Netherlands 4003
Photo by: nicky39


Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of the Netherlands
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 15,981,472
Language(s): Dutch
Literacy rate: 99.0%
Area: 41,526 sq km
GDP: 364,766 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 35
Total Circulation: 4,443,000
Circulation per 1,000: 346
Number of Nondaily Newspapers: 49
Total Circulation: 317,000
Circulation per 1,000: 25
Newspaper Consumption(minutes per day): 39
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 1,771 (Euro millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 48.40
Number of Television Stations: 21


Number of Television Sets: 8,100,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 506.8
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 150
Number of Cable Subscribers: 6,166,020
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 387.8
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 330,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 20.6
Number of Radio Stations: 65
Number of Radio Receivers: 15,300,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 957.4
Number of Individuals with Computers: 6,300,000
Computers per 1,000: 394.2
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 3,900,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 244.0

Background & General Characteristics

Media History

Newspapers were introduced in this part of Europe in the early seventeenth century, a few decades after the northern provinces of the Low Countries obtained their independence from Spain in 1579 by the Union of Utrecht and became the Republic of the United Netherlands. While not qualifying as the birthplace of the printed newspaper in Europe, several towns in the Netherlands became important international newspaper centers in the early 1600s and retained this role for more than a century. A number of French language newspapers, which became known collectively as La Gazette de Hollande , were published in Leyden, The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, in a free-press environment. French was the most widespread language of politics in the seventeenth century, and Dutch publishers supplied this international market with newspapers that many of their reading public believed to originate in France (Hatin 6). The earliest of these international gazettes were the Tydinghen uyt Verscheyde Quartieren (1618-1670) and the Courante uyt Italien ende Duytschland (1618-1670), both published in Amsterdam and reporting tydinghen (tidings) from abroad. The Dutch word for newspaper, krant , is derived from the French courant (current) and the Spanish corantos , both of which mean "current" (as in current tidings).

Numerous additional gazettes were founded in Dutch cities in the following decades. The Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroit , an international gazette better known as La Gazette de Leyde , was published in Leiden since 1680, and La Gazette d'Amsterdam (also published under other titles such as Nouvelles d'Amsterdam ) entered the scene in 1688, the Gazette de Rotterdam was founded in 1695, and La Gazette de La Haye appeared for nearly a half century (1744-1790). Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, several Dutch-language gazettes were also published throughout the northern part of the Low Countries, with titles including the Amsterdamsche Courant (circa 1670), the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant (published in Haarlem, beginning in 1659), and the Ordinaire Leydsche Courant (1686).

Although licensing requirements for newspaper publishers were installed as a vehicle for placing them under the control of local city governments from the beginning of the eighteenth century, competition between the cities and the influence of the liberal merchant class ensured a de facto free press. Local Dutch authorities were not concerned about the many journals that were published in the relatively tolerant environment of their cities by refugees from religious intolerance elsewhere in Europe. An independent Dutch newspaper press continued to develop in the eighteenth century, and many additional daily newspapers flourished, including the Gravenhaegsche Cou-rant in The Hague, the Rotterdamsche Courant , the Utrechtsche Courant , the Leeuwarder Courant , and the Oprechte Groninger Courant .

The constitution enacted in 1798 by the repressive political regime following the French Revolution, which remained in force for 50 years, severely curtailed freedom of the press, since it literally stated that criticism of the government was equivalent to "an offense against freedom of the press." Ironically, it was during this repressive period, in 1830, that the first Dutch daily newspaper was published. After enactment of a new and liberal constitution in 1848, which prohibited all forms of censorship, publication of daily newspapers and other periodicals rose rapidly to more than 150 different publications. In the second half of the nineteenth century, further technological progress in mechanical writing and newspaper production increasingly facilitated production of inexpensive editions of daily papers, exemplified by Het Nieuws van den Dag (The Daily News), founded in 1869. Further, journalism and newspaper production in the Netherlands, as in other countries, was given a major boost by the introduction of the typewriter and its successors.

The large numbers of newspapers were published under editorial policies that have become known under the term "pillarization" ( Verzuiling ). Newspapers reflected

the combined religious and political views of their editorship, and this remained characteristic for Dutch newspapers until World War II. The main religious tendencies of Roman Catholic and Calvinist-Protestant were combined with a particular political conviction. The Dutch press in the East Indies also played a role in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Contrary to the Gazettes de Hollande , which had been a vehicle to promote nationalist views of outside groups in the previous century, it did not foster nationalist sentiment. The editors of the various newspapers, even those published in the Malay and Javanese languages, steered clear of violations of Dutch press laws, which had been amended in 1856 to ensure the public order but were used to suppress criticism of the government (Hagen).

The invasion of the traditionally neutral Netherlands by Germany in World War II created upheaval in the Dutch newspaper world. A few papers stopped publication altogether, while others collaborated with the Nazi regime—under effective takeovers by Nazi-appointed editorial trustees. Ever since the Gutenberg revolution, the printed press has served as a vehicle for government propaganda as well as a vehicle for the expression of individual opinions. The Nazi occupation of west European countries provides a set of interesting case studies of officially sanctioned newspapers that published censored material and the simultaneous emergence of an underground press that served the resistance. Establishment of an underground press that stressed the need for individuals and groups to sabotage activities of the occupying forces was accomplished at great risk to both the publishers and distributors. Nevertheless, the underground press achieved very high levels of circulation as the war drew its course. Several of the underground newspapers continued publication after the end of the war, notably the Protestant daily Trouw and the Socialist daily Het Parool . In the 2000s, however, they no longer rank among the top 10 daily newspapers.

