THE FACTS The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows: The applicant, a Netherlands Company with its seat in Amsterdam, is represented by Mr. S. K. Martens a lawyer practising in The Hague. The applicant company is a publisher of "General Interest Magazines" in the Netherlands and also a member of the "Groep Publicksbladen" consisting of such publishers. It claims to be a victim of an oppressive legal and factual situation arising from a combination of the interpretation placed upon Article 10 of the 1912 Netherlands Copyright Act (Auteurswet) by the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) of the Netherlands in its judgment of 1 March 1976 (Omroepwet) together with the Royal Decree of 1 April 1969 (Omroep Besluit). The applicant company submits that its present application is, in some respects, a sequel to Application No 2690/65 (1) N. V. Televizier v. the Netherlands. It will be recalled that, in that case, the applicant company, publisher of a weekly magazine containing details of forthcoming broadcasts, was sued for breach of copyright by an organisation called the Centraal Bureau voor den Omroep in Nederland and various broadcasting corporations. The applicant company finally brought the case before the Commission which decided on 15 December 1966, that the application was admissible under Articles 10 and 14 of the Convention. However, subsequently, on 3 October 1968, the Commission struck the case off the list after the applicant company had withdrawn the application and the respondent Government had indicated its agreement. It appeared that the relevant provisions of the 1912 Copyright Act, on which the proceedings against the applicant company were based, had been replaced by the Broadcasting Act of 1967 and the Royal Decree of 1969, that the proceedings against the applicant company were discontinued, and that the magazine "Televizier" was absorbed into one of the five major broadcasting companies on advantageous terms. ----------------------------------------- (1) Collection of Decisions No 21, p. 90 ----------------------------------------- In support of its present application, the applicant company first gives an outline of the broadcasting legislation which entered into force on 29 May 1969. Articles 13 and 14 of the Broadcasting Act specify certain criteria by which a " broadcasting organisation" (omroeporganisatie) might be recognised. In addition, Article 39 of the Act creates a national corporation, the Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation (Nederlandse Omroep Stichting = N.O.S.) as an "organ for co-operation of the broadcasting organisations". Under Article 27 of that Act these various organisations fall into one of three classes for the purpose of allocating broadcasting time depending on the size of their registered membership. Article 23 of the 1967 Act and Article 13 of the Royal Decree prescribe that any broadcasting organisation to which time has been allocated must send the relevant data concerning their programmes to the N.O.S. Article 23 also provides that the N.O.S. may only make available the "complete programme data" for publication to broadcasting organisations to which broadcasting time has been allocated. When the "complete programme data" have been approved by the NOS and forwarded to the broadcasting organisations, Article 14 of the Decree specifies that the said organisations may publish the data in their Programme Magazines which Article 14 (3) defines as being "a weekly, that is edited by or under instructions of a broadcasting organisation or applicant broadcasting organisation and that in principle is only intended for its members or contributors ..." Article 15 of the Decree makes provision for the programme data to be summarised by the NOS once a week and for this summary to be made available to daily papers and newspapers which appear at least three times a week in the Netherlands. Article 16 of the Decree provides for such summaries also to be made available to foreign broadcasting organisations and to editors of foreign papers. Finally, Article 22 of the 1967 Broadcasting Act provides that any "reproduction or publication of lists or other statements of those programmes otherwise than on behalf of or with authorization of the Corporation" constitutes a breach of copyright and entails civil liability. The applicant company submits that, on 28 October 1969 it petitioned the NOS with a request that either all programme data be made available for publication in its "General Interest Magazine" or, alternatively, that NOS should negotiate to permit the applicant to publish a "Programme Magazine" on behalf of NOS. By a letter of 9 December 1969 NOS rejected the first request on the basis of Articles 22 and 23 of the 1967 Act and dismissed the alternative as contrary to the spirit of Article 23 of the Act in conjunction with Article 14 the Royal Decree. The applicant company, regarding the NOS as "an administrative organ of the central Government" for the purpose of Articles 1 and 2 of the Act for Appeal from Administrative Decrees (Wet Beroep Administratieve Beschikkingen), lodged an appeal in conformity with the above Appeals act to the Queen. The appeal alleged that Article 23 of the Broadcasting Act should not be construed as forbidding NOS to make available programme data to "General Interest Magazines", and that the provisions of the broadcasting legislation violated Articles 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The appeal was declared inadmissible by a Royal Decree dated 8 April 1971 on the grounds that the NOS could not