At the beginning of this century, the Netherlands were a classic example of Democratic Corporatist model (Hallin & Mancini, 2004): A high circulation of newspapers and magazines, moderate TV viewing (compared to other countries), a dominant public broadcasting model that was protected by government and warm relations between political parties and dominant media.
In the last 15 years, this situation changed dramatically. Online media are now the most used media by the Dutch population, with Facebook leading the pack. Traditional TV watching has gone down in the past two years, while the use of ‘delayed’ watching and services like Netflix and YouTube has gone up. The Dutch still watched three hours of traditional TV every day in 2016.
Newspaper circulation and - consequently newspaper reading - is going down as far as printed newspapers are concerned. Nevertheless, newspaper readership is relatively high. In 2015, the percentage of the population aged 13 and older reading a printed newspaper every day, dropped below 50 percent for the first time.
Press concentration is high. In 2015 there were eight publishers left, the majority of newspapers being in foreign (Belgian) hands. In 2016 a new takeover was announced that will result in 80 percent of the total circulation of 3m newspapers (including free ones) owned by two Belgian publishers - De Persgroep and Mediahuis. Both publishers also dominate their home market.
Press-concentration has lead to waves of layoffs in print media. Budget cuts in public broadcasting has also resulted in fewer jobs for professional journalists.
The market for traditional print media in terms of copies sold is declining, also the position on the advertising market is weaker than before. But income from readers has increased over the years. Total revenue, however has declined because of the weak advertising market for newspapers. Publishers, however, still do make a healthy – two-digit – profit on printed newspapers.
TV - public and commercial broadcasting - takes a major part of advertising revenues. The printed press is losing its market share quite fast, newspapers now count for less than 20 percent of advertising revenues. The share of Google and Facebook in advertising, however, is a guess.
De-regulation is a major policy change: The fixed levels of press concentration have been dropped, government is more open to commercial broadcasting expansion - for instance in radio - and sets limits to the presence of public broadcasting online. The subsidies on public broadcasting have dropped in the last years. National and regional broadcasters have been forced to merge their operations.
The media market for is declining in terms of copies sold and the advertising market is also weaker than before. But income from readers has increased over the years. Regardless of the decline in total revenues because of the weak advertising market for newspapers, publishers still do make a healthy (two-digit) profit on printed newspapers.
Political parallelism has declined because of the professionalisation of the trade, of the changing political landscape (with less powerful traditional parties tied with broadcasters or printed media) and the rise of commercial broadcasting, with strong positions for RTL and SBS. A major part of printed and broadcast media are now in foreign hands.
Journalistic professionalism has increased over the last decades; the most challenging issues are commercialism and entrepreneurship as jobs in traditional media are not as available as they were twenty years ago. Almost every journalist in the Netherlands either went to a vocational Journalism School or studied at university.
State intervention in the media system in terms of censorship is lacking in the Netherlands; because of the country’s pillarised media system, the government usually avoids direct intervention. However, relaxing anti-cartel laws or budget cuts at public broadcasting also can have an effect on media performance.