Daily, Weekly, and Other Periodicals

The Dutch are among EU members' most avid newspaper readers. Almost 5 million newspapers were sold daily to a nation of 15.5 million people in 1995, making for a daily circulation of 307 per 1,000 inhabitants. While not the largest among the west European countries, this ratio ranks among the highest. There are no Sunday newspapers in the Netherlands (a recent attempt to establish one failed), but there is a very high number of non-dailies, most of them regional in scope. The total number of daily newspapers has remained above 80 in the last two decades, and circulation has expanded in tandem with population growth; as population crept up from 14 million to 16 million in 2001, aggregate circulation rose from 4.6 to 5 million (Reddy 661).

In 2001, according to Translatin, the four leading daily newspapers were De Telegraaf , with a circulation of 777,000, owned by Telegraaf-Holding; Algemeen Dagblad , with a circulation of 390,000, owned by Dagbladunie (Reed-Elsevier); De Volkskrant , with a circulation of 372,000, owned by Perscombinatie co-operative; and NRC Handelsblad , with a circulation of 276,000, owned by Dagbladunie (Reed-Elsevier). When considering the top 10 newspapers in the most recent decades, the list consistently contains De Telegraaf , Algemeen Dag blad , and De Volkskrant . To illustrate, in 1981 the top 10 newspapers were De Telegraaf (circulation of 601,650), Algemeen Dagblad (357,943); De Volkskrant (214,500), Haagse Courant (194,025), Het Vrije Volk (160,152), De Gelderlander (158,946), Het Parool (158,400), Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (140,678), Courant Nieuws van de Dag (139,060), and NRC Handelsblad (138,112). In 1994 the top ten newspapers were De Telegraaf (circulation of 732,860), Algemeen Dagblad (393,371), De Volkskrant (358,750), NRC Handelsblad (267,172), Nieuwsblad van het Noorden (208,950), Dagblad De Limburger (198,365), De Gelderlander (176,795), Brabants Dag blad (164,435), Dagblad Tubantia (152,697), and Haag-se Courant (148,078) (Hendricks 37).

Founded in 1890, De Telegraaf is the leading Dutch, nationally distributed, daily newspaper. Its content is aimed at middle-class readership in the Netherlands, as well as abroad. While the editorial political orientation is generally neutral, articles often have flashy headlines, and there is a heavy focus on show business news. De Volkskrant has existed since 1919. For its first 50 years, it can best be described as being outspokenly Catholic, even militantly so. Since 1965, however, the editorial policy has changed, and the paper is since directed at a readership comprised of the well-educated, middle-ofthe-road, young "Amsterdammers." Its circulation has increased to rival that of Algemeen Dagblad in the mid-1990s. The NRC Handelsblad maintains a liberal political orientation, while the two daily papers founded by the resistance, Trouw and Het Parool , no longer rank in the top ten sellers. While Het Financieele Dagblad (not listed in the top 10) has a relatively small circulation of 47,000, it has a very extensive readership in the business world.

The Netherlands also has a large number of regional and local papers that place a strong emphasis on general news reporting, including Drentse Courant , Friesch Dagblad , Haarlem's Dagblad , and Amersfoortse Cou-rant . Several of the regional papers have a large reader-ship, rivaling that of the national dailies. Many of the regional papers are now also available on the Internet.

A few weekly news-oriented Dutch periodicals are noteworthy. De Groene Amsterdammer was founded in 1877, and in 2002 it had a circulation of 18,000. It is produced in large color format and specializes in publishing in-depth articles on political, economic, and cultural issues, with a leftist political orientation. The Netherlander , which has a 2002 circulation of 44,500, is reminiscent of the times of La Gazette de Hollande , since it is a Dutch periodical published only in English. It was started as an offshoot of Het Financieele Dagblad in 1992. As its parent newspaper, it focuses on financial and economic news and is directed primarily to the non-Dutch business world.

In 1999 two daily tabloid newspapers, Metro and Sp!ts began publication. Both are distributed free of charge to people using public transportation. Metro had first been introduced in Scandinavia and moved to the Netherlands after it had proven its success there. Sp!ts (so named because the morning rush hour is called spits uur , with the exclamation point instead of an "I" signifying the hurried traveller) was published by De Telegraaf , as a competitor to Metro . Although both of these tabloids have a large readership, they tend to undermine the sales of daily papers and threaten to become a profit-invading factor for newspaper producing companies. However, since Sp!ts is also available online, it permits its parent newspaper De Telegraaf to direct readers to profit-oriented links.

Economic Framework

The Netherlands is a typical small open economy. More than half of its gross domestic product (GDP) of 429.2 trillion euros in 2001 (expressed in 2002 prices) derived from exports (according to the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek 2002).

