The role of public broadcasters

Public broadcasters in the Netherlands are required to provide a varied range of programmes for every group in society. The public broadcasting organisations are allocated airtime. They use radio, television, internet and mobile services.

Varied programming

The Media Act requires public broadcasters to provide a varied range of programmes in the fields of information, culture, education and entertainment. They are also responsible for providing a reliable news service. Their programmes should not be aimed just at a large audience. Smaller target groups – for example lovers of the arts – and the various population groups should also feel catered for by the public broadcasting system.

Public channels

Public broadcasters may choose the channels on which they broadcast. They are required in any event to make programmes for:

  • three TV channels: NPO 1, 2 and 3;
  • five radio channels: NPO Radio 1, 2, 4 and 5 and NPO 3FM.

There are also a number of theme channels on which they may broadcast. They include the TV channels NPO Nieuws (rolling news service), NPO Politiek (politics & current affairs) and NPO Doc (documentaries), and radio channels like FunX (music) and NPO Radio 6 (rolling news service).

Public channel programming

Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPO) is the organisation that decides which programmes will be broadcast on the public channels. It does so in consultation with the broadcasters. NPO oversees the public broadcasting system. It ensures that programming on each channel is recognisable and well-organised.

The programmes are made by the broadcasters. They decide on the content, and are responsible for it. The following organisations have broadcasting time on the national public channels:

  • The broadcasting associations
    They provide most of the programmes, on all kinds of subjects (art, culture, education etc.).
  • NOS and NTR
    NOS and NTR are the public service broadcasters. Their role is laid down in the Media Act. NOS is mainly responsible for news and sports services and events coverage. NTR chiefly provides programmes for minorities, as well as arts, cultural and educational programmes.
  • Religious broadcasters
    These are small broadcasting associations, whose members belong to a particular religion or share beliefs, as reflected in their programmes. These associations will cease to exist as of 2016.
  • Political parties
    Political parties represented in parliament are given airtime to broadcast their views. Around election time, every political party standing for election is given airtime.
  • The government
    The government receives airtime to provide the public with information.