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. Restrictions against insulting the monarch and royal family exist but are rarely enforced. 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, two respected journalists, Bart Mos and Joost de Haas, of the Netherlands' largest newspaper, De Telegraaf, were imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources in the case of an intelligence service agent who was suspected of leaking classified information to crime syndicates. After fierce protests from the media sector, Mos and de Haas were released a few days later and the court order to reveal their sources was dropped. Nonetheless, this is a worrying sign for journalists in the Netherlands, many of whom now fear that potential sources will be deterred from confiding in them as a result of this case. De Telegraaf was also at the center of a separate 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. In defense of the wiretapping, Interior Minister Johan Remkes told the Dutch Parliament that journalists should not be given special protections and, like the rest of the population, ought to be subject to investigation and telephone tapping if necessary.

In 2005, Mohammed Bouyeri, the radical Islamist who killed the controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. Although this particular case resulted in the trial and conviction of the perpetrator, the legacy left by van Gogh's murder is 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 parliamentarian known for her outspoken criticisms of Islam and for the film Submission, on which she collaborated with Theo van Gogh, also received death threats during the year. In January, two satellite television stations that transmit from Iran were blocked in an attempt to censor extremist views. In November, according to the International Press Institute, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at newspaper printer PCM. Minor damage was caused, though the perpetrators were not caught and the motives were unclear.

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 75 percent of the population.

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