Netherlands | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2010

2010 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

  • Media in the Netherlands are free and independent. Rules against insulting the monarch and royal family are rarely enforced, but they were invoked in August 2009 after the Associated Press published pictures of the royal family on vacation. A Dutch court ruled that the Associated Pressshould pay €1,000 (US$1,400) every time the pictures are republished, up to a maximum fine of €50,000.
  • The Netherlands lacks specific national legislation ensuring the right of journalists to protect their sources, though this right can be invoked under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A draft law addressing the matter was released by the justice minister in late 2008 but had not been enacted by the end of 2009.
  • In July 2009, an Amsterdam court ruled that the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) had illegally tapped the telephone of journalist Jolande van der Graaf. She had written two articles for the newspaper De Telegraaf that contained classified information and refused to identify her source. In December, an independent review committee found that the wiretapping was justified, and the AIVD was exonerated.
  • Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot remained under investigation for images that allegedly violated antidiscrimination laws by offending Muslims and other minorities. He had been arrested in May 2008 and jailed overnight, but had not been prosecuted by the end of 2009.
  • In March 2009, the European Court of Human Rights upheld police measures in 2002 against the magazine AutoWeek, which was threatened with closure and subjected to searches after the publishers refused to give up photographs related to an article about illegal street racing.
  • The 2004 murder of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a radical Islamist has created a climate of fear among journalists and artists interested in pursuing controversial topics, particularly those related to immigration and the role of Islam in the Netherlands.
  • An appeals court in January 2009 overturned an earlier ruling not to prosecute politician Geert Wilders for allegedly inciting hatred and discrimination through editorials in which he called the Koran fascist and said it should be banned, as well as his controversial film Fitna. Wilders’s trial was scheduled for January 2010. He faced up to 16 months in prison and a fine of nearly US$13,000 if convicted.
  • In September 2009, prosecutors decided to pursue discrimination charges against the Arab European League (AEL) for allegedly anti-Semitic cartoons, while complaints about the circulation of allegedly anti-Islamic cartoons were dismissed.
  • Despite a high concentration of newspaper ownership, a wide variety of opinions are expressed in the print media.
  • 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. The internet is not restricted by the government and was used regularly by roughly 90 percent of the population in 2009.