Aruba is a small Island in the southern Caribbean sea, off the coast of Venezuela. Together with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten, Aruba is one of the four countries that form
the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, it also forms a group referred to as the ABC Islands.

In 1986 Aruba obtained its autonomy "Status Aparte" from the Dutch Kingdom. It has full autonomy except for matters of national defence, foreign affairs and the Supreme Court, which are managed by the Dutch government. (UNHCR Refworld 2010). Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990. (CIA The World Factbook 2011)

Language and New Identity

The official language in Aruba is Dutch, but the most commonly used language is Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialec),a unique language only used on ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). It is regularly heard and used on the streets informally. Other languages spoken are Spanish and English. When the Europeans and West Africans arrived in the New World, Papiamento was formed. It has only been 16 years since Papiamento was considered one of Aruba's native languages. Like any other language, it is seen to unite people of all races, however, locals have strong feelings regarding immigrants, excluding tourists, who should know and speak the language in order to fit in to their society. Immigrants who do not are generally resented by the general public as they are seen to have not made an effort in learning the language (Sanchez, T 2011). This re-ehphasises their strong and pro-Aruban culture.
The Aruban flag
The Aruban flag

The increase of mass media in the native language helped to establish Papiamento as the dominant language spoken in the multilingual state. This was seen to have resulted from the emerging new national identity after the revolution in 1969 that affected and distressed Curaçao. In addition, it is also seen to illustrate Aruban's acceptance of other cultures as it is a large merge or combination of many other languages. As a result of this, the dependence upon the Netherlands by the mass media declined. Some newspapers in the islands were no longer being edited by a Dutch journalist’s assistance. English and Spanish are widely spoken by other natives and are considered to be international languages. Although English is not one of the official languages of Aruba, due to an influx of American tourists, this language is also very commonly spoken in Aruba. They speak in a strong West Indian or French Creole accent that is sometimes difficult for foreigners to understand. (Segisys 2011)

In the 1990s, approximately 80 to 90 percent of citizens and residents in the three ABC islands spoke Papiamento. In the early 20th century, Aruba experienced a flourish of immigration from the Caribbean area to work in the oil refinery sector. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. This had the effect of decreasing the percentage of speakers to approximately 70 to 80 percent, despite the increase in the total number of speakers. Tourism, an influx of immigration and mass media has helped to create a new national identity.

Lessons in schools are officially conducted in Dutch. Hhowever, teachers might switch to Papiamento in order to explain difficult terms and concepts better to students. In the other islands, language courses for Papiamento have been recently introduced in secondary schools. Students study and learn Papiamento as well as read publications and literature. Official government communications are also produced in Dutch, nevertheless, they may converse verbally in Papiamento.(Sanchez, T, 2011)

It is important to note that because the native language of Papiamento is only used on the three ABC islands, it creates the costly problem of translating foreign media content and limits the use of exchanging radio, television and newspaper content. (Lent 1981).

A Brief History

A small island in the Caribbean with poor infrastructure and equipment, Aruba relied heavily on the content and distribution of news and other media content from the other islands of the Netherland Antilles, in particular Curacao. Although in 1986 Aruba gained autonomy from the Netherland Antilles, its Dutch citizenship and ties to the other Dutch Antilles islands undoubtedly played a major role in setting the foundations of media and communications systems. Moreover, in the decades before its independence, we can see some of the developments that helped to move the Aruban media industry away from Dutch controlled media and establish local and regional news. Most importantly, the change of media control and promotion of the native language played an enormous role in forging a new national identity.

In the early 1970s individual press clubs were formed in Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Windward Islands. These clubs were instrumental in sponsoring a yearly Antillean Press Congress and establishing a Code of Honour. In the late 1970s, they also lobbied for less expensive telex and telephone rates, radio connections and duty-free printing supplies and tapes. They also tackled issues of air freight costs which was used by Districo, a joint distribution company between the islands to distribute the four afternoon dailes published in Curacao. The dailes would served to portray an Antillean identity and character. They have been very active in raising the political and media awareness of the public. (Lent 1981)

Map of Aruba
Map of Aruba

A key organisation that changed the profession of the media industry was the Stichting Grafische Communicate (Foundation of Graphic Communication) directed by Roger Snow. Roger Snow believed that there was very little educational and cultural fare in the dailes and so subsided each newspaper if they devoted at least four pages to education and culture. SGC also tried to promote critical thinking about the press and journalism in the classroom
s and so published a school-orientated booklet called De Krant op School.

