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 German speaking) 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 Een, Canvas, and the third channel Ketnet / Op.12. and the VMMa (Vlaamse Media Maatschappij), 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. Een (VRT) continues to dominate the market despite a fall in its share in 2012 (31.6% compared with 33.4% in 2011). Following Een in terms of audience share is the channel VTM (18.6%). In April 2011, the Finnish group Sanoma took over the channels of the former SBS group (VT4 and VijfTV) from the ProSiebenSat.1Media AG group and is now the third most important player in the Flemish television market with a 10.5% market share in 2012.
In the French Community (which now refers to itself as the “Federation Wallonie- Bruxelles”), the main operators of television channels are, apart from RTBF (La Une, La Deux and La Trois), the RTL group, with its three channels RTL-TVI, Club RTL and Plug RTL that target Belgium but operate under Luxembourg law, and the French group AB (AB3, AB4 and AB Shopping). RTBFs market share rose slightly in 2012 (20.9% compared with 20.5% in 2011). RTL-TVI continues to dominate the market with a 20.1% daily audience share in 2012 (19.2% in 2008) and a prime time market share of 28%. The second most important Belgian channel is La Une (RTBF), with a 14.6% market share. La Deux once again exceeded the 5% mark (5.4% compared with 4.8% in 2011). 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 mainly to watch the German television channels.
Almost 100% of Belgian households subscribe to pay TV, mainly due to the extent of the countrys cable network. The country’s primary cable operator, Telenet (58% of which is under the ownership of Liberty Global since January 2013), claims more than 2.1 million subscribers to its range of channels. The other cable operators are Brutélé, Tecteo (under the VOO brand) and Numericable/Coditel. 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. Since January 2013, the service of AIESH has been replaced by that of Numericable. 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 1.386 million subscribers in December 2012. 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 now enables 40 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 has extended to mobile telephony, with Tecteo, Favco and Numericable who provide a range of mobile services in competition with that of Belgacom and Mobistar, a subsidiary of France Telecom.
Satellite TV is another source of competition for cable television as two 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 are controlled from Luxembourg by the M7 Group, which does not provide any information on the number of subscribers. The TV offering of Mobistar, which launched a third, hybrid package in October 2010 (TNT, satellite and IPTV), was abandoned in May 2013. 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 theCanal+ groups special interest channels.
The three operators also have their own VoD services and provide the catch-up TV services of the countrys main channels. Belgacom, RTBF, Telenet and Tecteo have launched applications for mobile TV, and VOO is set to do likewise. Finally, Belgacom has launched an application, MovieMe that permits access to its VoD service on Samsung smart TVs, Google Play and iTunes Store.
On 24 October 2012, the European Commission announced it had applied to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for an order against Belgium on the grounds of the lack of transparency in its set of must-carry obligations for TV and radio content, as provided for in Article 31 of the Universal Service Directive (2002/22/EC).
In February 2014, Telenet decided to challenge before the Constitutional Court the Flemish“Signal Integrity” (Signaalintegriteit) decree, which, according to the cable operator, violates the principle of equality. The decree, which regulates delayed-viewing services, obliges Telenet to obtain the consent of channels before offering any new TV function
This description was last updated in February 2014 along with details on channels and line-ups. Changes to channel offers are updated on a regular basis.