Economic growth is modest, and unemployment is remarkably low at 2.3 percent. The rate of inflation is also rather modest, at 3.5 percent. Despite the fact that government expenditures are still high (burdened by social security transfer payments), the annual budget turned into the black in 1999, for the first time since the oil crisis of the 1970s. The public debt ratio has declined substantially in the past 10 years, from approximately 80 percent of GDP in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to 67 percent in 1998 and 64 percent in 1999. Public spending itself, including social security transfer payments, fell below half of the GDP. The strengthening of the budget position is the result of factors both on the revenue and the expenditure side. First, the Netherlands is rich in petroleum and natural gas (mainly from the Slochteren gasfields), and it ranks among the world's largest producers and distributors of natural gas. Annual government revenues from the natural gas industry exceed 1 billion euros. Second, the government has gradually reduced its role since the 1980s and has followed a policy of privatization as well as deregulation in the last two decades.

Increasing concentration of newspaper ownership is one of several changes that have taken place in the Netherlands' newspaper industry in the past decade as it adapts to the rapid development of a multimedia environment beyond the traditional triad of print, picture, and sound, in a liberalized government policy environment where cross ownership is now permitted. Dutch newspapers derive half of their revenue from advertising, an additional 20-25 percent from classified advertising, and obtain relatively high single copy prices exceeding 1 euro. Since approximately half of their revenue is derived from actual copy sales, newspaper businesses are not highly vulnerable to changes in the advertising market in the Netherlands (Hendriks 11). There is vivid competition

in the national newspaper market, and competition in local markets is becoming more vivid, although the politically diversity of newspapers provides a niche for existing papers. Production quality is high, and color presses are commonly used. Product development in the printed newspaper is infrequent, however, because of reliance on niche markets.

In past decades, average and large daily newspapers have been able to take advantage of economies of scale. Those with circulations exceeding 100,000 copies have achieved before-tax profit rates of about 8-13 percent of gross revenue in the 15-year period spanning the 1980s and early 1990s, while small newspapers were often running a loss and mid-size papers were gradually becoming more profitable (Hendriks 22). The main cost categories where economies of scale are present are printing, editorial, advertising acquisition, and overhead. Newsprint itself, that is the actual paper to which the newsprint is applied, accounts for about 1/10 of the newsstand price, and cost analyses show that the smaller newspapers have much lower average cost per newspaper copy for this raw material than do larger papers. Large papers have the advantage in printing costs, where economies of scale are present, and smaller ones obviously hold the advantage in transportation and delivery (Hendriks 25-29). Accordingly, it can be profitable for large papers to have printing presses at different locations spread throughout their distribution area. NRC Handelsblad for example, which is usually distributed in the evening, is produced largely by using the printing presses of competitors during off-peak hours. Another cost-saving factor is provided by new printing technology. Digital printing is a fast process that eliminates a number of steps, notably plate making. With digital printing, newspapers can both save labor and reduce newsprint waste; this new technology also makes the production of smaller runs more profitable. Accordingly, newspapers can now be targeted to specific subgroups of users, such as by geographic region. As newspapers become differentiated to satisfy specific customer groups, however, distribution costs may increase somewhat, at least in the short run.

In the long run, the steady rise in circulation that is required to meet costs of labor, printing, and distribution will be hard to achieve in the Netherlands' newspaper industry. It has already moved out of the rapid circulation increases it achieved on the steep part of the S growth curve, and it is now creeping along the relatively flat part of the curve. Moreover, the very rapid development of technology for alternative information media is a threat that can only be met by aggressive participation by traditional newspapers in the new medium and by fostering media conversion. The industry can no longer live in the safe isolation it has enjoyed through much of the twentieth century.

Press Laws

Freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, is protected by three articles (6, 7, and 13) of the Dutch Constitution ( Grondwet voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden ). Article 6 is relevant since it specifies that "Every person has the right to freely exercise their religion or life conviction ( levensovertuiging ), individually or in community with others. …" Article 7 specifically addresses freedom of the press and other communications media, in four consecutive paragraphs. The first states that "No one needs to seek prior permission to express ideas or feelings through the printed press, within every-one's individual responsibility with respect to the law." Article 7, Paragraph 2 specifies that "Radio and television will be regulated by law. The content of a radio-or television broadcast is not subject to prior government clearance" (it will not be censored). Paragraph 3 of the article extends the previously stated rights to media other than the traditional triad of print, radio, and television. It also allows for legislation to limit these rights for persons under the age of 16 on grounds of morality. Finally, Article 7, Paragraph 4 excludes commercial advertising from the aforementioned three paragraphs. Article 13 of the Constitution also has implications for freedom of the press, since it guarantees privacy of the content of communications in the form of letters sent by mail, telephone, or telegraph. It does however, provide for exceptions to be made by law.

The phrase in Article 7, Paragraph 1, "within every-one's individual responsibility with respect to the law" limits the freedom of journalists in a number of categories. Journalists cannot commit offenses that violate state security, that insult members of a group of the population or members of the royal family, or that are blasphemous towards individuals. Furthermore, exceptions may be made to the "no one needs to seek prior permission" clause when the country is at war.


