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Population: 17.2 million
Internet penetration: 95%

The Netherlands continue to be dominated by a strong PSB and two Belgian-owned media companies, and there is risk of further media consolidation. The past year was marked by an investigation into workplace safety within the PSB. A former Instagram meme page has turned into a popular news source for young people, raising concerns about misinformation and polarisation.

The Dutch media landscape continues to be characterised by a high degree of media concentration. Three players dominate the media market: public service broadcaster NOS and two Belgian publishers DPG Media and Mediahuis, which together own the majority of the Dutch newspapers.

Further market consolidation seems imminent, as DPG Media signed an agreement with the RTL Group to acquire RTL Nederland and streaming platform Videoland for €1.1bn. Already the largest media company in the Netherlands, this move would add the TV market to DPG Media’s activities in print, radio, and online. The Netherlands Competition Authority (ACM) has yet to approve the acquisition. Previously, in 2023, the regulator blocked RTL’s acquisition of Talpa Network (which includes SBS TV), arguing that the merger would make RTL powerful enough to set TV advertising rates. However, since DPG Media currently does not own any Dutch television stations, their acquisition of RTL is likely to be approved. Meanwhile, Mediahuis plans a major reorganisation, merging its different branches Mediahuis Nederlands, Mediahuis Limburg, and Mediahuis Noord into one organisation. Critics have voiced concerns about this wave of takeovers and mergers, asking for guarantees that the editorial independence and the plurality of the news will be safeguarded.1

Most (commercial) online news brands have a freemium business model, presenting their premium content behind a paywall in the hopes of attracting subscribers. DPG Media also bundles their content: anyone subscribing to one of their titles gets additional access to ten other (national and regional) newspapers under the DPG umbrella.

In addition to remaining the top brand offline (no. 1) and online (no. 2) in terms of access, as well as the number 1 most trusted brand among those included in our survey, public news service NOS continues to successfully reach younger audiences on social media. Most notably, on Instagram, both their main account NOS and their initiative aimed specifically at 13-to-18-year-olds NOS Stories have – respectively – near and over a million followers. On YouTube, NOS op 3 is especially popular: this channel dedicated to weekly 10–20 minutes explainer videos has around half a million followers. However, on Instagram, the mysterious player ‘cestmocro’ has also grown very popular, passing its millionth follower in the past year. It is still unclear who is behind this initiative. Starting out as a meme page in 2017, it has since pivoted to news, mainly reposting (with credit) and summarising content from mainstream sources such as NOS, RTL Nieuws, CNN, and Al Jazeera. However, ‘cestmocro’ has also been criticised for occasionally posting misinformation and failing to moderate hateful reactions in the comment section. Faced with criticism for adopting a one-sided, pro-Palestine perspective on the Israel-Hamas war, ‘cestmocro’ responded that they ‘choose the perspective of the repressed and not the oppressor’.2

Despite three sanctions for spreading disinformation and bringing the Dutch public broadcaster into disrepute, the Secretary of Culture and Media had decided against revoking the licence of aspirant PSB Ongehoord Nederland (ON) (Unheard Netherlands). Claiming to give a voice to those unrepresented by existing broadcasters and to add a ‘critical voice’ on such issues as globalisation and immigration, ON became an ‘aspirant’ broadcaster in 2022, guaranteeing them public funding and airtime. Its run has been riddled with controversy, with their early broadcasts drawing formal complaints about disinformation and racism. The NPO – the umbrella administrative body for all public broadcasting services in the Netherlands – was allowed to request revocation of ON’s licence after the third sanction, but the Secretary argued the problems weren’t ‘manifest and structural’ enough to justify a revocation.

In early 2024, the Investigative Committee on the Conduct and Culture of Broadcasters released their report on workplace safety and culture at the Dutch public broadcaster NPO. After sexual misconduct at commercial broadcasters was reported in 2022, the following year saw high-profile scandals at the NPO, including workplace bullying at a popular daily talk show, and bullying, (sexual) intimidation, and discrimination at the sports division of PSB news channel NOS. The report concluded that unacceptable behaviour is widespread at the NPO, with 75% of their respondents indicating they have been a victim or a witness in the past year. The committee's recommendations included paying more attention to developing leadership skills, avoiding temporary contracts, and professionalising HR.3

Tim Groot Kormelink and Kenza Lamot
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Changing media

Public service broadcaster NOS and free, ad-driven news site maintain their dominance. While Facebook has decreased as a news source, video-focused platforms YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are slightly up.

Pay for online news


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Trust in news overall



Trust in news has been fairly stable over the past year, although a slight drop (3pp) causes the Netherlands to drop five spots to ninth in the overall country rankings. Despite several scandals at the public service broadcaster, NOS Nieuws continues to rank as the most trusted source among those included in our survey.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 87.73

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at


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