Media of the Netherlands

Media in the Netherlandstelevision, radio, newspapers, magazines – are characterised by a tradition of politico-denominational segregation ("pillarisation") on the one hand and an increasing degree of commercialism on the other.

Television and radio

Television and radio are provided by a system of public-broadcasting organisations (sharing three television and five radio networks) together with a number of commercial channels.

Public service broadcasting

NPO Logo

The Netherlands Public Broadcasting system arose from the former practice – known as "pillarisation" – in which the country's various religious and social groups all organised their own institutions, with financial help from the government. These institutions included broadcasting. Although the system of pillarisation largely collapsed in the 1970s, the broadcasting associations themselves have remained active. Most have several tens of thousands of members, and they are allocated broadcasting time on the public channels in proportion to the size of their memberships. In addition, a number of other broadcasting foundations, established by the government, also receive air time.

The system is financed from three sources:

The broadcasting associations share three national television channels (NPO 1, NPO 2, NPO 3) and seven radio channels (NPO Radio 1, NPO Radio 2, NPO 3FM, NPO Radio 4, NPO Radio 5, NPO Radio 6, and FunX). Each of these television channels have their own profile: thus NPO 1 is oriented towards news, sport, and family programming, NPO 2 towards culture, arts, politics, and religion, while NPO 3 concentrates on youth and progressive programming.

There are also several provincial television channels, which are organised by the provinces.

Full name Abbreviation Status Orientation Website
Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep AVRO Association (class A) Liberal / neutral
Bart's Neverending Network BNN Association (class A) Youth
Evangelische Omroep EO Association (class A) Orthodox Protestant
Katholieke Radio Omroep KRO Association (class A) catholic
Omroepvereniging MAX MAX Association (class B) Older viewers
Nederlandse Christelijke Radio Vereniging NCRV Association (class A) Protestant
Publieke Omroep Weldenkend Nederland En Dergelijke PowNed Association (class C) Rebellious / Right wing
Televisie Radio Omroep Stichting TROS Association (class A) Neutral (former commercial pirate)
Omroepvereniging VARA VARA Association (class A) Social-democratic
Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep VPRO Association (class B) Liberal (formerly Liberal Protestant)
Wakker Nederland WNL Association (class C) Conservative / right wing
Nederlandse Omroep Stichting NOS Foundation News / sport
Stichting NTR NTR Foundation Educational
Boeddhistische Omroep Stichting BOS foundation Buddhist
Humanistische Omroep HO foundation Humanist
Interkerkelijke Omroep Nederland IKON foundation Nine small Christian churches
Joodse Omroep JO foundation Jewish
Nederlandse Islamitische Omroep NIO foundation Islamic (conservative)
Nederlandse Moslim Omroep NMO foundation Islamic (progressive)
Omrop Fryslân OF foundation West Frisian language
Organisatie Hindoe Media OHM foundation Hindu ohmnet
Zendtijd voor Politieke Partijen PP foundation Political parties represented in the Dutch parliament
Rooms-Katholiek Kerkgenootschap RKK foundation Catholic (conservative)
Stichting Ether Reclame STER foundation Commercial advertising
Zendtijd voor Kerken ZvK foundation Church services

Commercial broadcasting

Commercial broadcasting was banned until the late 1980s. In the 1970s, before they were allowed to join the public television system, Veronica and TROS had broadcast as off-shore pirate stations. In the 1980s the RTL Group started broadcasting from Luxembourg. In 1988 commercial broadcasting was legalised. Currently there are seven larger channels owned by two companies. RTL owns RTL 4, RTL 5, RTL 7 and RTL 8, while SBS, the Finish publisher Sanoma and Dutch television production company Talpa (formally SBS Broadcasting Group) own SBS 6, SBS 9, NET 5 and Veronica. There are also other networks present, offering speciality channels. Among them are Discovery Benelux, Viacom Media, Fox Channels, Disney-ABC and Time Warner.


Newspaper rack in Nijmegen
For a full list of newspapers see List of newspapers in the Netherlands

All newspapers are privately owned. They were historically linked to the pillarisation system, with some titles having strong links to labour unions or political parties. These ties have all been severed now. Two companies play a large role: PCM Uitgevers, which owns several newspapers; and De Telegraaf, which owns De Telegraaf (the largest paper) and Sp!ts, a free newspaper.

The most important papers are the populist right-wing tabloid De Telegraaf, the progressive liberal NRC Handelsblad, which also publishes nrc•next, the Protestant Trouw and the progressive left-wing De Volkskrant. The latter two newspaper won in consecutive years (2012, 2013) the prestigious award for being the best nationwide newspaper in Europe at the European Newspaper Award.

Smaller Protestant communities have their own paper, like the Nederlands Dagblad and the Reformatorisch Dagblad. The business community has the Het Financieele Dagblad. A recent phenomenon are the widely read free newspapers Spits and the Metro. There are also several local and regional newspapers. The Algemeen Dagblad, the third largest paper, recently merged with several local papers to form a hybrid national-local paper.


Magazines were, like the other media, frequently connected to pillars, such as Beatrijs, a Catholic woman's weekly. The main news magazines are the left-wing Vrij Nederland and De Groene Amsterdammer and the more right-wing Elsevier and HP/De Tijd.

Some 1970 Dutch magazines formerly owned by Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen were sold to by the Finnish media group Sanoma. Apart from many typical Dutch ones like Margriet, Libelle and Nieuwe Revu, these include Donald Duck (a comic book with Disney comics) and the Dutch edition of Playboy.


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