Even though the Dutch press generally enjoys complete freedom from censorship, there is an occasional minor exception, such as the case of Gra Boomsma, a writer, in the early 1990s. He was charged with defamation in relation to a 1992 interview published in a regional newspaper, in which he likened the actions of Dutch soldiers in Indonesia with those of the SS in Nazi Germany. Although he was originally acquitted in 1994, an appeal was filed, and his final acquittal took place in January 1995. This case is typical for countries with low thresholds for bringing libel actions against the press. In the Netherlands, a plaintiff can bring a libel suit by alleging an attack on personal honor (Wimmer and Rosenthal 3). The European Court of Human Rights, however, is bringing such thresholds up to a higher level, as it deals with cases referred to it and applies Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms, which states that the right to freedom of expression includes "the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authorities. …"

Another type of infringement on freedom of the press in the Netherlands comes in the form of sanctions for journalists who refuse to reveal their sources. In a recent case (World Press Freedom Review 2000), Koen Voskuil, a journalist with the daily Sp!ts , was detained by the Amsterdam Court of Justice for refusing to reveal the name of the police officer who told him that the public prosecutor's office obtained a false search warrant that was used to gather evidence against an arms dealer. The case caused massive criticism in the international press community.

All in all, however, freedom of the press in the Netherlands ranks very favorably compared with other nations in Europe and around the world. In a survey of 192 countries, Freedom House (2001) ranked the Netherlands in eighth place, ahead of Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, and France, but not as high as the Scandinavian countries Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

A concern of a different kind in relation to freedom of the press is the increasing concentration of ownership. Recently, the Anglo-Dutch publishing group Reed-Elsevier announced that its newspapers and consumer publishing units were to be sold. Reed-Elsevier is thus selling Dagbladunie , the "absolutely prize Dutch stable of newspapers" (World Freedom of the Press Review 74). Dagbladunie includes the national daily newspapers NRC Handelsblad and Algemeen Dagblad , as well as a large range of regional newspapers with a circulation of 300,000. The timing of the announcement came one week after Trinity International Holdings—possibly the biggest buyer in the regional newspaper market—bought a group of competing titles.

State-Press Relations

In addition to self-regulation by the newspaper publishers association, the Dutch newspaper industry is potentially affected by revisions in antitrust legislation. From July 1999, price coordination in circulation and in newspaper advertising was prohibited. The press receives tax favors and obtains additional forms of government assistance. The value-added tax for newspaper publishers is only 6.0 percent, compared to 17.5 percent for other businesses. Newspapers can also obtain low-interest government loans under specific provisions that are contained in the budgetary framework of the Netherlands Press Fund; this fund also compensates newspapers for losses due to small circulation and low density of distribution. Cross-ownership regulation limits the control of national television broadcasting organizations by newspaper organizations to those that control less than 25 percent of the circulation market. Local ownership of broadcasting organizations is not regulated by legislation, however.

The Dutch Public Prosecutor's office adopted a new policy relative to the press in the 1990s. While in previous years, the office was "very passive" in keeping the press informed about charges filed against it, under the new policy, the Public Prosecutor's office actively spreads this information. Jan Renkema and Hans Hoeken (1998) investigated whether the image of the accused party, a corporation for example, may be permanently tainted under this new policy, considering that "Dutch newspapers have a large audience, and the impact of their articles is strong … [and] negative publicity in newspapers has a high damage potential" (521). Based on interviews with readers of a regional newspaper, and using a previously published article, they found that readers' opinions are shaped by the degree of certainty that is conveyed in the article pertaining to the alleged illegal behavior engaged in by the company and that the negative effect of the allegation on the company's trustworthiness and expertise is retained for a long time in the public's perception.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The Netherlands has a generally open attitude toward foreign media. This openness is expressed along several dimensions: applicability of constitutional rights to individuals who are not Dutch citizens; availability of foreign newsprint to the Dutch public; accessibility to newsworthy events by foreign journalists; availability of Internet newspapers of other countries to the Dutch public; display of the work of foreign journalists and photographers in exhibitions held in the Netherlands; and participation by Dutch journalists in setting international standards on mass media that maintain editorial freedom. All of these dimensions of openness are exhibited in the Netherlands. In principle, members of foreign media active in the Netherlands receive the same treatment as do domestic journalists. The freedom of the press expressed in Article 7 of the constitution makes no distinction between persons who are of Dutch nationality and others. The Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (Nether-lands Organization of Journalists) is affiliated with several international organizations, including the International Federation of Journalists and the International Organization of Journalists. The Netherlands' newspaper publishers association is also affiliated with international organizations. The only infringement on members of the foreign media occur in those rare situations where both foreign and domestic journalists are denied access (by police on the scene) to a scene in the interest of national security. Unfortunately, this is occasionally also the case in a politically sensitive or embarrassing situation, as the following two examples show.

The 2001 World Press Freedom Review reported that foreign journalists recently criticized the organizers of the Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, held at the Hague in June 2001. According to the PANAFRICAN news agency, its journalists were critical of the lack of transparency in the forum itself. In addition, Bolivian journalist Claudio Rossei questioned why the forum was not open to journalists who were stakeholders in the fight against corruption and safeguarding integrity (World Press Freedom Review 2001). The second example is the highly embarrassing situation that arose during the European Football Championship finals in July 2000, when a group of disabled people were not allowed to enter Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam by means of their wheelchairs and were instead carried up into the stadium by police officers. A group of Italian reporters who were filming Dutch police officers carrying Italian disabled people up to the stadium were arrested and released only after intervention by the Italian ambassador to the Netherlands. One of the Italian journalists, Donatella Scarnati, claimed that the police beat up several of the journalists who were taking photographs of disabled persons who were being carried like "sacks of potatoes."