be deemed to be "an administrative organ of the central Government" as it was not vested with any public authority but was the co-operation body of the broadcasting organisations which are independent private-law legal persons. Complaints The applicant company now complains to the Commission that both the Supreme Court's interpretation of Article 10 of the Netherlands Copyright Act in its judgment of 25 June 1965 and particularly the legislation regarding the publication of radio and television programme data is inconsistent with Article 10 of the Convention and amounts to discrimination within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention. The applicant company maintains above that Article 22 of the 1967 Broadcasting Act has created, in favour of the Broadcasting organisations, an absolute right or monopoly regarding the publication of programme data. This clearly violates their right freely to receive an impart information as well as the right of the public to be advised on the oncoming programmes by impartial publications. The applicant company further alleges that in any event the law regarding copyright has been changed greatly to the disadvantage of publishers of "General Interest Magazines" in several ways. For instance, under Article 10 of the Copyright Act copyright existed for programme writings only and not for programme data, and by the judgment of the Netherlands Supreme Court of 25 June 1965 only "... with respect to writings without distinctive or personal character ... if they have been published or if they are meant to be published". However, the new legislation has, inter alia, removed these qualifications in the 1965 judgment and thus even the "avant-programme" data of the broadcasting organisations, which are never used for publication, may now be covered by copyright. Furthermore, prior to the 1967 Act and the Royal Decree the burden of proof lay upon those broadcasting organisations seeking to prove an infringement of copyright. The Broadcasting Act has reversed this burden, thus imposing the obligation on those who publish to prove that their material does not breach another's copyright. In the applicant company's submission the general effect of this legislation on the publishers of General Interest Magazines has been severe. The broadcasting organisations have developed their Programme Magazines into attractive publications of a "general interest" format, offering precisely the same reading as the "General Interest Magazines", including topical information and comment, sports, amusements, stories, puzzles etc., in addition to the complete radio and television programmes which have considerable "news value". It was true that Article 20 of the NOS Statute seeks to prevent this very trend, and the applicant company has allegedly complained to the Minister responsible, concerning observance of Article 20, but without success. In consequence the circulation figures of the "General Interest Magazines" are dwindling. In addition, advertisers, noticing the increasing popularity of the "Programme Magazines" which now enjoy, in effect, a monopoly of broadcasting data, are shifting their orders away from "General Interest Magazines" thus causing a further threat to such publications. The applicant company's allegations can thus be summarised as follows: 1. The interpretation placed upon Article 10 of the 1912 Copyright Act by the Netherlands Supreme Court in its judgment of 25 June 1965 concerning programme writings "without distinctive or personal character" constitutes a violation of Articles 10 and 14 of the Convention. In this connection the applicant refers to the submissions of the applicant in Application No 2690/65, N. V. Televizier v. the Netherlands, which it fully endorses. 2. The absolute right to publish "complete programme data" conferred on the broadcasting organisations by the NOS in its interpretation of the Broadcasting Act and the Decree of 1969 constitutes a breach of Article 10 of the Convention. It imposes a restriction on the free circulation of impartial information concerning news and other broadcasting programmes which is unjustifiable in a democratic society. Furthermore, the exceptions provided for in Article 10 (2) of the Convention are inapplicable in this case for the following reasons: neither the Broadcasting Act nor the Royal Decree are intended as a law within the meaning of that provision; furthermore the phrase "rights of others" in that paragraph may only refer to rights protected by the Convention and the monopoly of programme data cannot be regarded as such a right; finally, and in the alternative, the national legislator is not at liberty to create "rights of others" which are not "necessary in a democratic society" and granting an absolute right to publish such information as programme data to a restricted group is certainly contrary to the principles of a democratic society. 3. The aforementioned inequality in the competitive positions of the "Programme Magazines" and the "General Interest Magazines", arising from the broadcasting legislation, violates Article 14 of the Convention. 4. The distinction in Article 15 of the Royal Decree of 1969 between publishers of daily and three-times-weekly papers and the "General Interest Magazines", such that the former are permitted to publish a summary of programme data whereas the latter are not, is discriminatory and violates Article s 10 and 14 of the Convention. 