The influx of new talent is a real problem for broadcasters. That's what director Paul Römer of the Dutch public broadcaster NTR said in the MediaMatters radioshow on New Business Radio. Because people stay in place for a long time, it is almost impossible to recruit new talent, says Römer. "For people who are no longer willing or able to keep up with new developments, you may have to look for solutions outside your own company. That's a bit of a taboo, and it's scary. But I think you should be able to do it. And it doesn't happen often enough."
Römer speaks freely as he approaches his farewell as director of the NTR. The staff flow is an almost insoluble problem for many broadcasters, he says. "Our limitation is the budget. I can't hire more people than I have money. There is a huge dynamic at the bottom of the company and we can easily find new people. Only retaining those talents for a long time is very difficult, if not impossible. That is a real problem for the sector.
According to Römer, the solution is not simple. "You have to do a lot of things. The people you have in your company, who didn't grow up in the present time, you have to brush up and inspire. In the field of Human Resources, you have to deliver tailor-made solutions. For people who are no longer willing or able to keep up with new developments, you have to look for solutions to help them with that problem. If you go to work every day and you don't like it, you have a bad life. Maybe there are alternatives, where you both have to give up a bit, where you can do something else.
It's not a question of age, says Römer. "When you're 60, it doesn't mean you can't keep up. In fact, I really have an incredible number of vital people working for the NTR, who are 60 and I hope they will never retire. But there are also 45 years old of which I think: is it not time to do something else? It has to do with your energy, with your mentality and also with your will to keep developing yourself. Lifelong learning, you really have to do that. That is what the present time demands."
Römer has been asked to join the Industry Table, where media CEOs talk about opportunities to work together. He is happy with these kinds of initiatives. "Cooperation is necessary. If you all stay on your own island, not much happens. You have to build bridges. At the same time, you have to be realistic. You don't all have the same interest in a local market like the Netherlands. We have to talk to each other and find out where we can work together. But you also have to find out where this is not possible and where we each go our own way.
"Cooperation has never made anyone any worse," explains Römer. "But you have to do that with parties that both have an equal interest. And your goal must be clear. If Google or Facebook are really are your competitors on content you are lost, because these are companies that have hundreds of billions to spend. If you have to compete against them, you're already dead in advance.
"So you shouldn't see it like that. Of course, the landscape has changed. There are players who bring something that wasn't there before. And what space does that leave us, as local players? What can we set against that? We understand the Dutch culture. We can create content that is so relevant that the Dutchman likes to come to you because you have something to offer him. You should indeed do that together with other parties. Then you can create a place in the market where the Googles and the YouTube tubes can neither arrive nor really be interested in. All those local European markets are far too complex for them.
Listen to the complete interview below.
MediaMatters can be listened to live on New Business Radio every first Thursday of the month between 16:00 and 17:00 hours. Bert Kok and Rick van Dijk talk about innovation in the media in the program. After the broadcast, the show will be available as a podcast on Spotify, iTunes and Soundcloud.