RTBF and VRT join the Public Media Alliance to collaborate on impact of public service media

29th February 2024
Belgian public broadcasters join our growing alliance of public media organisations. 
Three men stand in front of a screen with the VRT, PMA, and RTBF logos on it.
Kristian Porter, CEO of PMA, Jean-Paul Philippot, CEO of RTBF, and Frederik Delaplace, CEO of VRT, in Belgium. Credit: VRT

The Public Media Alliance is delighted to welcome the Radio-Télévision Belge de la Communauté française (RTBF) and Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie (VRT) into its network of public service media organisations. 

The alliance, spearheaded by leading public service broadcasters, addresses the joint challenges facing public media and enables members to share knowledge and best practices. Through research, training, working groups and exchange opportunities, the network builds on the strengths and core values of public service media to amplify their impact worldwide.

Belgium’s public media system is particularly unique in that it has two separate public service broadcasters operating in two of Belgium’s national languages. RTBF is the public service media of the French-speaking community of Belgium, while VRT is the public service broadcaster of the Flemish Community in Belgium. 

From technological disruption and competitive platforms to social media and disinformation, the challenges facing public media globally are growing, and more shared than ever before. By joining forces based on their values and focus on innovation, public media can strengthen each other in their public missions. That is why VRT and RTBF have joined the Public Media Alliance. 

Founded in 1946, PMA is mandated to support and advocate for the role of public media in democratic society. It has over 50 members across six continents, including the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Thai PBS.

PMA is a member of the Media Freedom Coalition’s (MFC) Consultative Network and  Secretariat of the Global Task Force for public media. It is also on the Steering Committee for the Public Broadcasters International (PBI) conference and works closely with UNESCO and other partners to deliver media development projects worldwide. 

“In today’s global world, exchanges are becoming increasingly global and debates increasingly polarized. The primary mission of public media lies in their ability to strengthen ties with their local audiences while promoting democratic values. Faced with the technological and social challenges of the future, it is imperative to strengthen collaborations to succeed. In this context, the Public Media Alliance, with its global reach, represents a valuable asset, a source of inspiration and a source of pride.”

– Jean-Paul Philippot, CEO of RTBF

“International collaboration among public service broadcasters is all about exchanging content and platforms; but also about enriching perspectives, bridging cultures, and fostering societal impact. By working together through the Public Media Alliance, we look forward to building on each other’s initiatives, sharing insights on technological advancements, and creating a narrative on the impact of public service media that transcends borders. In doing so, we can not only serve our audiences better but also contribute to a more connected and resilient media sector.” 

– Frederik Delaplace, CEO of VRT

Kristian Porter

“RTBF and VRT exhibit the best of public service media, and a willingness to experiment, innovate, and collaborate to ensure they are relevant and accessible to all audiences. As the challenges facing public media continue to mount worldwide, it is imperative that public media come together to share knowledge and best practices, and devise solutions. The addition of RTBF and VRT to the Public Media Alliance will greatly benefit our members and strengthen our resolve in advocating the importance of public media in democracy. I look forward to working with them closely in the months and years ahead.” 

– Kristian Porter, CEO of PMA

Who are RTBF and VRT?

RTBF and VRT trace their roots to Belgium’s first public broadcaster. The Institut national de radiodiffusion (INR) and the National Institute for Radio Broadcasting (NIR), founded in 1930, each had one radio station in their own language, French and Dutch. In 1960, it was renamed Belgium Radio and Television RTB/BRT, but it was not until 1977 when the organisation was split up into two separate institutions. 

Although they are now independent of one another, RTBF and VRT share the same space in Brussels and are both developing new headquarters on the same plot.  

RTBF plays a significant role on the international stage and is a member of Les Médias Francophones Publics (MFP) – the network of French-speaking public broadcasters. RTBF is also one of four broadcasters involved in the Public Spaces Incubator, exploring opportunities for a public service remit in the digital realm alongside three other PMA members.  

RTBF is an autonomous public enterprise of a cultural nature. Active in television, radio, the web and social networks, RTBF acts as a global media player and the engine of expression and fulfillment of its audiences, those of today and tomorrow. As a public service media, its mission is to guarantee pluralist and independent information to the French-speaking community of Belgium but also to promote culture, heritage and talents and to ensure the transmission of memory. It is willing to entertain, educate or even contribute to social cohesion and the development of local economies. 

To foster innovation in the cultural and creative ecosystem, RTBF is very active in the (co)production and distribution of innovative formats, including interactive storytelling and podcast narratives.

VRT is a dynamic and creative broadcaster with strong local roots, aimed at all Flemish citizens. VRT presents high-quality and distinctive content on information, culture, sports, entertainment, and education. Among others, VRT has developed the interactive educational toolkit EDUbox, which is being adopted in other European countries. With its three television channels, five radio stations and various digital channels, VRT reaches 90% of all Flemish people, every single week. Consequently, VRT is driven towards major societal impact and is able to contribute to a pluralistic debate, thus strengthening democracy. VRT is also a very future-oriented organisation and focuses heavily on innovation and digitisation. The broadcaster plays an important role in the Flemish media ecosystem and cooperates with numerous national and international partners from various fields. VRT is vice-chair of the NEM initiative, which helps set the strategic innovation agenda for European media, and leads the media working group of the Big Data Value Association, focused on an AI- and data-driven digital transformation of European economy and society. 

Together with RTBF, and supported by the Department of Culture, Youth and Media, VRT leads the international network ‘Future Media Hubs’ to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing between private and public service media. The network brings together over 50 partners in different continents. In 2021, both RTBF and VRT hosted the Public Broadcasters International (PBI) conference. They are also members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

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