5. The permission granted by Article 16 of the Royal Decree of 1969 to "General Interest Magazines" abroad to publish summaries of the programme data is discriminatory and violates Articles 10 and 14 of the Convention. The applicant company finally submits that no further domestic remedies are available to it in the Netherlands but proposes to elaborate further on this point if this should be required. It requests the Commission to accept the present application and to ensure that the respondent Government stop the alleged violations of the Convention by taking such measures as will make available the complete programme data to the applicant company for publication in its "General Interest Magazines" and/or in such other magazines as it may deem fit, possibly against payment of a fair and reasonable remuneration. PROCEEDINGS A group of three members of the Commission considered the application on 2 October 1972 and was unanimously of the opinion that, in the present state of the file, it appeared to be admissible. Consequently, the President of the Commission on the same date made an order in accordance with Rule 45, 2 of the Commission's Rules of Procedure that notice of the application should be given to the Netherlands Government who should be invited to submit to the Commission their observations in writing on its admissibility. The Government submitted such observations on 21 February 1973 and the applicant company's lawyer replied on 15 June 1973. SUBMISSIONS OF THE PARTIES 1. The respondent Government first submitted that, insofar as the applicant company referred to arguments put forward in Application No 2690/65 (Televizier v. the Netherlands), without repeating them in this application, they could not be discussed here. Moreover, the present case was different insofar as, contrary to the Televizier Case, the present applicant sought to force the Netherlands Government to take measures whereby the broadcasting organisations and the NOS should be compelled to release data which they possessed. The Government then outlined the history and the present state of the broadcasting legislation as well as the actual situation in the Netherlands. Thus, under the Telecommunication Act (Telegraf- en Telefoonwet) 1904, as amended in 1928, the existence of broadcasting organisations, whose object was the transmission of wireless broadcasts and who were established in the 1920's, was formally accepted. Transmission time was allocated to these broadcasting organisations if they could show that their aim was to satisfy the cultural or religious needs felt among the people to such an extent that their transmissions would, on that account, be deemed as serving the common good. During World War II the occupation authorities set up a State-owned enterprise, but after the war the private broadcasting organisations returned and resumed their transmission. Under temporary regulations the transmissions were financed by levying a radio-licence fee. All other expenses of the broadcasting organisations were covered by contributions from their members, either in the form of subscriptions to the organisation's weekly magazines or as simple contributions. This system was incorporated in the Broadcasting Act 1967 which came into effect on 29 May 1969. The respondent Government next turned to the two basic ideas on which the Netherlands broadcasting system was founded namely the principle of openness of the system and the requirement of co-operation within the system. As regards the principle of openness the Government explained that the number of members of or contributors to a particular broadcasting organisation, as established by means of periodic surveys, determined both the question of whether or not transmission time was at all to be allocated to that organisation and the amount of its transmission time. Using such criterion of numbers was fully in conformity with the principles of a democratic society and should be viewed within the context of the requirement laid down by Article 13 (2) (iii) in conjunction with Article 35 (2) of the Broadcasting Act, that for broadcasting organisations to receive a licence they should transmit a complete programme which should include at least elements of a cultural, informative, educational and entertaining nature in reasonable proportion. There were presently operating in the Netherlands seven such broadcasting organisations, two of which had only recently been granted transmission time. Dutch law also provided for so-called "prospective broadcasting organisations" who were allocated transmission time for a period not exceeding two years during which period they had the opportunity of developing into full-fledged broadcasting organisations. In addition, transmission time might also be granted to religious bodies, associations founded on ethical principles, political parties or other institutions who aimed at satisfying certain cultural, religious or spiritual needs felt among the people and not otherwise provided for by existing programmes (Articles 16-19 of the Broadcasting Act). The second requirement, that of co-operation, was satisfied in particular by the existence of the NOS, the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation, being a body within which all broadcasting organisations having obtained transmission time co-operated. The NOS acted as a coordinating body with the provision that it should not concern itself in any way with the preparation and composition of the programmes of the various organisations. Nevertheless, the NOS was responsible for featuring joint programmes for which it was granted transmission time of its own. Under Article 23 of the Broadcasting Act, the broadcasting organisations were required to make available to the NOS lists