Free speech (and vision) endangered, 
Kleurnet off the air

The local Amsterdam TV channel Kleurnet, an independent and very outspoken alternative channel  has disappeared (sep 1, 2001) due to government meddling. The powers that be, they basically don't want independent channels and favour govenrment-owned local channels.
The disappearance of Kleurnet  (its name means colornet and caters for colorful and colored Amsterdam, a city with a 35% colored minority population) is  a severe attack on free speech and robs Amsterdam of a platform where new age, vedic, muslim, osho, american indian, psychedelic, pagan, anti-computer, freedom of speech, squatter and numerous other movements had their home.
This channel for free expression now has died a victim of the pre-crisis (or are we already in deep shit) that is coming down. (note sept 11, happened soon after!)
The system feels threatened and its first response is to silence its critics.



Luc Sala, an Amsterdam media entrepreneur, opposed the sale of the local cable network to A2000 in 1995 by organising a referendum initiative. Don’t sell the digital umbilical chord, was his motto, warning against a monopoly on what would develop into a digital backbone, he feared at that time. This referendum initiative, althoud adequately supported by signatures etc. was deemed (voted) “non-referendabel” by the city council, but was , as a negotiation piece, used to get a 10% share in whatever content or bandwidth for an amount of 7 million in compensationin the purchase price) for public use (and was never used due to neglicence by the local wethouders and Salto). This deal was negotiated by Eberhard van der Laan, then PvdA fraktieleider.

Luc Sala was very disappointed and set out to prove his point, that local television was essential for local democracy and would be a major factor in small scale media development. He started working with Mokum TV on the Salto channels in 1995 and 1996, with famous programs “busje komt zo” showing how he was attacked by city personnel in trying to do some investigative reporting about Parkeerbeheer. In early 1997 he applied for a commercial license for his own channel, using a clause in the Media-Wet allowing not only corporations or foundations, but “natural” people to apply for such a license, with far less red tape. He as the first and so far the only one allowed such a “personal” license. He asked the APR for a slot, but none was available, but a compromise was found, as the APR kind of liked the idea of an independent channel and wanted to give Luc Sala with was then called Myster Media a chance. The compromise turned out to be a very late slot, dirst on BBC1, from 04-06 hours in the morning, then later on A2 Salto after Salto closed and with 30 minutes blank image, from 02.00 till 04.00 in the moring, also an absurd slot. A year later, the 98-99 season, still airing as Myster, the Commissariaat for the Media opposed the combination of a commercial licensee, what Sala has and was, with the public broadcast license of Salto, using the Amsterdam city license for 3 channels including AT5. A new slot was found, at the RTL5 channel, from 16-18.00 hours every day. A format with fixed programs every day evolved, with like Orka KinderTV on Wednesday, made by Catharina Ooijens, spiritual programs on Tuesday and local politics on Monday.

In 1998 Luc Sala set up a foundation called Kleurnet and applied (and received) for a broadcasting and got permission for a separate slot for the 1999-2000 season. With UPC (the successor of A2000) a deal was made and a full channel operated. This became, for 2 years, a very open and multifaceted channel, with 3 hours of new programming daily, revolving for 21 hours, so every program was repeated 7 times. Volunteer and a few paid assistants like Sanne Couprie, Amber de Vries, Catharina Ooijens en Maurice Hermans actually shot and produced those 3 hours every day, mostly in the Singel 459 Myster studio, but with lots of material for outside shoots, including travel material from Luc Sala and his family, friends. The editing was mostly done by Luc Sala himself, often in the nightly hours and 180 minute tapes were daily delivered to playout units at the UPC premises in West. The volunteers were organised in groups, some 15 separate mini-production units, paid a nominal 50 guilders per hour produced program (for tea, coffee, telephone). The total budget for Kleurnet was, with a production of some 1000 hours of new material per year, an astounishing low 500.000 guilders including rent and UPC fee, but no salary for Luc Sala.

Financial exploitation was by Sala Communications, on a contract basis with the Kleurnet foundation. After the first year the APR decided not to extend the permission (Kabelplan), but due to discussions about the inclusion of CNN the operator UPC decided to allow another year. In 2001 the APR again decide not to include Kleurnet in the Kabelplan, a decision without appeal possibility. Luc Sala appealed at the Commissariaat for the Media, but lost the case. The APR commission, at that time clearly of a very biased composition with mostly civil servants as members, turned down Kleurnet, guided by a chairman who by then was paid for by the Amsterdam B&W executive commission, quite unusual. The argument by APR was that Kleurnet wasn’t sufficient multicultural. This was obviously quite absurd, as Kleurnet operated as a truly multicultural station, with slots for etnic minorities, other cultures, by 2001 it was clear it was going to be a real factor in the media landscape. September 1, 2001 Kleurnet disappeared. Luc Sala continued making programs with Razo for Salto airing, with a weekly column until summer 2006. In 2007 he started http://www.Mindlift.TV, an internet operation distributing the Kleurnet archives, by that time a  selection of digitized material out of some 3000 hours of programming, via channels like YouTube.