Since the audiovisual landscapes are distinct in the various communities of Belgium, four different pages were created in MAVISE:
- The BELGIUM page displays population and equipment data and the list of companies operating in the country;
- The various Communities pages (Flemish, French and German speaking Communities) display the licensing authorities relevant for each Community and the lists of channels available in the Community.
The three Communities (Flemish, French and Germanspeaking) each have responsibility for audiovisual communication and constitute separate markets, the common feature being the fact that all three markets have been extensively cabled for three decades and are thus able to receive the channels of neighbouring countries. They each have their own systems of regulating the audiovisual media and their own public service broadcasters, namely the VRT, the RTBF and the BRF respectively.
The main players in the Flemish Community are the VRT, which operates the public channels Één, Ketnet and Canvas, and VMMa (Vlaamse Media Maat schappij), which runs the channels VTM, 2BE, Anne, Jim and vtmKzoom. This group is equally controlled by two press groups, De Persgroep and Roularta Media Group. Één (VRT) continues to dominate the market, with a steadily rising daily audience share, which reached 33.4% in 20101 (compared with 30.1% in 2007). Following Één in terms of audience share are the channel VTM (20.2%) and the second public channel Ketnet/Canvas (children’s programmes during the day and cultural programmes in the evening). In April 2011, the Finnish group Sanoma took over the channels of the former SBS group (VT4 and VijfTV) from the ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG group and is now the third most important player in the Flemish television market.
In the French Community (which now refers to itself as the “Wallonia-Brussels Federation”, the main operators of television channels are, apart from RTBF (La Une, La Deux and La Trois), the RTL group, with its three channels RTLTVI, Club RTL and Plug RTL that target Belgium but operate under Luxembourg law, and the French group AB (AB3, AB4 and AB Shopping). RTBF has significantly modified its range of channels in 2010: it ceased broadcasting its international channel RTBF Sat in February, launched HD versions of its three channels in May and revamped the programming lineup of La Trois in September.
TLTVI continues to dominate the market with a 21.6 daily audience in 2011 (19.3% in 2007) and a prime time market share of 29.1%. The second most important Belgian channel is La Une (RTBF), with a 14.7% market share. ).The other Belgian channels have a combined share of less than 5% (Club RTL, La Deux, AB3, etc) and a significant number of viewers still turn to the French channels, which command about a third of the audience share. In the German speaking Community, the majority of the population (about 74 000 inhabitants) choose to watch the German television channels.
Almost 100% of Belgian households subscribe to payTV, this mainly being due to the extent of the country’s cable network. The country’s primary cable operator, Telenet (50.2% owned by Liberty Global), claims more than 2.274 million subscribers to its range of channels. In September 2012, Liberty Global announced a bid to take over all the group’s capital stock. Telenet’s main competitors are Brutélé, Tecteo and Numéricable. The market has undergone significant concentration in the last four years, with the number of cable operators falling from 19 in 2006 to just 6 in 2012, one of which, AIESH, is set to merge with Numéricable at the end of 2012. In July 2011, the IBPT (the federal telecommunications services authority) adopted a plan to open up the cable network. This states that cable operators will in future have to enable any interested parties to make a bid to offer television services or high speed Internet services using the networks of the major cable operators. This opening up should benefit the small operators but does not apply to the incumbent operator Belgacom.
Belgacom has its own platforms and has become an important competitor for the cable operators. It launched a package of IPTV channels in 2005 and announced that it had 1.211 million subscribers in December 2011. The success of its service is partly based on the fact that the telecommunications group has won the rights to transmit the Belgian football championship (Jupiler League). The Belgacom TV package is also marketed by Scarlet. In February 2010, the company Favco (Alpha Networks) launched with its “Billi” package Belgacom’s first separate IPTV service. In 2011, Belgacom TV launched TV Partout, a service that enables 11 channels to be received on a tablet and smartphone with Android, on an iPad and iPhone, on a PC and a laptop.
The competition between the various triple-play operators is likely to extend to mobile telephony, with Tecteo and Numéricable having announced their intention to expand their activities in this direction. In addition, Mobistar (France Télécom) hopes to benefit from the opening up of the cable network.
Satellite TV is another source of competition for cable television as three packages are marketed in Belgium. Airfield Media Group launched TV Vlaanderen for the Flemish Community in 2006 and TéléSAT for the French Community in early 2009. The two packages, which are now controlled from Luxembourg by the M7 Group, had about 100 000 subscribers at the end of 2009. Mobistar (France Télécom) started broadcasting a third, hybrid package (TNT, satellite and IPTV) in October 2010.
Belgacom, Telenet and Tecteo each offer their own audiovisual services. Belgacom provides various sports channels, Telenet provides a number of special-interest channels (films, sports, etc) under the “prime” label and Tecteo has taken over BeTV, which provides film channels and distributes the Canal+ group’s special-interest channels. The three operators also have their own VoD services and provide the catch-up TV services of the country’s main channels. Mobistar, Belgacom and RTBF have already launched applications for mobile TV, and VOO is set to do likewise. Finally, Belgacom has launched an application that permits access to its VoD service on Samsung smart TVs.
In 2011, the CSA, the regulator of Belgium’s French Community, identified 21 on-demand services available in Belgium, including 12 registered with its own services and 6 others falling within the responsibility of the Flemish regulator Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media (VRM). The other services had not been registered or were subject to foreign regulators, especially the French CSA.
In July 2012, the CSA handed to the legislature its evaluation of thepolicy measures on the promotion of European works and works of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in VoD services. The promotion of European works in video-on-demand services is an objective that was set in Article 46 of the AVMS directive. The CSA has been carrying out a long-term evaluation since 2010 in co-operation with providers of VoD services. Between June 2010 and June 2012, the number of promotions for European films and recent European films consistently remained between 30% and 50% for both Belgacom and VOO.
This description was last updated in October 2012. The rest of the data in MAVISE is continuously updated.