Proximus TV subscribers turned on their televisions this week to find their familiar channels occupying a different place on the dial – and very few were happy about the change.
Overnight, Proximus had changed the order of the channels on the remote, whether the standard order or one chosen by the subscriber. From now on, all remotes follow the same order, with one exceptions. In Brussels, the first channels are the high definition channels. Then come the French-speaking channels, then the international channels like CNN and the BBC, only then the Dutch-speaking channels. After that, the channels are ordered according to subject area: classical music, children, sport etc.
Also victims are the local channels like Bruzz and Bx1, the local Brussels channels. Bx1 complained to Fadila Laanan of the French community after it was moved from number 25 to number 160. Other local channels have been moved further down the order, and at one point it seemed as if RingTV, which covers the periphery around Brussels, had vanished altogether. Proximus later explained that users can find their own local channel at number 10 on the remote.
The exception to the new established order is in Flanders, where the Dutch-speaking channels come first. In Brussels, no allowance is made for Dutch-speaking residents of what is nominally a bilingual city; for them too, French-speaking channels come first.
While Laanan was demanding an explanation from Proximus, Karl Vanlouwe of N-VA was demanding an intervention by Flemish media minister Sven Gatz on the positioning of the Dutch-speaking channels for Brussels Flemings. Vanlouwe, a member of the Flemish parliament, pointed out that the state broadcaster VRT had been relegated to a position below Al Jazeera and Maghreb TV, while Bruzz moved from number 66 to number 176, in the block containing Bx1.
And while Proximus has yet to explain why such an enforced re-ordering was considered necessary, one solution remains for viewers: by pressing menu on the remote and going to settings, Proximus viewers can choose to re-number channels for themselves to place favourite channels higher in the selection order. The process is long and rather unwieldy, but allows the users to choose for themselves – at least until the provider decides to impose its own order once again.