Complaints Procedure

The Ombudsman is independent and impartial as described in the Statuut Ombudsman (Dutch). The Ombudsman follows and examines the journalistic practice and product by the Dutch Public Broadcasters. Also, the ombudsman can examine and investigate complaints made by the public.

The Ombudsman’s authority does not cover all programming by the public broadcasters, only the journalistic practice and product on radio, television or online that fall within the genres of news, information and education. 

If you believe that a program, reporter or editor from one of the public broadcasters has not acted according to the public service’s Code Journalistiek Handelen, you can do the following: you can contact the broadcaster or program editor(s) by mail. They have six weeks to react. If you are not satisfied with the way in which the broadcaster or editor addressed your complaint or with the answer you received, then you can fill out the contactform. In order to be able to fully investigate your complaint, we will always contact the editors of the program or the broadcaster.

Complaints need to comply with some rules:

  • Your question or complaint should be about a journalistic production (i.e. in a program or article on radio, television or online) or method by one of the public broadcasters.
  • Make sure your question or complaint is motivated, and state your name. Anonymous complaints cannot be considered. Neither will trolling, cursing or scolding be tolerated.
  • If you already complained to a program or broadcaster but are not satisfied with the answer, please include your correspondence with the program or the broadcaster.
  • You will always receive a return receipt message from the ombudsman. Not all complaints can or will be investigated. Some are forwarded directly to the relevant broadcaster. If the ombudsman examines your complaint, you will be notified.
  • There is a time limit to submitting a complaint with the ombudsman. And there are time limits for handling of a complaint to which broadcaster and ombudsman have to adhere to. You can find these in the comprehensive complaints procedure. If an investigation takes longer than the maximum allocated time frame, the ombudsman will let you know.
  • Rulings and investigations by the ombudsman can be published on the website. You as a complainant and the program or reporter will be notified by e-mail.

Read more about the Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists. This is a set of rules about the journalistic method to which journalists are expected to adhere to. The code was adopted in June 2019 in Tunis by The International Federation of Journalists and is an update of the famous Code of Bordeaux of 1954.

The Dutch Press Council issued standards for correct journalistic behavior and good journalistic practice. You can also file a complaint with the Press Council, but only if you are a stakeholder in a production or program.

You may also file a complaint with an independent judge.

Relevant links
Statuut Ombudsman NPO (Dutch)
Code Journalistiek Handelen (Dutch)
Contact Dutch public broadcasters
Comprehensive complaints procedure
Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists
Dutch Press Council (Dutch)