Media regulator

In Belgium the communities are responsible for radio and television broadcasting, which are cultural matters. This does not only cover the content of the broadcasts but also, according to the  jurisdiction of the Belgian Constitutional Court, the technical elements for transmitting that content. 

Creation of content corresponds with the production of programmes, whereas the distribution of programmes consists of bringing that content to viewers/spectators by way of various technical means. 

As to making programmes, the radio or television broadcasting companies established – i.e. the head office of which is established - in a unilingual linguistic region fall under the community (Flemish, French or German-speaking Community), whose territorial authority is exercised within the linguistic region concerned. 

As for the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region, i.e. the territory of the 19 municipalities of the Brussels Region, the radio and television broadcasting companies established there, fall under the Federal State authorities, unless, because of their activities, in other words because of the programmes they make and/or broadcast, they cannot be linked exclusively to the Flemish Community, nor to the French Community. 

With regard to the distribution of programmes we have seen that this aspect is only accessory to the production of the programmes broadcast. Therefore, in principle, the body that has the authority to regulate the radio or television broadcasting companies also has the power to regulate the operators and networks that ensure the distribution of those programmes. In practice, in Brussels, programme distribution must not be linked exclusively to either of the two communities present there, when a single operator uses his network to distribute programmes that fall under different authorities (the federal authority and the communities); in that case that distribution becomes a federal competence. 

That is why on the territory of the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region, BIPT, a federal body, has the power to simultaneously: 

  • regulate the network operators (“programme distribution” aspect)

with the exception of operators only distributing exclusively Dutch-language or French-language programmes, such as the VRT or RTBF, who operate an analogue radio network; 

  • regulate the radio or television broadcasting companies (“programme production” aspect) established there, 

with the exception of the broadcasting companies making and/or distributing programmes exclusively in Dutch or French.