The Dutch Media Authority announced that the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (SMON) has received the new broadcasting permit for Islam and may begin broadcasting in September 2010.
The decision follows several months of conflict among Islamic broadcasters in the Netherlands, who operate during the percentage of time set aside for religious groups in Dutch media. Internal divisions between previous broadcasters NMO and NIO led to their dissolution.
The Dutch Media Authority has been reviewing applications for the replacement since October 2009, choosing SMON over the Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (SMO) and Joint Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (VMO)
One of the organizations hoping to broadcast on Dutch radio and television during programming devoted to Islam recognizes the Ahmadiyya sect as a major current in Islam.
The Ahmadiyya sect, popular among many Dutch of Surinamese origin in the Netherlands, is not recognised as Islamic by the main institutions of orthodox Islam.
SMO, one of five broadcasters who applied for the Islamic airtime, expresses in an email leaked this week its willingness to share its hoped-for broadcasting licence with another company, provided that it too recognises Ahmadiyya.
The former director of the Netherlands Muslim Broadcaster (NMO), Frank Williams, has been arrested for accepting bribes of at least 600.000 Euros. His son, daughter-in-law, and a film producer have also been arrested. The four suspects were arrested in a criminal investigation of misuse of the broadcasting funds of the NMO, one of the public broadcasters subsidized by the government, NIS reports. The finance ministry announced that Williams is suspected of “forgery, defrauding the income tax service and taking bribes as director of the NMO”.
Two Muslim broadcasting organizations will cease operation this year. The Dutch Muslim Broadcaster (NMO) and the Dutch Islamic Broadcasting (NIO) companies have not requested a renewal of their public broadcasting license for the next five-year period.
The two broadcasters decided not to renew their licenses following multiple conflicts within Islamic Broadcasting Foundation Care, the umbrella organization set up specifically to mediate between them, Abderrahman Farsi from NMO told Radio Netherlands. The broadcasters will stop operation in August 2010.
Dutch public broadcasting is organized on the principle of representation, with broadcasting associations being allotted airtime on public channels commensurate with their membership. Each broadcasting company represents a significant section of society. The Islamic broadcasters operate during a small percentage of airtime set aside for associations representing religious groups.
The Dutch media authority has received requests by five other Islamic organizations who want to take the place of NMO and NIO, including Muslim Broadcasting Foundation (Stichting Moslimomroep), Stichting Moslim Omroep Nederland, Stichting Academica Islamica/OUMA, Nederlandse Islamitische Media and Stichting Samenwerkende Islamitische Koepel.