service, Hot Bird has a wider footprint across Europe, Middle East and North Africa, through which cable and IPTV operators carrying the channel can continue to access the signal. In the medium to long term, BVN is encouraging more users to switch to its online live stream, even axing the satellite dish from its logo earlier this year to signify the shift away from traditional satellite reception.

It has been recently reported the channel would have to save €2m a year in costs. At the moment, reception via satellite outside of Europe is unaffected.

Although not widely accessed by satellite in the UK by residential users, the BVN channel is provided by some hoteliers who offer a range of multi-lingual channels for their guests.

The Dutch abolished their equivalent to the World Service in 2012 when the Hilversum-based Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) was dissolved. RNW was one of the founders of BVN TV.

Wider change in the role of international TV
The role of the channel is evolving in Europe: whereas it launched in 1996 as a summertime TV service for Dutch holiday-makers, reductions of roaming charges and new EU portability rules mean many Dutch households can now take the main Dutch TV channels with them on holiday, to be accessed via streaming apps offered by their cable, satellite or IPTV provider on mobiles and tablets. Dutch satellite subscribers can access the main domestic channels which are encrypted on Astra 3 (Canal Digitaal) and Eutelsat 9B (Joyne). Other international channels face similar issues, given the increasing ease of streaming TV from a user's home country.

BVN (Europe satellite frequency)
Satellite:    Hotbird 13B (13 degrees East)
Frequency:    10815
Polarization: Horizontal
Modulation:   DVB-S
Symbol rate:  27500
FEC:          5/6
V-Pid: 2011 & A-Pid 3011

Online live stream (apps available for Android and iOS)

Public Service Broadcaster cuts
A sample of recent cutbacks across parts of Europe. Cuts are often justified in terms of reducing costs or because users are moving online, or a combination of both.

  • BELGIUM: VRT is to drop free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcasts later this year. All terrestrial TV will be pay TV, but a minority platform in a country where cable and internet access are dominant.
  • FRANCE: France Télévisions is to cut two channels: France 4 and France Ô over the course of the next couple of years.
  • GERMANY: In order to launch new youth service "Funk" in 2016, two channels, zdf.kultur and Eins Plus had to be axed.
  • IRELAND: RTÉ News channel "RTÉ News Now" is facing the axe in the latest set of cuts to affect the broadcaster.
  • UK: BBC Three's TV service was axed in 2016 in the name of cost cutting and move away from linear broadcasts. But the broadcaster has since moved on to preparing to launch another linear channel, the new BBC Scotland channel, in 2019.

Article updated on 11th September 2018, with BVN's revised switch-off. The channel's on-screen message via Astra 1L and the website previously announced the switch-off as taking place on 20th September; this has now changed to the end of the month.