Newspaper owners were organised into the Nederlands Antilles Verenigde Dagbladpers on Curacao and the Gremio Professional di Periodistenan Arubano on Aruba (Lent 1981). The Gremio Professional di Periodistenan Arubano on Aruba was influential in changing governmental press conferences after they boycotted several government press conferences that only gave them two hours notice. The authorities extended the notice to 24 hours. Here we can see the political influences of Aruba.

In 1980 the Minister of Cutlure of the Netherlands Antilles, Jacques Veeris, headed changes to the restructuring of television programming away from Dutch influence and control. He held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Telecuraco, the Dutch sponsporing foundation and a Dutch teleison company. (Lent 1981) The negotiations ensured that Antilleans would have the majority of the decision-making power and that Dutch foundation money should be sent to Aruba and Curaco for the production of local shows.

In 1980, one of the most significant attempts at government action regarding the press was made in the proposal of a Media Council. The 11 member council would advise Netherland Antilles government on mass-media affairs. Membership would include three persons from Antillean Television Corporation, Antillean Broadcasting Association and daily press association; three chosen from press; four chosen from island territories and one to represent the government. (Lent 1981) The council would ensure that the media could have input in government media policy.

Government and Regulation

The government is based on Dutch traditions, which mirrors the French Civil Code with influences from Roman Law and traditional Dutch customary law. The Dutch monarch serves as the head of state through a local Governor General and the Prime Minister is appointed by the Staten with the Staten being elected by a popular vote.( Press Reference 2011)

Dutch Copyright Law:
An Aruban man

Dutch copyright law (called Auteursrecht) gives exclusive rights to the author of a work of literature, science or art. It was originally intended to cover books, but today it covers to many other materials including films, recorded music and art (Castendyk et al,2008,p284). Auteursretcht includes exclusive publishing rights and allows the author to make and sell copies of their work. It also has the exclusive right to make products derived from the coprighted work to publicly display the work (or grant permission to do so). This is normally recorded in a license contract between someone who has created a copyrighted work and someone who wishes to use that work (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284). Unlike patents, which gives monopolierecht ("monopoly right") on inventions, copyrights only apply to specific creations of one or more ideas. Copyrights, however, can be bought and sold. Generally, the owner of a copy of a copyrighted product can do with the copy as they wish, even without actual ownership of the copyright, providing no copies are made and the product is not modified (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284). Those who have modified copies from the copyright holder are also bound by these limitations. There are some limits on what the owner of a copy can do with it (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284). For example, public displays of the creative work are regarded as a form of copying. The creator of the work must have used some creativity or a certian creative decision must have been made. Copyright lasts for a finite time, specifically 70 years after the author dies. When a copyright expires the work enters the public domain (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284).
In theory, all works communicated to the public by or on behalf of the public authorities (government) are not copyright protected in the Netherlands, unless the copyright has been reserved explicitly. This can occur either in a general manner by law, decree or ordinance, or in a specific case by a notice on the work itself or at the communication to the public (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284).

Copyright Laws differ between countries. However there are several international treaties regarding copyright, they include:
  • The Berne Convention, 1886
  • The Universal Copyright Convention, 1952
  • The WIPO Copyright Treaty, 1996
  • The WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, 1996
  • The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property

The Dutch Media Act and Regulations:
The Dutch Media Act previously regulated only audiovisual services and State aid for printed press. Libraries, cinemas and booksellers were not affected as well as the internet (Hins,2010,p.469). The Media Act offers a public service where high quality programmes, in traditional broadcasting as well as new electronic services. These participants in the public media service are licensed by the government, receive financial aid and their activities are regulated. However, private media free market principles exist (Hins,2010p.469). Previously, the Media Act did not regulate private electronic media because of the high quality programmes offered by the public media service. However, amendments to the Act under Media Act 2008 has extended websites, digital channels and services over mobile platforms into the public broadcasting sphere along with traditional forms like television and radio. The amendments also abolished program requirements. Previously, broadcasters were required to meet statutory levels. For example, 25% of their programs had to be devoted to arts and culture. Under the changes, public broadcasters would only have to submit a performance agreement to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science once every five years (Government of the Netherlands 2011). This had caused an increase in the range of information and quality of culture on digital channels and internet sites. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) provides a digital newsletter that subscribers are kept informed about the cultural and media policy. The newsletter is published 10 times a year (monthly except July and August) and via e-mail. (Government of the Netherlands 2011)

The Dutch Media Authority, called the 'Coomissariaat voor de Media', enforces the rules which comprise the Dutch Media Act as well as the regulations based on this act, such as the Media Decree (Hins,2010,p.469). This is achieved through providing information and careful supervision, where fairness and consistency are the Commissariaat's basic principles in implementing the Media Act in both a private and commercial sphere. The Commissariaat was founded on January 1st 1988, coinciding with the date of the commencement of the Dutch Media Act. The Commissariaat is an independent administrative body situated in Hilversum (Castendyk et al,2008,p.284).

