Why does the RVD frequently decline to report measures taken in response to specific violations of the Media Code?

Journalists regularly contact the RVD to ask if specific photographs can be published. If the photograph in question depicts its subjects in a private situation and there is no legal justification for infringing on their private life, the RVD will advise against publication.

As the courts have ruled on various occasions, the only legal justification for publication is that the publication of the photograph constitutes a contribution to public debate on a matter of public interest.

Please note that the latter is not necessarily synonymous with ‘newsworthiness’. If Queen Máxima takes her children to the beach, some in the media would regard that fact as newsworthy. But according to the courts, the publication of pictures of a family trip to the beach makes no contribution to public debate on a matter of public interest and therefore does not constitute a legal justification for the infringement of the subjects’ privacy.

The RVD is always on hand to advise journalists about the publication of photographs or film footage. The media can then decide for themselves whether they should be published/broadcast. In the Netherlands it is ultimately the courts and not the RVD that decide whether publication is lawful.

If a media outlet decides, against the advice of the RVD, to publish a photograph, the RVD generally will not respond directly to questions from other media about whether it plans to take action. By responding to third parties the RVD would be contributing to a public discussion, which could give other media more grounds to publish the photo in question. This is not in the interest of the photo’s subject whose private life is at issue.

Of course, if questioned directly, the RVD will always inform third parties that it has advised against the publication of a particular photo.