Complaints procedure

The NPO ombudsman is independent and impartial. The ombudsman follows and examines the journalistic programming and publications 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 programming on radio, television or online that fall within the genres of news, sports, current affairs, events and opinion. Here is as a list of examples of TV programming from the first quarter of 2019 that the ombudsman can look into.

If you believe that a program, reporter or editor from one of the public broadcasters have not acted according to the public service’s journalistic code, you can do the following. First of all, you can contact the broadcaster or program editor(s). Find contact details of the broadcasters on this list.

If  you are not satisfied with the way in which the broadcaster or editor addressed your complaint or with the answer you received, then e-mail to ombudsman@npo.nl. You can also contact the ombudsman directly via this e-mail address. In order to be able to fully investigate your complaint, she will always contact the editors of the program or the broadcaster.

Complaints need to comply with some rules:

  • Your complaint should be about a journalistic production (i.e. in a program or article on radio, television or online) by one of the public broadcasters.
  • Make sure your complaint is motivated, and state your name. Anonymous complaints will not 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 complaints are forwarded directly to the relevant broadcaster. If the ombudsman examines your complaint, you will be notified.
  • There are time limits broadcaster and ombudsman have to adhere to. You can find these in the comprehensive complaints procedure. If an investigation takes longer than the maximum time frame, the ombudsman will let you know.
  • Rulings and investigations by the ombudsman  will be published on the website. You as a complainant 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 extension of the famous Code of Bordeaux of 1954.

The Dutch Press Council issued standards for correct journalistic behaviour and good journalistic practice. Read more here.

You may also file a complaint with an independent judge.