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RTL Belgium turns down FWB financial aid

© Belga
© Belga

RTL Belgium has decided to turn down financial assistance offered by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, FWB, under a draft agreement worked out by the two sides.

The board of directors of the company, which is the member of Luxemburg’s RTL Group that focuses on media activities for French-speaking Belgium, took the decision at a meeting on Friday.

“Since the month of August, the signs of economic recovery tend to eliminate one of the reasons for the draft agreement,” the company said in a statement. “In fact, contrary to forecasts, the RTL’s dramatic financial situation does not seem to be long-lasting.” The RTL will thus continue its activities under license from Luxembourg.

RTL Belgium was severely affected by the novel Coronavirus crisis, which slashed its earnings from advertising, and in late June, it turned to the FWB Government for help.

This led to the draft agreement, under which the FWB offered a one-off multiannual aid package covering up to 80% of the financial damage incurred by the company due to the crisis.

The aim for the Francophone community was, among other things, to avoid new layoffs at the RTL after recent staff cuts made under the #Evolve Plan.

In exchange for the assistance, RTL Belgium would have had to come under the regulatory system of the FWB, which would have meant submitting to the authority of the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA). It would also have had to safeguard jobs and guarantee support for local creation.

The need to repatriate some activities to Belgium also posed a problem for shareholders, Le Soir reported in its Friday evening edition.

The Brussels Times