News Agencies

The ANP ( Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau / General Netherlands Press Bureau) is the primary news agency in the Netherlands. It started in 1934 as a cooperative of the newspaper publishers, which agreed to pay for the Bureau's information service according to the circulation size of their respective newspapers. Today, the ANP provides information to a number of newspapers, radio and television programs, Internet sites, and even mobile applications such as SMS, MMS, WAP, and I-Mode;ts stated goal is to be fast, objective, trustworthy, and current. Using the work of hundreds of journalists and photographers, ANP can deliver more than 160,000 news articles and 58,000 photographs annually to its subscribers. It is located in The Hague and works closely with international news agencies, notably Reuters, Deutsche Presse Agentur (Germany), Agence France-Presse (France), and Belga (Belgium).

A number of additional organizations in the Netherlands refer to themselves as news agencies and serve either commercial or ecclesiastical interests. These include Borger Odoorn Web , based in Odoorn, Drent, which provides news on the Internet, together with a number of other services, such as chat lines, links useful to readers, and local community announcements; and Nieuwsbank , a news agency based in Utrecht and offering the opportunity to its subscribers to both read and post news articles.

With the development of multimedia services on the Internet, where audio-visual materials and links to a number of applications and products can be used to attract customers, reliance on news agencies for the traditional text portion of the information becomes increasingly important. The cost of the news agency service to traditional printed newspapers is likely to rise as news agencies provide more and more editorial materials that are directly formatted for online use.

Broadcast News Media


The Netherlands has been one of the pioneer nations in the development of radio broadcasting. Radio communication, including short wave broadcasting, was developed in several nations in the 1920s, with the earliest interest in regular international broadcasting originating in The Netherlands' southern neighbor, Belgium, where wireless communication with the central African colony in the Belgian Congo was established in 1913 (Haslach 1). The Netherlands was the first nation where a regularly scheduled international short wave broadcasting system was initiated by private enterprises. The early ventures saw opposition from government, political parties, religious groups, and broadcasting organizations. The government's opposition was rooted in the belief that this development might compromise its policy of neutrality in international conflicts. The intent of early Dutch short wave broadcasting was to provide information in the Dutch language to the Netherlands' colonies in both the East and West Indies. Interestingly, the motivation for radio broadcasting was directly tied to colonialism in both the Netherlands and Belgium, and the Netherlands' policy of neutrality did not extend to struggles for independence in the colonies. Another minor exception to the neutrality policy was the multi-lingual "Happy Station," which was established to gather international goodwill for the Netherlands.

In the years following the end of World War I, the Netherlands increasingly came to terms with the fact that neutrality and isolation from the other world powers could not be maintained as long as it continued to have colonial power in the strategically located East Indies—a large, self-governing region (headed by a Governor-General) composed of thousands of islands, which was independent of the Netherlands with the exception of the strategic areas of defense and foreign policy. Dutch was the common official language imposed in this large region of many languages and religious beliefs. In the 1920s, an Islamic liberation movement took hold in the East Indies, under leadership of Sukarno and others, and the Netherlands' authorities were careful not to add to the rebellious mood among educated natives. Accordingly, NIROM (The Netherlands Indies Radio Broadcasting Company) was created as a tool to communicate a common Dutch policy to the fragmented native population that typically lived far away from Java on remote islands. In 1923 the PTT (Post, Telegraph, and Telephone Company) was linked up to the receiver on Java, giving birth to the first long wave wireless telegraphy connection between the Netherlands and the East Indies colony. In 1928 anyone could make an appointment to make a call to Java at the East Indies booth at the PTT headquarters in The Hague.

The first actual radio station in the Netherlands was established in 1919, following experiments with the new medium in the private sector. Meanwhile, the Nederlandse Seintoestellen Fabriek (Dutch Wireless Equipment Company, also known as NSF) forged a licensing agreement with the Marconi Company to install a wireless transmitter for the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, and Philips Radio expanded its activities in radio by purchasing the requisite technology and signing licensing agreements with established companies like RCA and Westinghouse in the United States, Telefunken in Germany, and several others. By 1927 a boom period had developed for short wave broadcasting and, to avoid international interference in the small territory of the Netherlands, no more than a few radio stations could operate simultaneously, and those that did needed to be at a low power. Since stations were affiliated with many different political parties, religious groups, and life philosophies, political realities dictated that radio stations should no longer be operated solely by private companies and was brought under state control. In this way, the Dutch broadcasting system became a hybrid of a state-run and a commercial venture.

Laws relating to media ownership Until 1960, when the offshore radio station Veronica began its pirate transmissions of commercial pop music, broadcasting associations had been the only presence on the Dutch airwaves (Parkes 1999). In 1964 REM ( Reclame-televisie Exploitatie Maatschappij , or advertising-television exploitation company) started offshore television and radio broadcasts. These two ventures showed the need for protection of public broadcasting by means of media laws and regulations, which came in the form of the Broadcasting Act of 1969 and 1981, and the Media Act of 1987, 1988, 1990, and 1994. The development of this legislation, specifically allowed for in the constitution, followed the realities of what was happening in the media.

