An amendment to RTBF’s 2013-2017 management contract signed last Tuesday with the Wallonia-Brussels Federation leaves RTBF with less flexibility but gives it a firmer legal framework, which will allow it to develop and grow more smoothly, said RTBF managing director, Jean-Paul Philippot, during a press conference on Friday. The amendment to the public broadcasting management contract is in response to the European Commission’s recent decision regarding its online activities after a complaint was filed by publishers of French dailies. “Complying with the recommendations of the Commission has taken us 2 years of hard work,” says Jean-Paul Philippot. “It means we will now be working within a more restricted framework (…) but it also guarantees us from a legal point of view and ensures full compliance with European law. That means our areas of activity and development are fewer, but we also have the peace of mind which will encourage growth,” he adds.
The amendment to the management contract also allows RTBF to use new funding streams to offset the 21 million euro loss in public funding over three years that was voted by PS-cdH last October. The managing director said they had taken note of the economy section of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation budget reduction programme – “we are not happy about it but we taking it into account.” In 2015 alone, RTBF will have to save 5.9 million euros on its budget. The autonomous public company’s board is currently discussing concrete savings measures. Of the 5.9 million euros to be saved, 2 million will come from a reduction in funding allocated to Arte Belgium (which will go down from 3 million to 1 million euros next year). The remainder will be realized by cost reductions related to the purchase of broadcasting rights, mainly for certain sports events which have yet to be decided on, and by spreading out or halting certain investment projects.
“2014 was a year requiring frugality and 2015 is likely to continue in the same vein,” said Jean-Paul Philippot. He does not expect to see any new sources of revenue (that is, excluding advertising revenue, income from program rights and revenue from cable operators).