Do Dutch talk shows display political colour?

Media & Journalism students research political guests in Dutch talk shows for NRC Handelsblad
Studio of Op1
Op1, NPO

How influential are talk shows in forming political opinions? Students from the Media & Journalism Master's programme at Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication and the Science Communication & Society Master's programme at Leiden University have conducted research into the political guests who appear on Dutch talk shows. The students recently presented the results of their research, which was followed by a published article in NRC Handelsblad.

The research shows that Op1 is the most politically-minded talk show. For Op1, the share of invited political guests was 13%, compared to 10% for Jinek and 7.5% for de Vooravond. In addition, the type of political guests differs significantly by broadcaster. For instance, an overrepresentation of progressive and left-wing politicians can be seen at broadcaster BNNVARA, where two-thirds of Hague politicians who joined were from D66, PvdA, Groenlinks or SP. This is mainly seen in various 19:00 talk shows such as DWDD, Vooravond, and Khalid & Sophie, but also Op1 when broadcasted by BNNVARA.

In fact, Op1 is broadcasted by several NPO broadcasters. BNNVARA had the centre of gravity with two broadcasts a week until autumn 2021; this was later transferred to WNL. Certainly this broadcaster manages to put a visible political stamp on the broadcasts: 31% of the invited guests were politicians on behalf of the VVD, compared to a 22% share from the CDA. In addition, CDA and ChristenUnie are overrepresented on EO evenings, and Omroep Max shows a preference for 50-plussers. With BNNVARA stopping broadcasting Op1, its progressive sound will partly disappear.

The students based their research on data collected since the launch of Op1 in 2020. Over the past six months, the students learnt quantitative research methods through the statistics programme R under the guidance of dr. Nel Ruigrok. They got to put their newly-learned skills into practice when they analysed data for NRC. The students who conducted the research are Ilse van Knegsel, Lars Beelen, Dana Bouwknegt, Anne Kluijtmans, Lotte Keuzenkamp and Janine Zappeij from ESHCC and Simon van de Reep and Max Janssen from Leiden University.

With this research, the students made an important contribution to a distinctive article in NRC, during the turbulent period in the Dutch talk show landscape. Curious to find out more? Read the NRC article here (in Dutch).

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