Regulatory authorities

The responsibility for the enforcement of the media legislation rests with the regional media regulators: the Vlaamse Regulator voor de Media (VRM) and Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) for Flanders and Wallonia respectively. The VRM has a bicameral structure: The first chamber decides on general matters while the second chamber rules on issues regarding independence and the protection of minors. Responsibility for the evaluation of the contract between the government and public broadcaster also resides with the VRM. CSA, the Walloon counterpart, has similar responsibilities and three counsels: an advertising counsel, a control counsel and a licence counsel.

On the federal level, the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) regulates electronic communications (telephony, internet, digital television) and guarantees competition in the market. Moreover, it manages the electromagnetic spectrum and allocates scarce resources such as radio frequencies. Finally, it functions as media regulator in the Brussels-Capital Region, ensuring that operators in the bilingual area comply with specific regulations on radio and television.

A 2007 law established the Conference of Regulators for Electronic Communications (CRC) in order to stimulate coordination between the federal BIPT and the regional VRM and CSA. In 2011, based on an extensive market analysis, the CRC imposed the different cable operators Telenet, Tecteo and SFR/Numéricable to provide wholesale access to alternative operators. According to CRC, cable operators occupied a dominant position in the market for internet and cable television and were therefore required to open up their cable network. Similarly, Proximus was obliged to open up its copper network for alternative providers of broadband and digital television services.