In 1965 new organizations were allowed to join the public broadcasting system, and TROS ( Televisie en Radio Omroep Stichting /Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation) entered in 1966, followed by EO ( Evangelische Omroep /Evangelical Broadcasting) in 1970. The Broadcasting Act was passed in 1969, establishing the NOS ( Nederlandse Omroep Stichting /Dutch Broadcasting Corporation), which was provided with air-time and facilities for groups in society who had no air-time of their own. The act also specifies that broadcasting organizations must be not-for-profit and serve the public interest by providing programming that addresses the population's cultural, educational, and spiritual needs. NOS was permitted to utilize up to 40 percent of radio and TV airtime with its own programs. Following the Broadcasting Act's specifications, broadcasting organizations would get access to airtime according to one of three categories: category A for organizations with more than 400,000 subscribers, category B for those between 250,000 and 400,000 subscribers, and category C for those with 100,000 to 250,000 subscribers. Meanwhile, TROS ( Televisie en Radio Omroep Stichting /Television and Radio Broadcasting Organization) entered the public system in 1975, and the VOO ( Veronica Omroep Organisatie /Veronica Broadcasting Organization) followed suit in 1975, ending its 15 years as a pirate station.

By the end of the 1970s, there were eight broadcasting organizations that had a membership exceeding 100,000, which were "pillarized" by political and religious affiliation, as follows: (1) AVRO (neutral), (2) TROS (independent), (3) KRO (Catholic), (4) VARA (socialist), (5) NCRV (Protestant), (6) VOO (independent), (7) VPRO (progressive), and (8) EO (fundamentalist Protestant).

The Media Act was passed in 1988, which privatized NOS as part of the government's global policy move to privatization and deregulation of the economy. The production facilities were reborn as a commercial enterprise, the NOB ( Nederlands Omroepsproductie Bedrijf /Dutch Broadcast Production Company). The 1994 amendments to the Media Act introduced a system of airtime concessions. Additional laws regulating the media are the Netherlands Competition Act (Law 242, 1997) and the 1999 Telecommunications Act. The Telecommunications Act ( Telecommunicatiewet ) was adopted in April 1998 by the Second Chamber of the States General, and it became law in February 1999. It regulates the rights and responsibilities of everyone who is active in today's liberalized telecommunications market, which welcomes market competition and seeks to attract foreign as well as domestic investments.


Although television technology was being developed since 1925, and the Telegraph and Telephone Law (T & T Law) was revised in June 1927 to include under broadcasting the new technology of television, actual TV broadcasting was only introduced in the Netherlands on October 2, 1951 (Wieten 1994). The delay was due to a combination of factors, mainly the time needed to improve the technology and the lack of program development to attract the public's interest in this new medium.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, national television had three channels that were used by more than a dozen public broadcasters, each of whom is assigned a specific channel and time slot for broadcasting. The main national television networks were as follows: AVRO or Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep , EO or Evangelische Omroep , KRO or Katholieke Radio Omroep , NCRV or Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging , NOS or Nederlandse Omroep Stichting , NPS or Nederlandse Programma Stichting , TROS or Televisie Radio Omroep Stichting , VARA or Vereniging Arbeiders Raio Amateurs , and VPRO or Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep .

Regional television networks included Radio-TV Noord Holland, Radio-TV Oost, Radio-TV Rijnmond, TV Noord, Westlandse Omroep Stichting, and several others. The many cable and satellite television broadcasters cover programs that are theme-oriented and provide programs from pay-per-view sport events to children's programming, news, travel, and music.

Electronic News Media

Expansion of new electronic media

Electronic news media in the Netherlands now includes the traditional radio and television, as well as a variety of other media, such as newspapers distributed via the Internet, teletext, Acrobat-readable text, and streaming audio and streaming video productions. It remains to be seen whether the new wave of technology innovation taking place in the last decade of the twentieth century will lead to a completely unimpeded flow of knowledge and information among the Dutch people and between them and the global society. Ideally, in the words of Shalini Venturelli: "A universally networked broadband, interactive, multimedia information society could be the richest source of creative, diverse, empowering, and democratizing communication ever to connect humanity. It may perhaps evolve into the world's first true mass medium' by allowing anyone with a few simple tools to communicate ideas to thousands of people at once." (1)

While it is too early to see whether the Netherlands will evolve as a leading contributor to such a mass medium, the Dutch have certainly made the move to the introduction of all forms of new communication technology, including personal computers, digital terrestrial television, cinema, cell phones, and conversions of the various electronic media (such as personalized versions of media information).

