Former VPRO Director Lennart van der Meulen led the public broadcaster into brighter times

Former VPRO Director Lennart van der Meulen led the public broadcaster into brighter times

Former VPRO Director Lennart van der Meulen died of cancer last Monday at the age of 65. He led public broadcasting for fourteen years, from difficult times of cutbacks and mergers to brighter times when the straight appearance of broadcasters was considered more important again.

Van der Meulen (Delft, 1959) started in The Hague in 1986. First as a parliamentary staffer for D66, then as a campaign leader for the Progressive Liberals and as political advisor to Secretary of State Ad Noyes (Culture, D66). In 1997, he moved to Hilversum, first as a supervisor at the Dutch Media Authority, then as coordinator of the Nederland 3 and Nederland 2 channel networks.

In 2009 he started as VPRO. It was a difficult time right away, when the right of a small, poorly monitored broadcaster like the VPRO was under discussion. Public broadcasters were forced to cut 250 million euros and received an urgent desire from The Hague to merge. VPRO has chosen to remain independent, with a thin core, but a broader profile.

Under Hilversum’s new star, where the central board of non-profits was given more power, the VPRO was able to function well. Where viewing personalities and target group were taboo words within elite, inward-looking broadcasters, the VPRO under van der Meulen began preparing programs for the ‘creative class’. The travel series in particular scored well. He said in September in devotion: “VPRO is no longer a fly, but the backbone of public broadcasting.” His own initiative was to found Net in Nederland, a video platform for new residents.

At the VPRO Summer Party 2023, Van der Meulen listed the following as core values ​​of VPRO: “The intelligence and courage to speak out. The madness and feeling to be able to make it happen. The love of the profession and the depth you have to get from it every time. All of those programs emerge from Our lab is simple: it’s all human work and we’re probably the best at it.

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Van der Meulen leaves behind a wife and two sons.

Correction (June 11, 2024): An earlier version of this article stated that Van der Meulen died on Thursday. It had to be Monday. Now that has been modified.

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