of the programmes which they proposed to broadcast. Such lists were normally sent about three weeks prior to the date of the broadcasts in question. The NOS added its own programme lists and sent the compilation to each of the broadcasting organisations. Furthermore, the NOS prepared a short summary of the lists submitted to it and sent it to the Netherlands Daily Newspaper Publishers' Association (Nederlandse Dagbladpers) and to the Netherlands Newspaper Publishers' Association (Nederlandse Niewsbladpers) for publication in the daily and other newspapers appearing in the Netherlands. A similar summary was also sent to a number of foreign broadcasting organisations, on a basis of reciprocity, for publication in their programme magazines. The Government submitted that the programme magazines published by the broadcasting organisations played an important part in the Netherlands broadcasting system. The seven organisations represented the various sections of society such as Liberals, Conservatives, Socialists, Protestants (both orthodox and liberal), Roman Catholics and Independents, and the number of the members of each broadcasting organisation determined its position within the system. The link between the organisations and their members was magazines, which thus also yielded the funds necessary for the organisation's broadcasting activities. Furthermore, such link was a natural one, as a person would choose a programme magazine published by the broadcasting organisation whose transmissions represented his own religious or ideological thoughts and objectives. After having thus described the system prevailing in the Netherlands, the respondent Government turned to the question of the admissibility of the present application. The Government noted that the applicant company not only requested the Commission to put an end to alleged violations of the Convention but also to require the Government to take such measures as would ensure that the complete programme data would become available to the applicant company for publication. Dealing first with the applicant's latter request, the Government maintained that such result was not contemplated by Article 10 (1) of the Convention. It was true that the right to freedom of expression included the freedom "to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers". This meant that, where information was offered or ideas were expressed, public authority might not prevent a person from receiving that information or taking cognisance of those ideas. However, the Convention did not give a person access to information or ideas which the holder wished to keep for himself or to make accessible only to certain persons of his choice and on his own conditions. As regards the applicant company's complaint under Article 10 as such the Government submitted that it was manifestly ill-founded. Indeed, the broadcasting organisations were fully entitled to refuse the disclosure of information concerning their programme to persons whom they did not wish to profit from their exertions, the more so as such programmes constituted the principal means by which the organisations could expound their message and give expression to their character. It was true that the law made special provision requiring that the complete programmes should be made available, via the NOS, to all broadcasting organisations who should be permitted to publish these programmes in their respective magazines. Nevertheless, under Article 23 of the Broadcasting Act and Article 14 of the Broadcasting Decree each organisation had the right itself to determine when, how, and to what extent its programmes should be published, and this right was protected under Article 22 of the said Act. The argument, that this protection might overstep the limits of copyright as it was generally understood was irrelevant for the purpose of answering the question whether or not Article 10 of the Convention had been violated. Indeed the protection of the right of broadcasting organisations to deny publication of their programmes to other persons was justified by the aims which it sought to achieve and had, in fact, achieved. In this context the Government also replied to certain allegations by the applicant company concerning the interpretation placed on Article 10 of the Copyright Act by the Netherlands Supreme Court. They submitted that the Broadcasting Act did not grant a monopoly on "data" but only protected programme writings, i.e. written statements or lists containing programme information. The Act was thus perfectly consistent with Article 10 of the Copyright Act and its interpretation by the Supreme Court, having regard to the legitimate interest of the broadcasting organisations in having the exclusive right to publish their programme lists and to use their publication in order to strengthen their ties with their members. On the other hand, the present application appeared to be inspired solely by the applicant company's wish to derive advantage, for its own benefit, by utilising for commercial purposes the results of other people's work. Yet, the applicant company's interests were sufficiently protected by measures restricting the sale of programme magazines to persons other than members of the broadcasting organisations, by requiring that programme magazines must confine their subject matter solely, or almost solely, to broadcasting, broadcasting organisations, and programmes, (e.g. the magazines may not publish other subject matters in excess of 10% of their total contents during a calender month, on a maximum of five pages of an issue which is cut