The Dutch Media Authority (in Dutch: Commissariaat voor de Media) is the media authority in the Netherlands. We supervise compliance with the Media Act 2008 (in Dutch Mediawet 2008) and the Act on the fixed book price (in Dutch: Wet op de vaste boekenprijs). Our oversight concerns the national public service media (national, regional and local), commercial media service providers, short-term broadcasters (in Dutch: evenementenzenders) and commercial on-demand media service providers. Our aim is to protect the independence, the plurality, and accessibility of the audiovisual media in our country. By doing so we also support the freedom of information in our society.
Media such as radio, TV, and online platforms play a crucial role in informing the citizens. With that regard the independence, quality, and diversity of the information offer are legally safeguarded in the Dutch Media Act and Media Decree (in Dutch Mediabesluit 2008). The Dutch Media Authority has oversight over the media service providers to check whether they respect and comply with this regulation. In that respect, we focus on a level playing field between public service and private media providers and transparency of ownership of media outlets.
The Dutch Media Authority is responsible for audiovisual content and distribution matters. It grants licenses to broadcasters, registers VOD services and systematically monitors compliance with the rules on programme quota, advertising, sponsoring, product placement and other commercial communication, and the protection of minors.
- three national public broadcasting (PSB) TV channels
- several regional PSB TV channels
- approximately 300 local PSB TV channels
- 500+ commercial licensed TV programs (including around 10 main national private channels, many satellite channels, and text TV services)
- providers of VOD services
- radio channels (both PSB and private service providers)
- secondary activities of PSB
We have several formal instruments of enforcement:
- Issue cease and desist order
- Impose administrative fine (maximum of € 225.000)
- Give instruction to replace management or supervisory directors
- Reclaim or reduce financial public media budget contributions
- Reduce or withdraw broadcasting airtime (PSM) or revoke license (commercial media)
If a sanction decision is not complied with, the Dutch Media Authority can impose additional penalties.
Board of Commissioners
The Dutch Media Authority is led by a Board of Commissioners. This board is appointed by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Media. The board has three members.
Commercial broadcasters and on-demand media service providers
When a commercial media service provider falls under the jurisdiction of the Netherlands a license (in case of a broadcasting service) or registration (in case of an on-demand service) by the Dutch Media Authority will be required. ‘Commercial’ does not automatically imply that the media service should be aiming to make profits or contain advertising or other commercial communication. It just means that the service is not provided by a public service media provider. The same goes for the on-demand media services.
After a commercial broadcaster is being licensed by the Dutch Media Authority frequency space can be requested by the Radiocommunications Authority (in Dutch: Agentschap Telecom (AT)) or an agreement on distribution concluded with a cable operator or other distributor. The media service provider is obliged to pay the Dutch Media Authority a yearly fee related to the costs of supervision. In the Brochure Commercial Broadcast Services, you will find more detailed information.
Commercial on-demand media services
If users can select the moment they want to watch items from a video catalog it should be considered as a commercial on-demand media service (in Dutch: commerciële mediadienst op aanvraag (cmoa)). This media offer should consist of moving images with or without audio. A provider should notify its on-demand media service within 2 weeks from its start with the Dutch Media Authority. Also for on-demand media services, a yearly fee related to the costs of supervision need to be paid to the Dutch Media Authority. In the Brochure Commercial media services on-demand, you will find more detailed information.
The exact amount that should be paid yearly as a compensation for the costs of supervision depends on factors such as the nature of the service (radio, TV of text TV), the technical (potential) reach, the market share, the geographical coverage (Netherlands or other countries) and the duration of the broadcasts.
Links to policy guidelines
To explain more the legislate framework the Dutch Media Authority can adopt guidelines, these are purely meant as an elaboration of existing rules and cannot introduce new obligations.
Policy guidelines for providers of commercial broadcasting or on-demand media services:
It goes without saying that national media legislation is more and more affected by international legislation and policies. The vast majority of this international media regulation is originating from the EU legislator in Brussels.
The European Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive) requires the EU-Member States to impose minimum rules (minimum harmonization), to guarantee the free exchange of media services within the EU. Since this is minimum harmonization EU Member States are authorized to impose more detailed or stricter rules on their domestic services. As a consequence, national media legislation in the different Member States are more and more similar and need to be coordinated, just as the oversight policies.
In addition, media companies on a larger more international scale provide the same services at the same time in a number of countries. Global players such as Google, YouTube, Yahoo, and Apple have also entered the audiovisual media sector and compete directly and fiercely with traditional media companies. Also, these trends emphasize the need for more international coordination and collaboration between national media authorities in Europe.
The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Regulators (ERGA) is the advisory body consisting of the heads and high-level representatives of the EU national regulatory authorities for audiovisual media services, established by a decision of the European Commission of 3 February 2014.
Its tasks are:
- To advise and assist the Commission, in its work to ensure a consistent implementation in all Member States of the regulatory framework for audiovisual media services;
- To assist and advise the Commission, as to any matter related to audiovisual media services within the Commission’s competence.
- To provide for an exchange of experience and good practice as to the application of the regulatory framework for audiovisual media services;
- To cooperate and provide its members with the information necessary for the application of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
Our former chair, Prof. Dr. Madeleine de Cock Buning, was in 2016 and 2017 chair of ERGA.
In 2016 ERGA published four expert reports on material and territorial jurisdiction, on the independence of national regulatory authorities, and on the protection of minors. These reports consisted of concrete advice to the European Commission regarding the revision of the directive for audiovisual media services. In its proposal to revise this directive of May 2016, the European Commission referred to ERGA’s advice, stating: “ERGA has made a positive contribution towards consistent regulatory practice and has provided high-level advice to the Commission on implementation matters. This calls for the formal recognition and reinforcement of its role in this Directive. Therefore, the group should be re-established by virtue of this Directive.”
The legislation process to adopt a revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive is still ongoing.
The European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) was set up in 1995 and acts as a platform for an exchange of information, cases and best practices on experts working-level between broadcasting regulators in Europe. Unlike is the case for ERGA the membership of EPRA is not limited to the EU Member States. At present, 52 regulatory authorities from 46 countries are members of EPRA and the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media are standing Observers of the Platform. EPRA has an informal character. Its statutes expressly prohibit the adoption of common positions or declarations. EPRA holds two meetings a year at the invitation of a regulatory authority.
On Tuesday November 6, 2018 the Council of Ministers of the European Union has adopted the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The new directive contains various provisions which were proposed by ERGA, the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services. Protection of young people in the online domain and independence of media supervisory authorities have been given a more prominent place in the directive.
Download our news release European Audiovisual Media Services Directive: Online protection of young people and independence of media supervision.