The Temporary Act on Media Concentration and Ownerships:
This Act has been in force since 2007 and contains specific rules - respecting general competition law - for the markets in radio, television and newspapers and is due to expire on 1 January 2012 (Hins,2010,p.469).

The Temporary Act on Media Concentrations has the following characteristics:
  • No previous cross ownership limitations exist.
  • Media concentrations are banned that are assumed to endanger the 'plurality of opinion'. A media conglomerate cannot have a market share over 90% in the combined user markets - 300% - for radio, newspapers and television (Hins,2010,p.469).
  • The market share of a newspaper is calculated based on its circulation. The market shares pertaining to radio and television are defined by measuring the listening and viewing time respectively. The general authority of competition, the Nederlandse Mededingingsautoriteit (NMa), prevents media concentrations that break the law. The specialised media watchdog Commissariaat voor de Media (CvdM) finds the necessary data to advise the NMa in their decisions (Hins,2010,p.469).
  • The CvdM is charges with the task to watch developments in the national and international media markets and their consequences for plurality and independence. The CdvM does not limit its watch to radio, television and newspapers, it also looks at other media outlets such as press agencies, search engines or social network services. The findings are published in a yearly report called the 'Media Monitor' (Hins,2010,p.469).


Aruba country code: +297
The market for telecommunication has been liberalized in Aruba due to the 'Status Aparte' that occurred during 1986 in the Dutch Kingdom. Before this occured, all international telecommunications had gone through Curacao, whose purpose was to serve telephone and telegraphs (Setar 2011). There are several providers of telecommunication providing solutions for fixed line, mobile, internet and data. Aruba has two main telecommunication companies - SETAR and Digicel.
SETAR N.V claims to be principal telecommunication company on the Aruba. The company began as 'Telecommunications Company' which was owned by the government, but in 2003 it became an incorporated company. Its aim is to connect Aruba to the rest of the world and has strong focus on its customer service. (Setar 2011).
Digicel was established nine years ago. The company boasts 11.5 million customers spanning over its 32 markets worldwide and it is incorporated in Bermuda and its markets. It is a lead sponsor of a variety of sporting teams and also hosts a number or community based vetures across its markets.(Digicel group 2011)
Aruba is the landing site for the PAN-AM submarine telecommunications cable system that extends from the US virgin Islands through to Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and the west coast of south America. It is connected with the world fiber optic network (Setar 2011).


Programs which were broadcasted involved a majority of Caribbean music and newspapers reported more local news which emphasizes their closed community. This can be shown through locally drawn comic strips published in newspapers. Around the 1980s, there was a lot of discussion regarding the heavy reliance of regional news that is still currently placed on the Dutch agency, ANP. As a result of this, journalism as a profession was promoted and encouraged during the decade by the establishment of clubs, associations and the SGC which abbreviates, Stiching Grafische Communicatie, in English, Foundation of Graphic Communication, by composing and committing to a code of honour. Furthermore, along with a more enthusiastic awareness of the constructive roles of mass media by government as well as the community as whole, broadcasting is developing and expanding quickly in Aruba. There has been an observed shift away from traditional media to new media forms, particularly the rapid growth and utilization of social media sites, which is in line with the worldwide trend.


There are three commercial television stations available on the island, which are Telearuba, ATV/NBC and CANAL22. Telearuba was the first Aruban national television channel. It was started as a relay station in 1963, transmitting content from Tele-Curacao, a channel established in 1960 by the Dutch Antilles central government. Most of the content consisted of taped television shoes from the United States and local news from the ABC Islands (Telecuracao 2011) .After Telearuba was established, it started producing local programmes and broadcasting Latin American and North American content including soap operas and movies (Telearuba 2011), which were instrumental in establishing the diverse culture and forming a sense of identity in Aruba.

The Aruba Broadcasting Company N.V. was formed in the 1990s as a response to the evident lack of of progress in the television broadcasting field as compared to that of print media and radio. The channel is licensed by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) of America. (Aruba Broadcasting Company N.V 2011)
The successful implementation of the SETAR internet infrastructure has resulted in increasing the availability of television programs online. All of the local television companies have livestreaming widgets on their websites, which can be viewed for free. Click here to view CANAL 22 Livestream

Foreign channels can be accessed with a cable tv subscription.(CIA The World Factbook 2011) from SETAR. Among the foreign channels available are CNN, ESPN, BBC World News, Venevision (Spanish), TV Colombia and public television channels from the Netherlands, including Netherland 1, Netherland 2, and Netherland 3. (Setar 2011)


As stated under Dutch law, freedom of communication is observed in Aruba. The major newspapers in Aruba include Diario Aruba, Bon Dia Aruba, and Aruba Today (the English version of Bon Dia Aruba). Most publications in Aruba cover news of local manner such as local issues, sports, jobs and public and community events. Aruba Today is particularly popular with tourists, as it is published in English. (Aruba Tourism Authority 2011)

It is interesting to note that there are no publication companies which publish newspapers in Dutch on the island. However, there are three Dutch language newspapers are widely available in Aruba from the other ABC islands. These newspapers are called Amigoe, Algemeen Dagblad and DeCuracaosche Courant. These newspapers are available online as well as a daily and weekly print.

