The Belgian State Council (Conseil d’Etat) has ruled that RTL can operate its Belgian French language channels under a Luxembourg licence. Earlier, the Walloon media authority CSA said the broadcasts were illegal without a Belgian licence and slapped a €500,000 fine on RTL.
The RTL Group operates three channels in the French speaking part of the country – RTL-TVi, Plug RTL and RTL Club – distributed via cable, DSL and, since last December, on the TeleSat DTH platform.
Originally, the channels operated under a Walloon licence, but three years ago, RTL decided to use its Luxembourg licence. (The issueing of broadcast licences is regulated by the regional governments rather than the national government).
The CSA ruled that since that date RTL operated illegally and should seek permission under a Walloon licence. At the same time, it ordered a fine of €500,000.
The broadcaster appealed and the State Council has now ruled that a Luxembourg licence is indeed sufficient, thanks to European rules regarding broadcasting and the free flow of information and trade.
At the moment, the three Belgian RTL channels are not available on digital terrestrial in Belgium, only in Luxembourg itself as free-to-air services.