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Media service providers are free, within legal frameworks, to determine the form and content of their programmes. You can submit questions, tips or complaints about the content of programmes to the media service provider that offers the programme.

Before you submit a question, tip or complaint we recommend you to first read the following Q&A (Questions and Answers) to make sure we can process your tip or notice in the best possible way.

Q: What type of media institutions fall within the scope of the Dutch Media Act?

A: The Dutch Media Authority supervises compliance of audiovisual media service providers with the rules of the Dutch Media Act 2008. According to the Dutch Media Authority, both broadcasters (TV, radio) and commercial video-on-demand services (‘VODs’) fall within the scope of the Dutch Media Act. Also, video-sharing platform services (‘VSPs’) fall within the scope of the Dutch Media Act. However, most (large) VSP’s people use in the Netherlands most likely won’t fall under Dutch jurisdiction because they are located in other countries.

Q: What is a commercial video-on-demand service (VODs)?

A: Five criteria determine whether there is a commercial video-on-demand service:

  1. The main purpose of the service is to offer videos;
  2. The service has a mass media nature;
  3. It is an economic service;
  4. The service provider is in charge of the selection of the videos (editorial responsibility), and;
  5. There is a catalogue that arranges the videos.

If all criteria are met, the service falls under the supervision of the Dutch Media Authority. This means the Dutch Media Act applies. An example of VODs that falls within the scope of the Dutch Media Act is Netflix. But also ‘uploaders’ can be considered to be a VOD such as a channel on YouTube (or any other video sharing platform).

Q: What is a video-sharing platform service (VSPs)?

A: A video-sharing platform service is a service (or a separate part thereof) whose main purpose is to offer (to the general public) audiovisual media content or user-generated videos for information, entertainment, or education:

  1. for which the video platform provider has no editorial responsibility;
  2. for which the organization is determined by the video platform provider by automatic means or algorithms; and
  3. which is offered through public electronic communication networks as referred to in Article 1.1 of the Dutch Telecommunications Act.

YouTube is an example of a well-known VSP. YouTube falls under Irish jurisdiction so if you have a complaint about YouTube, you can find a link to our Irish colleagues: the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)

Q: Which media service providers fall under Dutch jurisdiction?

A: An overview of the media service providers licensed by (in the event of broadcasters) or registered with (in the case of video-on-demand service providers) the Dutch Media Authority can be found in our registers

When an audiovisual media service is registered with the Dutch Media Authority and offers content in other European countries, a citizen from the other European countries can file a complaint at the Dutch Media Authority. For example, when you are a Polish or a French citizen you can file a complaint about the Polish or French Netflix catalogue at the Dutch Media Authority. It is not possible to file a complaint about the US Netflix catalogue since as a consequence of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive the Dutch Media Authority is only competent for catalogues targeting countries belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA, which are the EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

Although our supervision is formally limited to the catalogues targeting these EEA countries, we continue to also supervise the Netflix catalogue aimed at the UK. This is based on a temporary arrangement following Brexit and is likely to end as soon as a new domestic law will grant Ofcom also jurisdiction over on-demand media services targeting the UK from abroad.

Q: What type of complaints can I submit to the Dutch Media Authority?

A: The rules in the Dutch Media Act aim to protect audiences from harmful content, regulate commercial communication, promote European, national and independent works or deal with the specific nature of public service media. Broadcasters and video-on-demand service providers are free, within the legal boundaries, to determine the form and content of their programs, videos, and other material offered to their audiences. Currently, there is only a Dutch version of the Dutch Media Act accessible. An English translation of the Dutch Media Act will be available in shortly.

Q: What type of commercial communication is allowed or prohibited according to the Dutch Media Act?

A: For commercial media service providers, the rules on advertising, sponsoring, and product placement are particularly relevant. The general tendency of these rules is that it must always be clear to the viewer if there is a commercial expression by stating it.

The basic principle for the Dutch advertising regulation is that advertising should only take place during commercial breaks. The beginning and end of a commercial break must be demarcated. The Dutch Media Act obliges all audiovisual media services to affiliate with the Dutch Advertising Code Foundation (Stichting Reclame Code) and to comply with the Dutch Advertising Code.

Sponsoring has to be stated before or after the video/program (e.g. ‘this program video has been sponsored by’).

The rules on product placement are more extensive since this is a more subtle form of commercial communication. The main distinction between sponsoring and product placement is that displaying or referring to a product or service is part of the story plot. Also, the payment is done in return for showing or referring to the product or service. In the case of sponsoring the link between the payment and the program is less direct and done to contribute to the production of a program in general and increase the brand awareness of the paying commercial party. Product placement has to be mentioned before and after the video/program. There should be no inducements to buy, rent or use products and services through specific promotions. Also, there should be no excessive focus on the product. Product placement is always prohibited in programs and videos:

  • for children under twelve years of age;
  • about news and current affairs;
  • on consumer issues;
  • of a religious or spiritual nature.

For the public media service providers, there are stricter rules on advertising and other commercial communication in the Dutch Media Act. Sponsoring of programs of public media service providers is subject to tighter rules and product placement is prohibited to safeguard the public and independent nature of their services

Q: How does the Dutch Media Act regulate the protection of minors?

A: In the Dutch Media Act, the protection of minors is largely entrusted to a self-regulating body, called NICAM. The Dutch Media Act states that audiovisual media service providers - that fall within the Dutch jurisdiction and solely focus on the Netherlands - are only allowed to distribute content that may harm the physical, mental or moral development of children under the age of sixteen if the organization is affiliated to NICAM. NICAM created a classification system, called ‘Kijkwijzer’, which contains content descriptors and age symbols, and monitors compliance with this system.

When an audiovisual media service provider falls within the Dutch jurisdiction but also offers media services in other EU member states, it does not have to be affiliated to NICAM for the services offered in the other EU member states. Instead, that party can set up its system or opt for the system from that other EU Member State. In both cases, the Dutch Media Authority must grant approval, whereby it is assessed whether the minimum level of Dutch protection is met.

Q: What type of complaints are excluded from the Dutch Media Authority’s competence?

A: Questions or complaints of an editorial nature (e.g. regarding editorial decisions made about programs or other material) should be submitted to the media service providers concerning their editorial autonomy. For example, when a movie or program is about a controversial topic or if people are offended by the content. As long as it doesn’t incite violence or hate, or doesn’t contain extreme harmful (e.g. rape pornography) there is only a small possibility it is prohibited by Dutch law. There is often a contact and information section on the website of the media service provider.

Do you have any questions about our tasks and competencies? Or do you think that a media service provider does not comply with the rules of the Dutch Media Act? Fill in the form below.

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