VRT receives warning from regulator for advertising via VRT MAX

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The Flemish Regulator for the Media (VRM) has issued a warning to the VRT for showing commercials prior to live broadcasts via streaming platform VRTNU (now VRT MAX). That is a violation of the Media Decree. A warning is an appropriate sanction, the independent supervisor for the Flemish audiovisual media reported on Monday.

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The VRM responded to a complaint. Those who follow the live broadcasts of the VRT via VRT MAX usually cannot join immediately because a commercial of 15 to 20 seconds is shown first.

“The viewer who chooses to watch the VRT television broadcasts ‘live’ via VRT MAX can only watch the audiovisual programs simultaneously on the basis of a program schedule. This corresponds to the definition of a linear television service in the Media Decree. In the present case, the linear broadcasting service appears to start with a commercial message that is indeed contained in the linear broadcasting service,” according to the press release.

Already tapped on the fingers

The VRM judges that the commercial messages broadcast during the livestream television broadcasts on VRT MAX meet the definition of advertising laid down by decree. “They therefore fall under the prohibition of Article 50 of the Media Decree and do not constitute a permitted other form of commercial communication in accordance with Article 48 of the Media Decree.”

At the end of last month, Flemish Media Minister Benjamin Dalle had already reprimanded the VRT about the use of so-called ‘prerolls’ at the start of broadcasts, especially with live streams. According to the CD&V minister, these advertising messages thwart the digital strategy of the public broadcaster and the practice is contrary to the management agreement. According to Dalle, the VRT has promised that there will be an “extinction strategy”, he said on October 27.

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