The Media Act (2008)concerns the organisational structure, funding principles and operational scope of the Dutch public broadcasting system, which is composed of the NPO (Nederlandse Publieke Omroep) as an umbrella organisation with a coordinating task, and several public broadcasters who produce the content. The act regulates how the budget for the public broadcasting task is provided and allocated, but is also concerns the basic requirements for commercial broadcasters and obligations for providers of television and radio packages (like cable operators). The commercial broadcasters, for example, are not allowed to broadcast sponsored news and at least 40 percent of the programmes must be produced in the Dutch or Frisian language. Providers of digital television and radio packages are obliged to offer at least 30 television channels and a number of radio channels, including the Dutch and Belgian public channels. Furthermore, the Media Act contains regulations for the protection of minors and establishes the independent Dutch Media Authority.
In 2016, the Media Act (2008) was amended in order to make the public broadcasting system future-proof in times of on-demand watching and a declining income (due to budget cuts and less revenue from advertisements). An important measure was that programmes should have an educational, informative or cultural goal instead of being solely entertainment. The amendment also gave the NPO more responsibility regarding the course of the whole public broadcasting system. Furthermore, the collaboration between national broadcasters and regional broadcasters should be intensified in order to compensate for the declining reach of the regional broadcasters and to strengthen journalism in the region.
The Council for Culture, the legal advisory body of the government, published a report in 2018 stating that the Dutch broadcasters (public and commercial) must cooperate better to prevent themselves from perishing in international competition. That same year, the Minister of Media, Arie Slob, announced there will be new legislation on media with new measures in order to ensure that the public broadcasting system is able to play its important and relevant role in the future Dutch information market (see chapter 2.5.3 for more on the Dutch public broadcasting system).
In 1997, in order to protect minors from harmful content, a system of self-regulation was developed by the Dutch Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media. The Kijkwijzer(Viewing Indicator) warns parents and educators if a television program or film can be harmful to children. There is an age indication (all ages, 6+, 9+, 12+ and 16+) and pictograms that signify the reason for this indication (violence, fear, sex, discrimination, drug and/or alcohol abuse and foul language). These indicators are used for music videos, computer games and websites as well. The age indications are connected with television broadcast times: programmes for all ages, 6+ and 9+ may be broadcasted anytime, while 12+ and 16+ programmes are broadcast after 8 PM or 10 PM respectively.
On the basis of Article 4 of the Media Act (2008), public and commercial broadcasters are obliged to apply the Kijkwijzer if they want to broadcast programmes that are potentially harmful to children. The age indicators are meant as an advice annex tool for parents and educators in the private sphere. However, in public spaces such as the cinema, the government has granted a legal consequence to the age limits of Kijkwijzer. The cinema admission policy is based on Article 240a of the Criminal Code.