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3D illustration of the Belgium flag on a media icon. This is the title image for our blog about media in Belgium.

Media in Belgium: Media Landscape Guide

Charles Ayling

Nov 29, 2023

Belgium's media environment is determined by the country's intricate political framework. In the north, there lies Flanders, a Dutch-speaking region with a population of around 6.7 million people in 2021. Then there are about 4.8 million French-speaking Belgians in the south, the majority of them live in Wallonia and some in the Brussels-Capital Region (Brussels and its neighboring towns).

Finally, in the extreme east, there is a small German-speaking enclave of approximately 75,000 to 80,000 individuals. Belgium's linguistic, political, and cultural distinctions have resulted in a landscape that mirrors the country's federal state structure as well as its language groups. As a result, one could argue that there is no single "Belgium" media market. Instead, there are several, each with its distinct brand and qualities.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Media in Belgium

In 2021, the Belgian media landscape showed positive signs as digital subscriptions increased, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic's impact and recovering advertising markets. Notably, Mediahuis, a major Flemish publisher, became a billion-dollar company through acquisitions in the Netherlands, Germany, and Luxembourg. The CEO emphasized the importance of scale or niche focus for success.

Mediahuis successfully expanded its digital subscriptions and saw increased sales for Flemish newspapers. In Wallonia, publisher Rossel acquired broadcaster RTL Belgium, forming a joint venture with DPG Media. This created a dominant advertising force in Belgium, holding a significant market share in broadcast and print advertising.

Digitalization, mergers, and diversification strategies proved successful, but some companies faced challenges. Roularta Media Group closed a regional newspaper, and DPG Media shut down a modern print facility. Newsroom integration and industry changes raised concerns about job security for journalists.

While some legacy news organizations embraced digital strategies to reach new audiences, others faced pressure due to changing editorial approaches and commercial demands. VRT partnered with a bank for financial news and shifted a children's news bulletin from Instagram to TikTok. Political parties also adapted communication strategies, with Vlaams Belang launching a news app and an anti-vax affiliated lawyer creating Verso. tv.

Image of two people working with Belgium media

Media Legislation in Belgium

Before we dive into the top media channels in Belgium, let’s first understand the legal scenario of the country.

Belgium's media landscape consists of distinct markets in French-speaking Wallonia and Flemish Flanders, with limited competition. The daily print press is dominated by a few companies owned by prominent families with diverse economic interests. The government oversees regional broadcasters RTBF and VRT, theoretically protecting them from political influence.

Political Context

While political parties may attempt to influence RTBF and VRT coverage, public broadcasting is designed to resist political pressure. A high council in Brussels-Wallonia ensures a diverse range of opinions. The government doesn't consistently condemn threats against journalists, but steps have been taken to address fake news from anti-vaccine movements.

Belgium lacks a comprehensive press rights law, but the media enjoy strong legal guarantees. Source confidentiality has been protected by law since 2005, and a national ethics council acts as a self-regulatory body. However, defamation remains a criminal offense, with journalists facing legal consequences. Controversy arose in 2019 over a clause allowing judges to suppress articles without justification.

Economic Context

Belgian media face challenges with a significant drop in advertising revenue, now shifting to online platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic further reduced advertising sales, partially offset by increased subscriptions. A case in 2018 highlighted concerns about press susceptibility to economic pressure, with reporters dismissed after covering a financial scandal.

Sociocultural Context

The Belgian press generally enjoys high public trust, particularly in Flanders, but concerns about disinformation surfaced during the pandemic. Criticism towards Flemish media accused them of a pro-government bias in covering the public health emergency. In response to growing distrust, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation introduced a media education curriculum in 2022 to enhance critical analysis skills among students.

Media Safety in Belgium

Belgium has slipped eight places in Reporters Without Borders' (RSF) annual press freedom survey, which was released in May 2023. The country was ranked 31st, down from 23rd the previous year.

While Belgian journalists have a "relatively high" level of trust, they encounter violence from police and demonstrators at protests, according to the organisation.

However, the RSF report states that the media in Belgium enjoys strong legal and constitutional protections, noting that source confidentiality has been safeguarded by federal legislation since 2005, although some sections remain contentious.

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What Are the Largest Media Companies in Belgium?

Here you find a list of the largest media companies in Belgium:

#MediaTypeFounded inHeadquarters
1Belgacom SkynetInteractive digital media company1995Brussels, Belgium
2CorelioBelgian media group1976Belgium
3Proximedia groupBelgian media group1998Humaniteitslaan 116, B-1070 Brussels
4TappticInternational digital company2010Brussels, Belgium

What Are the Top Media Channels In Belgium?

3D illustration of media items for media in Belgium

The media industry in Belgium is highly consolidated—a tiny number of Belgian firms own the majority of newspapers, television stations, and radio stations. De Persgroep is the largest private media conglomerate in the Netherlands. Cable television is very popular, and stations in nearby countries, particularly France and the Netherlands, have big audiences.

International media watchdogs give Belgium good marks for press freedom. According to Reporters Without Borders, a regulation protecting journalists' rights to keep their contacts private is "one of the most protective in the world." Also, there were approximately 11 million internet users in Belgium with an internet penetration of 94.5% in the start of 2023

In this next section, we discuss the top media channels in Belgium in more detail. Read along!

Television in Belgium

The VRT, or Flanders' national public-service broadcaster, is perhaps Belgium's largest media organization. VRT channels such as Een and Canvas were among the most-watched in Dutch-speaking Belgium alone as of 2021. The VRT also produced several of the sports and vacation series that became the most popular television shows in Flanders in 2021.