in a format of about 26 x 36 cm), and by prohibiting broadcasting organisations to make their magazines look like general magazines or to combine them with such general magazines. Apart from this, the Government contended that, even if there were an interference with the applicant company's rights under Article 10 (1), such interference was justified as being "prescribed by law and ... necessary in a democratic society ... for the protection of the ... rights of others ..." within the meaning of Article 10 (2) of the Convention. The applicant's interpretation of the term "rights of others" in a sense that only rights protected by the Convention might enjoy protection under that provision of the Convention provided that they were, as in the present case, necessary in a democratic society. Moreover, the Government were unable to understand why the Broadcasting Act and the Broadcasting Decree which were enacted in accordance with normal legislative procedure under the Netherlands Constitution should not be considered as "laws" within the meaning of Article 10 (2) of the Convention. The Government lastly submitted that there could be no question of discrimination within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention as publication of the programme writings was not denied on any of the grounds mentioned in that Article, but on legitimate grounds of protecting the rights of others. For these reasons the respondent Government submitted that the application should be declared inadmissible as being manifestly ill-founded. 2. The applicant company, in its written observations of 15 June 1973, first pointed out that it maintained in full its original application and the arguments submitted therein. In summarising the present situation under the Netherlands broadcasting system the applicant submitted that the broadcasting organisations had become regular competitors of the editors of "General Interest Magazines" in that they were publishing "Programme Magazines" which for all practical purposes were quite equal to ordinary magazines except for the fact that the former contained the complete programme data which the latter were not allowed to publish. It was true that there were several provisions aimed at preventing "Programme Magazines" from assuming the character of "General Interest Magazines", but these were not observed by the broadcasting organisations and the Government undertook nothing to enforce these provisions. Indeed, this had been realised by Members of Parliament already when the Broadcasting Bill was discussed in Parliament. The allegation that membership in a broadcasting organisation reflected the members' religious or ideological thoughts was simply no longer true: market analyses had shown that in many cases it was not his preference for the political, religious or cultural principles for which the broadcasting organisation stood that determined the subscriber's choice, but rather the attractiveness of that organisation's "Programme Magazine". Consequently, since the number of members determined whether or not a broadcasting organisation was recognised as such and what broadcasting time should be allocated to it, it was natural that the organisations were striving for the favours of the public by using all means, and particularly by making their "Programme Magazine" as attractive as possible. In support of these allegations the applicant company submitted statistical data which had been collected by NIPO, a well known Dutch survey organisation, in November 1971. According to this survey, 75% of all persons questioned were subscribers to a programme magazine, of the Roman Catholic organisation (KRO), out of 100 Protestants only 25 subscribed to the NCRV magazine, and of those who said that they would vote socialist only 44% were subscribers of the VARA magazine. Furthermore, only 47% of the subscribers to a programme magazine considered themselves to be members of the respective broadcasting organisation and only 31% had said that they became members of the organisation to whose magazine they subscribed because they agreed with the principles for which that broadcasting organisation stood. On the other hand, 33% had chosen the broadcasting organisation because they liked its "Programme Magazine" and this percentage was even higher with respect to the individual broadcasting organisations where the above reason was indicated by subscribers to the programme magazine of the VARA (53%), AVRO (50%), TROS (41%), NCVR (35%) and KRO (34%). Moreover, it was hardly correct to suggest that the broadcasting organisations expressed their character and objectives in their programme magazines. For instance, during the week of 20 to 26 May 1973 the KRO magazine had devoted only 41/2 out of 88 pages to subjects which might be considered as expressing that organisation's character and objective, the VARA magazine 4 out of 64 pages, the AVRO magazine 3 out of 55 pages, the VPRO magazine 2 out of 64 pages, the TROS magazine 2 out of 160 pages, and the EO magazine 1 out of 56 pages. In the applicant company's submission, the Government themselves had admitted that Article 22 of the Broadcasting Act created an exclusive right to mere factual data and had justified this by pointing out that the programmes were the result of much thought, effort, inventiveness and organising skill and also constituted the principal means by which the broadcasting organisations could expound their message and give expression to their character. However, the Government confused "programmes" with "programme data", the latter meaning lists of items and