According to the latest figures released by the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS, the Netherlands' Central Bureau of Statistics), Dutch citizens today spend an average of 10 hours weekly at their personal computer. There are substantial variations by region, age, sex, and education level, however (van Mieghem 2002). Persons aged 25-34 spend 16 hours per week, as do persons with higher education; those older than age 65 spend only 1 hour on average, and men's use of 14 hours is twice that of women's. The lowest user rates, as expected, are from persons older than the age of 65 (1 hour), persons with only a primary level of education (4 hours), and those living in rural areas (8 hours). Increased use of personal computers has made non-print newspapers popular. Several daily newspapers have established online editions, with subscription rates ranging from 4.75 euros for three weeks to 17 euros for 6 weeks. While many of the online papers are also the well-known printed daily newspapers ( Algemeen Dagblad, De Telegraaf, De Volkskrant, Het Financieele Dagblad, Het Parool, Nederlands Dagblad ,and NRC Handelsblad ), some lesser known titles are also available online (the tabloid newspapers Sp!ts and Reformatorisch Dagblad ). The branching out of newspapers to the Internet has caused disputes between the publishers and the journalists' union concerning intellectual property rights and royalties for journalists who are full-time staff members as well as for freelancers, since newspaper publishers favor the old system in which their work is compensated on a one-time basis.

Education & Training

Higher education in the Netherlands consists of a two-track system with universities on the one hand and other institutions of higher learning, Hogescholen , on the other. Higher education in journalism is conducted as part of the Hogeschool system. The first journalism school in the Netherlands was founded at the Hogeschool van Utrecht , in 1967, ending the long tradition that the craft is acquired merely with on-the-job training. In Utrecht journalism is taught at the Faculty for Communication and Journalism ( Fakulteit Communicatie en Journalistiek ) in the School of Journalism ( School van Journalistiek en Voorlichting or SvJ). The program is comprised of four years of course work, with students typically taking four or five courses concurrently, with topics covering both the specialty and background knowledge. The academic year has three trimesters, with examinations at the end of each. A number of other Hogescholen now offer journalism programs as well, and students often have the option of choosing between journalism as a full-time specialty or taking a few courses in journalism and communication as electives. Full-time programs in journalism are offered at the Academy for Journalism ( Academie voor Journalistiek en Voorlichting ) of the Fontijs Hogescholen in Tilburg (full-time, part-time, or courses taken as electives), the Faculty of Journalism ( Faculteit Journalistiek en Communicatie ) of the Christelijke Hogeschool Windesheim in Zwolle, and the Evangelical School for Journalism ( Evangelische School voor Journalistiek en Voorlichting ) of the Christelijke Hogeschool Ede . The typical course of full-time study comprises courses in journalism education and courses in political science, international politics, and intensive language study (English and two additional foreign languages). A portfolio or other capstone experience and an internship are also required. An English-language program is offered at the New School for Information Services in Amsterdam. This four-year program leads to a degree in communication, with elective courses in photojournalism and business journalism.

In addition to the full-time degree programs, there are a number of graduate and continuing education programs in journalism education. One such program is the Post-doctoral Education in Journalism (PDOJ, Postdoctorale Opleiding Journalistiek ) of the Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam. This eight-month training program runs from January to September, with the first five months spent on campus for formal education and practica . The summer months are devoted to an internship with one of the daily newspapers participating in the program. Another program for continuing education in journalism is available at the Institute for Media and Information Management at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam . Here, students take individual courses, in editing for example,

to round out their education. Finally, the Media Academie in Hilversum offers continuing education in the form of individual courses on a range of subjects useful to practicing journalists, such as Internet journalism, composition of texts, editing, investigative reporting, and anchoring programs for television and radio.

The four largest Dutch newspapers ( De Telegraaf, Het Algemeen Dagblad, De Volkskrant , and NRC Handelsblad ) offer summer internships to journalism students. Internships are arranged through a coordinator at the university. The approximately 100 available internships are allocated quarterly to the four major institutions of higher learning that offer journalism degrees, in accordance with their enrollments in the program. A few additional internships are offered by smaller national and regional newspapers. It is possible for students to complete their internship with an international newspaper, as long as the goals of the program can be met, and the program coordinator gives approval.

There are a number of councils, agencies, and societies supporting Dutch journalists; the Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten (NVJ, Netherlands Association of Journalists) is the major professional association. The NVJ was established in 1968 and is physically located in Amsterdam, while also maintaining an Internet presence. The association assumes a number of supporting roles for journalists and other professionals, as well as members of the public at large. It sets fees for freelance work, and it provides safeguards for the protection of intellectual property rights of journalists and authors of non-newsprint materials. It takes an advocacy position for both its members and for the public at large, and it consistently stands for freedom of the press, freedom of

access to information, and responsibility of the media in both the printed press and broadcasting. A special working group deals with issues of migrants and the media. The NVJ also fosters continuing education for journalists and provides specific assistance to those who are on assignment in war zones and disaster areas. Over the years, the NVJ has evolved into an elaborate organization with several divisions of specialized sections. One type of section organizes members according to the medium they are active in (daily newspaper journalists, Internet professionals, freelancers, photojournalists, and regional broadcasters, for example), while other NVJ sections are organized by profession (sports journalists and editors-in-chief) and by region (Central Netherlands, Amsterdam, International). The NVJ is affiliated with "Reporters Respond," an international association that provides financial and other assistance to journalists, camera operators, and other members of the media who face emergencies, from kidnapping to anonymous phone calls. Together with many other journalists' unions and organizations, the NFJ is also a member organization of the International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organization for journalists.