In the south, however, the Walloon audience market share is more evenly distributed among different channels. RTBF shares the market-leading position with the Luxembourgish RTL Group, with both broadcasters accounting for roughly 20% of the market.

Altogether, the most popular TV channels in Belgium are:

  • RTBF
  • VRT
  • VTM
  • Vier
  • RTL
3D illustration of a laptop with stars

Additionally, the number of TV viewers in the 'TV Viewers' section of the Belgian media market is expected to increase by 0.1 million people (+1.07%) between 2023 and 2027. After the ninth consecutive year of growth, the indicator is expected to reach 9.47 million users and hence a new high in 2027. Notably, the number of TV viewers in the media market's 'TV Viewers' category has been steadily expanding in recent years.

Furthermore, the indicator 'Average Revenue per TV User' is expected to fluctuate among the four groups over the projected period until 2027. With 110.98 US dollars, the section Pay TV has the highest indicator 'Average Revenue per TV User' of the four selected segments. Public TV License Fees, on the other hand, are rated bottom, with 0 USD. The difference between them and Pay TV is 110.98 US dollars.

Radio in Belgium

VRT, like television, is a household name in Flanders' radio market. In 2021, VRT's public radio station Radio 2 was the most popular of the country's more than 20 Dutch-language radio stations, with a nearly 30% market share.

Other notable VRT brands include Studio Brussel or StuBru (alternative, rock) and MNM (pop music), which had market shares of around 8% in the same year. RTBF's VivaCité was Wallonia's most popular radio station in 2021, accounting for more than 12% of total listening time.

Belgischer Rundfunk (BRF) is also a popular German-language public broadcaster in Belgium along with La Premiere and Classic 21 by RTBF.

You can see a blank sheet of paper leaning against a wall in a pink room

When it comes to news and print, Mediahuis and DPG Media (the new name of De Persgroep since 2019) are the leading participants in the Flanders newspaper sector. Mediahuis publishes the popular newspapers Het Nieuwsblad (215,000 paid circulation in 2022), De Standaard (65,000 print circulation in the same year), and other local newspapers.

DPG Media, on the other hand, is the publisher of the leading Flemish newspaper, Het Laatste Nieuws, as well as the high-quality newspaper De Morgen. As the proprietor of the business newspaper Le Soir and the popular Sudpresse, Groupe Rossel controls the majority of the print market in Wallonia.

In terms of internet consumption, in 2020, practically all major online news brands in Flanders were of domestic origin. This was slightly different in Wallonia, where the most popular online news brands featured numerous foreign brands.

Tip: Learn more about the state of print monitoring and learn how to measure media coverage.

What Are the Top Newspapers in Belgium?

  • Het Nieuwsblad
  • Het Laatste Nieuws
  • Le Soir
  • De Standaard
  • De Tijd
  • De Morgen
  • La Libre Belgique
  • Grenz-Echo

Social Media in Belgium

65% of Belgian customers claimed to be active social media users, despite a population of more than 11 million people. However, there is no ranking of how many users in Belgium use any individual social media platform. This is because there isn't a lot of data available on social media in Belgium, which is acknowledged by domestic sources.

One probable explanation is the country's structure: Belgium has six different governments. There are three regional governments (Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region), two regional governments (French-speaking Community and German-speaking Community), and one national government. Internal disparities in language and, in certain cases, legislation make it difficult to conduct nationwide surveys required to collect data on a topic such as social media use in the country.

In short, numbers on a regional rather than national level are more likely to exist in Belgium.

According to sources, Facebook dominates the country, followed by:

#Social Media Platform% of people that trust the platform for news% of people that trust the platform for other reasons
1Facebook38% (-1)70%
2YouTube17% (-2)54%
3WhatsApp15% (-1)58%
4Facebook Messenger14% (+2) 41%
5Instagram12% (-2)54%

A poll done in Belgium in the third quarter of 2021 discovered that the average daily time spent on the internet was 2 hours 19 mins, which is almost 60% down from the global average data.

Tip: Download the free State of Social Report to learn more about social media facts for Belgium.


Brands aren't limited to linear TV spending, as Belgium is quickly catching up to more mature VOD markets in terms of household penetration, with 37 out of every 100 households currently owning an OTT Subscription VOD (SVOD) service.

The most popular SVOD services in Belgium are rather unsurprising:

  1. Netflix (52%)
  2. Amazon Prime (15%)
  3. Streamz

Streamz is a joint venture between DPG Media and SBS, and is the third most popular. With the debut of this portal, subscribers can now view all of the best Flemish content from both of the main Flemish broadcasters. The platforms of the aforementioned broadcasting organizations, DPG Media, IP Belgium, and SBS, which include VTM Go, RTL Play, and Go Play, are the country's leading BVOD players.

Summing Up: Media in Belgium

Overall, the Belgian media landscape experienced growth in digital subscriptions, successful mergers, and diversification strategies, but challenges and concerns about job security for journalists remained. Hence, it is important to leverage media monitoring to keep up with the rise of digital media in Belgium. means keeping an ear out for who is saying what about your firm, competitors, industry, and any other topics that are important to your business.

It is a crucial practice for strengthening your public relations strategy since, in public relations, you must always be informed of what is going on. Not only with how people see and perceive your organization but with everything.

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Meltwater's public relations suite can help you remain on top of the latest trends in your sector by providing thorough media monitoring and important insights into your customers' behaviors.

Furthermore, by utilizing a press release distribution service, relationship management, media database, and other important media tools such as the Meltwater Media Relations Suite, you can take your company's marketing to the next level.

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