The origin of the Press Council in the Netherlands leads back to 1948. In that year the Netherlands Union of Journalists founded the 'Raad van Tucht’, a disciplinary council, which functioned as a kind of Press Council until 1960. The competence of this disciplinary council extended only to members of the Netherlands Union of Journalists. In case of bad professional conduct the disciplinary council could impose one of the following sanctions: warning, rebuke,suspension,or expulsion as member of this Union. During the twelve years of its functioning the disciplinary council came to a judgement in fifteen cases.
An incident led to the institution of our present Press Council, the ‘Raad voor de Journalistiek’. What happened? A journalist of a daily paper had published an article about a government statement, presented to the press under embargo. The journalist did not accept the embargo, because he already knew the content of this statement from his own sources. In reaction to this event the government excluded this journalist during one year from all information on the part of the government. The Prime Minister declared, when asked for his opinion in Parliament, that the government could not accept the disciplinary council judging this question, because the council was only competent to judge the members of the Netherlands Union of Journalists. So, if a journalist ended his membership, the disciplinary council lost its competence to examine the complaint and to make a statement. In reaction to this attitude of the government the Netherlands Union of Journalists reformed the disciplinary council into a council of opinion in 1960. This Press Council was given competence with regard to all journalistic practice, including the practice of non-organised journalists (in the Netherlands Union of Journalists).