Communication Technology in Belgium

By Roberta Jackson

The Culmination of COM 7600…
At any time there are anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500 foreign correspondents in Brussels, Belgium. The Residence Palace-International Press Centre (IPC) provides office space, a small studio, transmission space, a make-up room, or private rooms for sensitive issues (such as crisis communication on a product recall) for average reporters to CEOs of major multinational corporations. Even Prince Philip visited the facility last month. The IPC has also been known to double as a temporary living quarters, in rare occasions, when a reporter has lost a contract and had no place to live.

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This state-of- the-art facility is a journalists haven. They have everything to meet the needs of any communications professional, whether journalists or foreign correspondent. The IPC is also a has conference space, full equipped with individual microphones located in the seating along with translators. IPC has 15 satellites located on the roof that can transmit to or receive information from anywhere in the world. Most major new stations have presence in Brussels, with the exception of American-based news stations such as CNN and Fox. CNN has chosen London as their hub and only travel to Brussels if there is a major or breaking news.
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The IPC consider themselves the epicenter of European news. This title is well deserved because they are have direct fibre optic connections to most of the political institutions, due to their central location, and can receive and transmit information in seconds through the IPC subsidiary Vidoehouse. The facility for the next European Union’s President is currently being constructed at the end of wing A of the Residence Palace. Although IPC is a federal state institution, they do not censor or promote the 20130606-114418.jpggovernment’s agenda. There is no Belgium governmental influence. European states can share information with the press in one location. There is even construction to build a train line under the building so clients can get from their facility to anywhere in Brussels without leaving the building.

20130606-121147.jpgIt was refreshing to learn about the openness and trust between the government and the press. The IPC are advocates of the journalists and freely share information. This is very different from the US where the journalist-government relationships is more adversarial. The IPC create free tailor made information packets for reporters and journalists working remotely through presscentre.org (a service of IPC). The IPC integrates with the Belga Press Agency who uploads and distributes press releases and news stories free of charge, unlike PR Newswire that provides these services for a fee.

Parliamentariam – The European Parliament’s Visitors Centre…

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We entered the Parliamentariam and were met by slight confusion. Everyone had a purse or pack, but for some reason, one of our professors was singled out and was asked to secure their bag in a locker because packs were not allowed in the museum. I believe this professor reminded the guard of someone who was either mean or rude to him in the past and he decided to exercise his authority; however the minor delay of tour did not hinder our visit, but offered another conversation topic for dinner later that evening.

While waiting for our professor, we were all given a device that resembled an iPod touch and an earpiece that would provide information about the different exhibits, during our self guided tour. The devices were available in over 20 different languages. In our communication technology class last semester, we discussed the different ways technology can be utilized in technology. Our professor talked about using Google specs. The glasses work the same as the iPod expect you wear the device over your eyes and can access information through your glasses versus a hand-held device.

IMG_0079I toured the museum at my leisure, as we were allowed on our own, with instructions to meet back at a designated location within 2 hours. I took down some information about the history of the European Union, their function, and their relevance and significance in Europe. I did not know the EU won the Nobel Piece Prize in 2012 for their “contribution for over six decades to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe.” I feel much more informed for our actual visit to the EU Council of Ministries on Friday.

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