a subsidiary of RTL Belgium part of RTL Group, whose parent company is the German Bertelsmann Media Group,
is a generalist station broadcasting to Belgian Francophone listeners. Bel RTL is
run independently from RTL in France and only buys its famous show “Les Grosses
Têtes” (“Big Heads”).
RTL Group globally employs 120,000
people, including approximately 650 staff in all its divisions in Europe, with 100
dedicated specifically to the Belgian radio departments. Its revenue is entirely
based on commercials.
Bel RTL began employing visual
radio last September, integrating the MultiCam Radio visual radio solution from
French-firm MultiCam Systems.
Adelbrecht is general manager of
RTL and Radio Contact. Credit: Jean-Michel Clajot
The RTL Group’s strategy is to have “each group
develop its respective programs to best fit their environment and markets,” said
Eric Adelbrecht, general manager of Bel RTL and Radio Contact since 2010.
He is also Musical Strategy manager for RTL Belgium. Today, Bel RTL and Radio Contact
are the two leading radio stations in Francophone Belgium. The first station employs
a full-time staff of 70, and the second 30 people.
Adelbrecht, who was CEO and program
director at Radio Contact from 2006 to 2010, points out that the two stations
are complementary: “Bel RTL has had a generalist format and targets those over 35
years of age, while Radio Contact targets a younger audience, through a musical
style similar to NRJ France. We have in-house programs forged for our specific
audience, even if we draw on the dynamics of RTL France,” he said.
Bel RTL is working, along with
the group’s partners, on the evolution of general radio. “We must constantly
fight back with the latest technology to prevent losing audience. It is a
challenge, with the younger generations now using YouTube, Spotify, Pandora and
other platforms rather than listening to radio. If we do not anticipate this, it
could mean the end of traditional radio,” said Adelbrecht.
The group has always been on the cutting edge of
strategic innovation. It’s been promoting live events for over 30 years, putting
the focus on both local events and leading artists, such as Céline Dion and
other international stars.
RTL House in the Chaussée de
area of Brussels.
In 1999, Bel RTL began simulcasting
its morning radio programs on RTL-TVI, which is based in Luxembourg and part of
the same group. “Technological development has been very important for Bel RTL with
the emergence of visual radio and airing radio programs on TV and internet platforms,
“We began incorporating visual
radio, with the launch of “Radio Contact Vision” in 2009 and “Bel RTL Radiovision”
in 2015, integrating MultiCam’s technology. In February we also upgraded Radio
Contact Vision with the MultiCam system. But we are not a TV channel, we remain
a radio station — our goal is to develop enriched content.”
Piette is technical and IT
Belgium. Credit: L. Bazzoni
As part of the radio visualization
process, Bel RTL began using automated voice-detection cameras for its new
digital TV and streaming station Bel RTL Radiovision.
Thierry Piette, technical and
IT director, supervised the visual radio project, which encompassed a number of
engineers. “The technical teams at RTL Belgium had a key goal — to enrich radio
with video without distorting the original (radio) product and without requiring
additional TV tasks from the radio engineer,” said Piette.
RTL Belgium’s in-house developers, graphic designers and video
engineers designed the core of the automation
for the visual part based on the MultiCam Radio solution.
Depending on the detected event
and environment, the automation system will automatically run a series of videos,
managing video servers or graphics systems. This particular configuration works
with Netia Radio-Assist Air-DDO software. By simply turning on a microphone the
voice-detection function, which manages the cameras, is enabled. Images and
text data, related to the program being aired, can also automatically enrich
the video stream, via a synchronized audio jingle identifying the program.
Listeners can interact with
the video program, through social networks, tweets and photos that can be automatically
Arnaud Anchelergue, MultiCam CEO, headed the Bel RTL project
for MultiCam. He explained that it was necessary to extend its four-camera-based
system, because the broadcaster required additional cameras. MultiCam thus integrated
a small matrix capable of supporting 12 sources and they also increased the vocal
detection engine from 6 to 12 microphones.
Huybrechs is in charge of visual
project at RTL Belgium.
“We had a number of requirements
that MultiCam incorporated into the system for us,” said John Huybrechs, RTL
Belgium engineer in charge of the visual radio implementation. “We appreciated
their ability to meet our expectations,” he said.
In addition to visual radio, Bel
RTL is also studying the various possibilities of digital terrestrial radio. “It
will allow us to develop our intelligent digital strategy, offer new products
and a far better quality sound than FM binary digital sound — also now saturated. This will have a positive
impact on radio in general,” concluded Adelbrecht.
As a consequence, RTL Belgium
is looking forward to the 2017 license renewal procedure for its existing FM
licenses and to obtain DAB licenses.