Procedure to complain
The procedure to file a complaint is very accessible; the complainant just has to send his complaint in writing to the office of the Press Council. No charge is made. Legal representation is permitted, not compulsory. After a complaint is received the journalist or chief-editor involved will be asked to respond on the complaint in writing within three weeks. Then in most cases a public hearing will be arranged.
The Press Council is convinced that the best way of dealing with the complaints is to hear both parties, if possible. However, parties are not obliged to appear. In practice it occurs that both parties attend the hearing, that only the complainant or the journalist is present, or that both parties are absent.
During the hearing both parties may explain their points of view. Further the hearing gives the Press Council the opportunity to ask questions and to explain the standards of journalistic ethics and the circumstances in which these standards must be realised.
The Press Council deals with an average of four to five complaints per hearing. At its sessions the chamber of the Press Council consists of at least three and not more than five members: a chairman and a proportional amount of journalist members and non-journalist members (1/1 or 2/2). If one of the members is suddenly unable to attend, the Press Council may deal with a case with four members if the parties present approve.
After the hearing the Press Council considers the case behind closed doors. The definite decision will be sent to both parties within eight weeks after the hearing. In its decision the Press Council asks the journalist or mass medium in question to publish the decision.