By Jessica DeLoach
This morning we were given insight to the media landscape of the nation of Belgium at the Hogeschool Universiteit Brussel (HUB) by Hedwig Desmaele, a journalism professor at the school. She provided statistics on newspaper, magazine, radio and television preferences for Belgium, delineating between the three cultural regions that divide the nation. From the Flemish north to the French south to the capital city of Brussels area, each group has slightly different preferences, all of which differing from the common practices of the United States.
One of the statistics that caught my attention was the prolific use of the newspapers as a source of information for reliable news, celebrity updates and even home and garden insights. Belgium still relies on the printed copy of the nations varying newspapers for the information rather than subscribing to the more online or digital versions to receive their news. Right at 50 percent of Belgians do not read news on online sites; rather they see the online version of the news as more “frou frou” information that was not relevant enough to make it into the newspaper.
Another interesting fact that Hedwig mentioned was the separation of media by regions, for example, the French and Flemish language preferences cause the need for television stations to be divided by language. I noticed as I was flipping through the television channels that this holds true. Some channels or networks are solely French, some are Dutch, some are English, and some are a mixture of languages. It would be interesting to research this more in depth in the future, and to investigate how the programming and advertising differs from culture to culture.
Another interesting concept that the professor mentioned about television is that the number one network that is watched by the masses, is PSB, or public service broadcasting, funded by the government. The Belgian PSB network holds almost a monopoly of the television market by showing all the top rated shows every day with limited to no commercial advertising. It surprised me because in the US, our PBS is rarely subscribed to unless there is a one-off documentary or mini series that catches our attention. We tend to lean toward the networks that compete for our attention and have millions of dollars of advertising running the stations, like ABC, FOX, and NBC. It will be interesting to see what media outlets I notice now that I know the media preferences of Belgians and continue to mentally compare and contrast those to the US preferences.