of performers, with which the present applications was solely concerned. In the applicant's submission these were not the result of much thought, effort, inventiveness and organising skill and they concerned mere facts, such as the day and time when a particular broadcasting organisation transmitted a particular programme. Perhaps the contents of such broadcasts and also the special "mixture" of cultural, informative, educational and entertaining elements which each organisation was obliged to include in its broadcasts should be protected against imitation by other organisations, but it was not possible to protect on that ground the mere fact of the broadcasts. Thus it was also not possible to maintain that those who wished to publish such programme data were seeking an unfair advantage by using the results of other people's efforts and skills. Otherwise it would equally be justified to accuse newspapers which published programme data of football matches or of theatre plays that they were preying on the efforts and skills of football-clubs and/or their teams or respectively on those of the theatrical companies. Furthermore, the Government's allegation that the broadcasting organisations needed the money which they received from their members in the form of subscriptions to their programme magazines in order to finance their broadcasting activities was simply not true. In fact, under Article 58 of the Broadcasting Act "institutions to which broadcasting time has been allocated will receive from Our Minister an allowance that is equal to the total of their expenditure approved by him". Thus broadcasting was, in principle, wholly financed from public funds which were derived from the fees which every owner of a television/or wireless set had to pay, and from the yields of television advertising. But even if it were true that the broadcasting organisations needed the profits from the subscription to their programme magazines for their broadcasting activities, the legislature could have adopted the arrangements proposed by the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting Legislation which allowed publication of the complete programme data by all interested members of the press against payment of a fair and reasonable retribution. However, for the reasons already given the broadcasting organisations had opposed such a solution. The applicant company then dealt with the respondent Government's submissions concerning the Supreme Court's interpretation of Article 10 of the Copyright Act. It maintained that its previous allegations on this point were relevant insofar as they tended to show that the restrictions on copyright protection imposed by the Supreme Court in respect of "writings without a distinctive personal character" to the extent that such writings had been published or were meant to be published, had only one purpose namely that of preventing that copyright from degrading into a monopoly of mere factual data. Nevertheless, the Broadcasting Legislation in fact went beyond the scope of the Court's interpretation of the Copyright Act and the proposals of the Government's Standing Advisory Committee on Copyright when the new Bill was discussed in Parliament. The Government denied that the Broadcasting Act created a monopoly on mere factual data and it was true that the Act did not do so in so many words. However, in the applicant company's submission, its effect brought about such result. Indeed, the Government had themselves admitted that the purposes of Articles 22 and 23 of the Act was to protect the exclusive right of the broadcasting organisations to publish the complete programme data in their "Programme Magazines" and to deny such publication to others. In the applicant company's further submission, the Government's claim that the application was manifestly ill-founded under Article 10 or 14 of the Convention rested on a misunderstanding of the applicant's complaints. First of all, reference to the Televizier Case was quite relevant, as the applicant maintained that, apart from the broadcasting legislation, already the construction which the Supreme Court placed on Article 10 of the Copyright Act by including "writings without distinctive or personal character" constituted a violation of Article 10 and/or Article 14 of the Convention. To that extent it had endorsed, and fully made its own, the arguments submitted by the applicant in the Televizier Case. Secondly, the applicant company had not alleged that Article 10 of the Convention imposed an obligation on the broadcasting organisations to made the complete programme data available to the editors of "General Interest Magazines" nor had it demanded that the respondent Government should compel these organisations to do so. Indeed, the question whether or not Article 10 of the Convention included the right to information was an interesting one but was not the subject of discussion in this case. The present case was rather based on the thesis that, by making unlawful the publication of the complete programme data, i.e. a full weekly programme and not simply the programme for a few days to come, for all except the broadcasting organisations, the broadcasting legislation interfered with the applicant company's right under Article 10 of the Convention, freely to impart information, and with everyone's right under the same provision freely to receive such information. Furthermore, insofar as the broadcasting legislation was especially designed to prevent the publishers of "General Interest Magazines" from publishing the complete programme data, and thus from the enjoyment