Telenet becomes first in Belgium to make skipping all commercials impossible
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Telenet becomes first in Belgium to make skipping all commercials impossible

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Telenet clients will soon have to watch one minute of unskippable commercials before they can start watching the TV programmes they recorded, the company announced on Tuesday.

Telenet will be the first in Belgium to roll out this model, which will be from the end of September 2021, but the other digital television operators will soon follow suit.

“We are consuming more television and video content than ever before, on all types of screens,” the press release states. “At the same time, TV adverts are being skipped more and more frequently.”

“As programmes on commercial channels are largely financed through advertising, this is exerting ever greater pressure on investment in local productions,” it added.

That is why all Belgian broadcasters have asked operators to introduce a revised, uniform model for TV advertising to boost the local television market.

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Telenet is the first operator to respond to this request and will start implementing the necessary changes from the end of September 2021 for the DPG Media (VTM 1, 2, 3, 4 and Gold) and SBS (Play 4, 5, 6 and 7) channels.

In practice, this means that viewers will have to sit through one minute of unskippable adverts before they can watch any recordings they have made of VTM programmes (DPG Media) and PLAY programmes (SBS) – following a model that is similar to the one on online video platforms.

Users of Terugkijk TV (Telenet’s catch-up service, which allows viewers to watch programmes on demand for a period of seven days after the original broadcast) will no longer be able to fast forward through ad breaks during programmes, but they will still be able to fast forward the programme content itself.

The first stage will cover all viewers who watch digital TV via the latest Telenet TV box, with all other digital television customers following later on in 2022, and will be performed automatically on the set-top box.

Additionally, as soon as the new advertising model has been activated on their set-top boxes, customers will receive seven days of Terugkijk TV free of charge as standard.

VRT and the other Belgian broadcasting groups, such as Proximus, will introduce unskippable commercials at a later stage, according to the press release, adding that “constructive discussions about the timing of its implementation” are ongoing.

“That said, VRT’s programmes will of course remain free from commercial breaks,” said Frederik Delaplace, CEO of VRT. “We believe that this model can offer the breathing space required to guarantee that Flemish viewers can continue to enjoy a strong and diverse local offer.”