An Overview of the Dutch Media Culture

One of the most densely populated countries in Europe, the Netherlands currently has a population of more than 16 million people. Its national language is called Dutch, and so are its people. This term was initially used to refer to both Germans and the people of Netherlands, but after the latter gained their independence in the 17th century, they kept it.

Any country’s media culture is a window to its people, and Dutch media culture is no different. It comes as no surprise that a country with such a dense population has a number of media outlets.


Even with rapidly increasing numbers of internet users, Dutch television is still going strong as the most used Dutch media outlet.  With the average Dutch person spending more than 3 hours daily on the TV, its audience has been increasing since 2007. Before commercial TV, the Dutch only spent over two hours on television 20 years ago. After increasing to three hours in 2003 and two hours and 27 minutes in 2007 there was a drop in viewership in 2008. However, the numbers rose up again, showing how successful Dutch TV still is in the age of the internet.


It is said that the very first Dutch radio program was broadcasted in 1919 from Scheveningen, Netherlands. The radio was originally controlled by the government but control was gained in the 1920s by public organizations. It is still in operation but a number of organizations have procured a broadcasting license, in addition to a solid joint national program by the NOS, or Nederlandse Omroep Stichting.

Print Media:

Half of today’s Dutch homes pay to read newspapers, which makes 3.5 million copies daily. Other than that, upwards of a million are distributed for free consumption daily. Looking back a decade ago, the readers for paid newspapers were 4.2 million and the free newspaper had 500,000 copies given out daily. On an average basis, an approximate two-thirds of the total population is known to read a newspaper, of which sixty percent pay to read theirs. More than a decade ago in 2002-3, a whopping 76 percent of the population read a newspaper daily, of which 71 percent bought their newspaper.


These statistics may not seem overly great but when you consider that we are talking about watching TV, listening to the radio, and reading newspapers in an age where media is consumed so much more easily via the internet, it’s impressive how developed the Dutch media culture really is.