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Belgium’s RTBF MIX Crosses the Language Border

Via DAB+ the station targets listeners outside the Wallonia region

On May 2, French-language public radio RTBF launched RTBF MIX. Broadcasting on DAB+, the station airs political, economic and sports information alongside music from the Wallonia-Brussels region to the Flanders (Dutch-language) region.

Targeting the French-speaking audience outside Wallonia, RTBF MIX broadcasts programs from La Première, Classic 21 and VivaCité.

“When RTBF stopped its AM broadcasts on Dec. 31, we began looking for a way to broadcast our content in Flanders in high-quality audio,” explained Frédéric Gerand, head of RTBF’s radio and audio on demand. “FM reception of our radio channels was poor in most of Flanders, and we wanted to offer an alternative other than the internet — DAB+ was the answer.”

RTBF MIX’s basic roster includes La Première between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays, VivaCité’s sports programs (Viva Sport) on weekend nights, and Classic 21 between 10 a.m. and 05 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m during the weekend.

For RTBF MIX’s broadcasts on the 5A/5D DAB+ multiplex through network provider Norkring.

“Initially, there was an agreement on reciprocity with public broadcaster VRT Radio 1 broadcasting in Wallonia, and RTBF La Première airing in Flanders,” continued Gerand. “In the end, BBC World Service got a DAB+ frequency in Flanders, leaving the RTBF without access to DAB+ there. When in October 2018 Norkring obtained a license for a second multiplex covering Flanders and Brussels, the company offered us a spot as part of a five-year contract. It’s quite an investment but an important part of our mission to reach our audience even beyond Belgium’s language borders,” he said.

[Read: Bruno dans la Radio Broadcasts From Brussels]

“DAB+ technology allows us to reach the Classic 21 audience in Flanders with a supreme quality in reception,” added Etienne Dombret, Classic 21’s editorial chief. “Alongside the rock format, listeners will benefit from the new content of RTBF ‘Mobilinfo,’ which provides  traffic reports from the north of the country.”

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