of their rights under Article 10 on no other ground than that their magazines were competitive with the "Programme Magazines", this legislation was discriminatory within the meaning of Article 14 of the Convention. In this context the applicant company submitted that a short summary of the programme data was allowed to be published by the Dutch daily and other newspapers and by foreign "General Interest Magazines" sold in the Netherlands and of which some were written in Dutch. The applicant company finally submitted that the interference complained of was not justifiable under paragraph (2) of Article 10 of the Convention. In this connection it explained that neither the Broadcasting Act nor the Decree could be considered as "laws" within the meaning of that provision. "Laws" within that meaning required that the legislature had consciously and conscientiously balanced the right to freedom of expression against other interests. This the legislature had failed to do in respect of the broadcasting legislation as it had consistently refused to acknowledge even the possibility that the provisions granting an exclusive right to publish programme data might be understood as a restriction of the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 (1) of the Convention. In the applicant company's further submission, the term "rights of others" in Article 10 (2) of the Convention referred only to such rights which were protected under the Convention. Otherwise the national legislature would have vast freedom arbitrarily to restrict the right to freedom of expression, the only limitation then having to be found in the words "necessary in a democratic society" which were rather vague. Indeed, the system contemplated by the broadcasting legislation in the Netherlands could not be considered "necessary in a democratic society". It was certainly not sufficient to refer to the fact that the Government and Parliament of a democratic country had found such restriction to be necessary, for, although the Contracting States had a certain margin of appreciation in determining the limits that might be set to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, their judgment was clearly open to supervision, inter alia by the Commission. Furthermore, it was equally not sufficient simply to find justification for the creation of exclusive rights, as the question was not whether or not the interference was justified but whether or not it was necessary. The applicant company maintained that it was not and submitted in this context that, according to its information, no other country provided for such exclusive right with regard to the publication of data of radio and television programmes. On the contrary, nearly everywhere else such data were considered as "news" which was available to the entire press for free and complete publication. For these reasons the applicant company submitted that its application was not manifestly ill-founded and should therefore be accepted by the Commission. THE LAW The applicant company has complained that the restrictions imposed by legislation in the Netherlands on the publication of radio and television programme data are inconsistent with Article 10 (Art. 10) of the Convention and amount to discrimination within the meaning of Article 14 (Art. 14). The Netherlands Government have submitted hat the application is manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27, paragraph (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention. They maintained that Article 10 (Art. 10) of the Convention does not grant the applicant company the right to receive information from third persons in order to impart it further for commercial purposes. In any event, any restrictions imposed on the publication of the programmes concerned are necessary in the broadcasting system established in the Netherlands in order to protect the interests of the broadcasting organisations, both financially and otherwise, and they are therefore justified under paragraph (2) of Article 10 (Art. 10-2). Furthermore, there is no question of a violation of Article 14 (Art. 14) of the Convention as the publications concerned are not prohibited on any grounds mentioned in that Article, but on the legitimate ground of protecting the rights of others. Article 27 (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention in requiring the Commission to declare inadmissible any application from an individual, a group of individuals or non-governmental organisation which it considers to be manifestly ill-founded, does not permit the Commission, at the stage of admissibility, to reject a complaint which cannot be so described (see, for example, decisions on the admissibility of Applications No 1474/62 and No 1769/63, Collection of Decisions, Vol. II, pp. 50 and 59). In the present case the Commission has carried out a preliminary examination of the information and arguments submitted by the parties with regard to the applicant company's complaints under Articles 10 and 14 (Art. 10, 14) of the Convention. The Commission finds that these raise substantial issues of law and of fact and are of such complexity that their determination should depend upon an examination of their merits. It follows that they cannot be regarded as manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 (2) (Art. 27-2), of the Convention, and no other ground for declaring the application inadmissible has been established, or has even been alleged. For these reasons the Commission DECLARES ADMISSIBLE and retains the application, without in anyway prejudging the merits of the case.