Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 December 2014, 12:47 GMT

Freedom of the Press 2008 - Netherlands

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Netherlands, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f62028.html [accessed 25 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 2 (of 30)
Political Environment: 7 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 4 (of 30)
Total Score: 13 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

The media in the Netherlands are free and independent. Rarely enforced restrictions against insulting the monarch and royal family exist, and were used twice in 2007. A homeless man was charged for slandering the Queen during an unrelated arrest, and in reaction, a young journalist was arrested for wearing a t-shirt that read "Queen Beatrix is a whore." The Netherlands does not have legislation ensuring the right of journalists to protect their sources, although this right can be invoked under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In November, the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment acknowledged that its employees had repeatedly since 2006 hacked into the Dutch Geassocieerde Pers Diensten (GPD) press agency computers. The government employees checked unpublished stories, which was how the activity was discovered: the ministry called GPD to complain about a piece that had yet to be publicized. The Social Affairs Minister denied directing the actions or any knowledge thereof. Action was pending at the year's end. This follows the 2006 case involving De Telegraaf, which was at the center of a debate over the legality of wiretapping when it was revealed that the Dutch intelligence service had been taping the phone conversations of two of De Telegraaf's leading reporters.

The legacy left by controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh's 2004 murder by a radical Islamist has been a climate of fear among journalists and filmmakers interested in pursuing controversial topics, particularly those related to immigration and the increasing influence of Islam in the Netherlands. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch politician known for her outspoken criticisms of Islam and for the film Submission, on which she collaborated with Theo van Gogh, also received death threats and was placed under protection. In 2007, the Dutch government announced it would cut off funding for her security while she was living outside of the Netherlands. Funding was eventually found and she was allowed to maintain the necessary protection while living in the United States.

Despite a high concentration of newspaper ownership, a wide variety of opinions are expressed in the print media. In a remnant of the traditional "pillar" system, the state allocates public radio and television programming to political, religious, and social groups according to their membership size. While every province has at least one public television channel, public broadcasting has faced stiff competition from commercial stations since their legalization in 1988. International news sources are widely accessible, and the internet is unrestricted by the government and used regularly by roughly 88 percent of the population.

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