Published in
Regional (ABC Islands)
(available in English online)
external image amigoe.jpg
Diario Aruba

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Bon Dia Aruba

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Aruba Today

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AWE Mainta


Other than newspaper publications, the radio is seen to be the most popular medium in Aruba. There are two AM and sixteen FM radio stations. There are approximately 50, 000 radios on the island (CIA The World Factbook 2011). Radio broadcasts are also available online. Click here to view and listen to the radio stations.
Mega 88 FM
88.1 FM
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Voz di Aruba (Canal 90)
89.9 FM
Caliente 90.7
90.7 FM
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Latina Tu FM
92.3 FM
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Radio Victoria
93.1 FM

Hit FM
94.1 FM
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Top FM
95.1 FM
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Magic 96.5 FM
96.5 FM
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Easy FM
97.9 FM
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Radio Carina
97.9 FM
Cool FM
98.9 FM
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Hits 100 FM
100.9 FM
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Blizz 101.7
101.7 FM
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Vision Studio FM
105.3 FM
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Radio Kelkboom
106.7 FM
external image Aruba-Radio-Kelkboom-1067-FM.gif
107.5 FM
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(Tune in, 2011)

New Media Forms

Most publications have Facebook and Twitter pages to disseminate up-to-the-minute news (Amigoe, Diario Aruba, AWE24). Social media is widely used in Aruba. is the official tourism site for Aruba. Tourism forms a significant part of the economy of Aruba. The website is used to disseminate tourism-specific information like accommodation, places of interest, etc. It also acts as a social media site, much like Facebook, where travellers can share their experiences and locals can give recommendations. The site also provides promotional opportunities for local tourism-related businesses like advertising. Restaurants, hotels and travel agencies utilize the website by posting deals and offers. The Aruba Tourism Authority oversees the webpage and provides the information posted is relevant and certifiable. (Aruba Tourism Authority 2011)

Prominent media figures

  • Jossy Mansur, managing editor of Diario Aruba. The Mansur family are a powerful Aruban business family involved in the manufacturing of cigarettes and international trade. They own their own bank, the Interbank and have sponsored the best local baseball team as well as one of the political parties. Several members of the Mansur family have been linked to organized crime including money laundering and drug trafficking (Blickman, T 1997). Jossy Mansur has been involved in various media publications, including two English-Papiamento dictionaries and the history of Aruba. He currently writes weekly editorials for Diario Aruba (Diario Online 2011). His columns have been highly critical of the government. (Burrough, B 2006)
  • Fredrik Hendrik (Henry) Habibe, poet, writes in Papiamento and is also a literary analyst. He has written reviews in newspapers, Amigoe and Beurs- en Nieuwsberichten from 1986 to 1997. (Beek, M 2008) As he has been writing in the newspaper for approximately a decade, it is evident that Habibe has some influence on the general public.
  • Julia Renfro, editor of Aruba Today News Magazine. Along with Jossy Mansur, American-born Julia was highly involved in the Natalee Holloway case that rocked the Aruban nation. (Burrough, B 2006)


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Aruba Broadcasting Company N.V 2011, Accessed 13 August 2011

Aruba Today 2011, Accessed 17 August 2011

Aruba Tourism Authority 2011, Accessed 16 August 2011

AWE Mainta 2011, Accessed 17 August 2011

Beek, M, 2008, Henry Habibe, Accessed 17 August 2011

Blickman, T 1997, TNI Crime and Globalization Project, Accessed 16 August 2011
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Castendyk, O, Dommering E.J & Scheuer, A, 2008, 'European Media Law', Kluwer International. p.284

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Diario Online 2011, Accessed 14 August 2011

Digicel group 2011, Accessed 13 August 2011
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Segisys 2011, Accessed 15 August 2011
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Setar 2011, Accessed 16 August 2011
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Telearuba 2011, Accessed 10 August 2011
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Telecuracao 2011, Accessed 10 August 2011
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Tune In 2011, Accessed 16 August 2011

UNHCR Refworld 2011, Core Document Aruba, Accessed 16 August 2011
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