‘Free’ is the word in Dutch

The 2007 Report on the Dutch Media by the official Dutch Media Council (Commissariaat voor de Media) the word ‘gratis’ (free) can be found no less than 60 times (106 pages in total).

The most important conclusion on readership and media-use in general is that young people use and prefer ‘free’ news, either on websites, television or in free newspapers.

On the graph (click on it for bigger picture) the youngest groups (’tot 35 jaar’) spend just little more than 10% of their media-time on paid news; almost 40% is spend on pubic broadcasting; the rest on commercial broadcasting, websites and free newspapers.

For the oldest group (’55 jaar en ouder’) the media-use is rather different: 25% on paid news and 50% on public broadcasting.

Free news reaches all groups now than then: almost 80% of the Dutch population, with no big differences between age groups. Public broadcasting, however, is far more used by the older group (91% against 65% for youngest group), while paid news is used far less by the younger group (31% against 70% of oldest group).

26 news-brands have a reach of 5% or more; only 4 of these are printed media, the two paid papers De Telegraaf and AD and free dailies Metro and Spits. As can predicted: the free titles are more popular in the youngest group, the paid titles in the oldest.

The Council seems somewhat worried about this development as these free media offer very little background and opinions based on arguments.

When the study was conducted there still were four national free papers, since two months there are only three: Metro, Spits and De Pers. Metro and Spits are second and third in readership in the Netherlands, each reaching around 14% of the population on a daily basis. De Pers is 6th.

Not only free papers are distributed free of charge; on average almost 5% of the circulation of paid papers is free as well. There are, however, substantial differences. Two papers: Het Parool and NRC.next distribute more than 20% of their circulation free of charge. (In total more than 30% of the total Dutch newspaper circulation in 2007 was free.)

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