Some organizations specialize in assuming an advocacy role for citizens in an adversarial positions with journalism professionals. In particular, the Journalism Council ( Raad voor de Journalistiek ) is an independent agency for citizens who wish to file a complaint about journalistic activities and who do not wish to litigate using the court system. The Council is one of the tools of self-regulation of the media. Half of its members are journalists, while the other half is composed of experts in a variety of areas, such as legal studies, academic journalism, editing, and the electronic media. While the Council can hold hearings and pronounce a verdict, it does not impose sanctions. Its verdicts are published in the professional publication De Journalist , and the history of the verdicts constitutes a set of guidelines for journalism ethics. Even when no specific complaint has been made in relation to an issue involving journalism ethics, the Council may enter the public debate and express an opinion, as in the use of hidden cameras, and thus contributes to the formation of public opinion in media ethics.

The Netherlands Audiovisueel Archief (NAA), is a large archive with holdings of 800,000 hours of audiovisual materials that are accessible to the public and provide a valuable database for journalism education and research.

Awards for Journalists

The European Journalism Center (EJC, a mid-career training facility for European journalists) and Europartner NRW jointly organize the Europartner Journalism Award for "excellence in reporting cross-border business cooperation." In excess of 1,500 small and medium sized enterprises attended the latest meeting, held at the Europartner conference in Dortmund, Germany, on June 24, 2002. In addition to awards for their written words, journalists can also be recognized for excellence in photography. In May 2001, Lara Jo Regan won the 44th annual World Press Photo 2000 award at a ceremony taking place at the Old Church in Amsterdam. The winning entry was her photograph documenting living conditions of illegal immigrants in the United States.


The Dutch are among the European Union's most avid newspaper readers. Almost 5 million newspapers were sold daily to a nation of 15.5 inhabitants in 1995. The daily circulation of 307 newspapers per 1,000 inhabitants is one of the highest in Europe. The four leading national newspapers are De Telegraaf, Algemeen Dagblad, De Volkskrant , and NRC Handelsblad ; their combined circulation is close to two million copies daily. There is also a substantial local and regional daily press and, in 1999, the tabloid newspaper format became popular with the introduction of the no-charge papers Metro and Sp!ts .

The economic framework is set on the one hand by government policies, which have fostered deregulation and liberalization in the past two decades, and the pecularities of costs of production and distribution facing the printed newspaper industry itself. Newspaper ownership has become increasingly concentrated, with three of the four largest newspapers now residing under a single ownership.

Dutch newspapers cost more than 1 euro as a rule, and newspaper companies rely on circulation for about half of their revenues. Niche markets provide fairly stable readership, although the industry has definitely moved beyond the steep portion of the S-shaped growth curve. Economies of scale are important in the area of printing, editorial costs, distribution and transportation, where larger papers have the advantage. New technologies, especially digital printing, make possible the production of smaller runs of newspapers that are tailored to specific customer groups.

Freedom of the press is constitutionally protected in the Netherlands. Specifically, Article 7, states that "no one needs to seek prior permission to express ideas or feelings through the printed press, within everyone's responsibility with respect to the law," that "radio and television will be regulated by law," and that the content of broadcasts is not subject to "prior government clearance." A subsequent paragraph extends these rights to include newly developed media. Although the Dutch press generally enjoys complete freedom from censorship, there are minor exceptions to complete freedom of the press, usually in relation to hijacking, matters of national security and, unfortunately, highly embarrassing political situations, such as the incident where journalists were prevented from taking photographs of handicapped persons who were not allowed to take wheelchairs into Feyenoord Stadium. Attitudes towards the foreign media are generally very open.

The Netherlands has been one of the pioneer nations in the development of radio broadcasting. Radio communication, including short wave broadcasting, was developed in the 1920s. In 1927 the industry had already reached the stage where no more than a few radio stations could operate simultaneously, at low power, to avoid interference. Eventually, the private stations were brought under partial control, in the form of regulations, by the state. Applicable legislation includes the Broadcasting Act of 1969 and 1981, and the Media Act of 1987, amended in 1988, 1990 and 1994.

Television technology was also developed since the 1920s, but the first TV station only became operative in 1951. In 2002 national television has three channels that are used by more than a dozen broadcasters, each of whom is assigned a specific channel and time slot. New electronic media are being rapidly introduced. Many newspapers are available online and offer a number of attractive features to their customers, including audio-visuals as well as links to a number of applications and sites.

Education of journalists nowadays takes place at institutions of higher learning, with several Hogescholen offering four year degree programs. The first journalism school in the Netherlands was founded in 1967 at the Hogeschool of Utrecht. Advanced students in journalism take internships at a newspaper that are arranged through the coordinator of their university studies. In the long run, journalists' activities will be redefined in terms of both paper and multi-media technologies. There are a number of councils, agencies, and societies supporting Dutch journalists, with the NVJ ( Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten ) as the major professional association.


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Brigitte H. Bechtold

User Contributions:

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Dec 1, 2010 @ 11:11 am
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Dec 26, 2010 @ 12:12 pm
Please send sources where i can read newspaper articles from the period world war II 1939-45, national and/or regional: Rotterdam-Dordrecht and Mill and St. Hubert. Many thanks and a Happy New Year!
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Dec 2, 2016 @ 4:04 am
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