New tech challenges in Spakenburg TV
The fight of the Dutch people to conquer land to the sea causes sometimes collateral damage. This is the case of Spakenburg, a tiny town 50 kilometres east of Amsterdam whose inhabitants used to earn their living from the Zuyderzee. For centuries, Spakenburg fishermen exploited the shoals of fish that thrived in the rich and shallow waters. But in 1931 the dam to enclose the Zuyderzee was completed and the fishing town was suddenly thrown 100 kilometers inland. It was not the end of the fishing tradition since Spakenburg converted itself in a centre of distribution of fish. Even today some inhabitants own fishing boats operating from Danish harbours.
Lokale Omroep Spakenburg (LOS)
This elan of surmounting the challenges using tenacity and imagination is what inspires Lokale Omroep Spakenburg (LOS), the local TV station of Spakenburg. It all started thirty years ago nearly to the day when in April 1991 some volunteers set up a local radio station. Shortly after a amateur group of videomakers contacted them and offered to provide material enough to feed a TV station. The endeavour was extremely successful and very soon more than 100 people devoted their free time to entertain a always growing audience.
At the beginning of the 2000s Spakenburg TV suffered its first challenge with a decline of the audience and the farewell of many volunteers, warned out for ten years of hard work and dashed by the apparently impossible task of competing with the much superior production means of the commercial channels. The answer was to increase the coverage of local news by moving teams out of the studios to shot sports, social acts and even religious events. This emphasis in the life of the town drove Spakenburg TV to a second cycle of success.
Spakenburg TV today
Today Spakenburg TV is facing another challenge. Facebook, Instagram, Internet, TikTok, etc… are the many names of the new game that is changing the landscape of broadcast. Wouter Koelewijn, Chief of Technological Innovation and one the original founders, explains undaunted how to start a third cycle of success. “Not only the means of consuming video have changed, also the format. We need to create shorter material and have a more dynamic playlist to cope with the shorter span of attention of the audience”. But added to this change in style, there is also a need to optimize resources and make the most of the creativity of the volunteers.
“The acquisition of VectorBox is part of this process. We need to have a professional look and a fully reliable playout to not spend time in the tasks that can be done automatically”. But the goal of Spakenburg TV is not to merely resist the tide of Internet, the goal is to use this third cycle to change the scale. “We are in the process of creating a conglomerate of local TVs that will increase the dimension of our operations and start a virtuous cycle of more audience, more production means, more audience… We can go from the current 5 000 households to 50 000 in some years”.