Safeguarding press freedom

A free press is indispensable in a democratic society. In the Netherlands, the government may not interfere with what people say or write. Provided they do not break the law, everyone can say and write whatever they want.

Press freedom in the Constitution and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)

Press freedom is an integral part of freedom of expression. In the Netherlands, it is laid down in the Constitution. Everyone may say or write whatever they want, provided they do not break the law. Defamation and inciting to hatred and discrimination, for example, are forbidden. The court decides after the event whether someone has broken the law.

Freedom of expression is laid down in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well.

Freedom of expression on the internet

In the Netherlands, everyone may express their thoughts or feelings in newspapers or magazines, or on the radio, TV or internet. So freedom of expression also applies to the internet. And here too, the court decides afterwards whether what someone said or wrote was against the law.

Broadcasters responsible for the form and content of programmes

The Media Act states that public and commercial broadcasters have editorial independence, which means that they are responsible for the form and content of their programmes. The government may not interfere. Broadcasters decide for themselves what they will broadcast on radio, TV and the internet.

Government support through Journalism Promotion Fund

The government makes an active contribution to independent journalism and thus to safeguarding freedom of expression with grants from the Journalism Promotion Fund. The Fund targets not only newspapers and magazines but also journalistic websites.

The Fund awards up to around €2 million a year in grants for innovative journalism and regional cooperation between journalists’ organisations. The reason for these grants is that more and more local and regional newspapers, magazines and broadcasters are disappearing or having to cut back, which could harm democracy.

Promoting freedom of expression

In some countries, freedom of expression is under threat. The Dutch government supports the independence of journalists and media organisations.