Belgium - Media

International and domestic telegraph and telephone service, operated by a government agency, is well developed. There were 4,769,000 main line telephones in use in 1997 and 974,494 mobile cellular phones.

National radio and television service is organized into Dutch and French branches. Commercial broadcasting is permitted, hence costs are defrayed through annual license fees on radio and television receivers. There are two national medium-wave stations, one broadcasting in French, the other in Dutch. In addition, there are five Dutch-language and three French-language regional stations. Three shortwave transmitters are used for overseas broadcasts. As of 1999, there were 5 AM and 77 FM radio stations and 24 television stations. Cable television subscribers can receive up to 13 additional stations, from the UK and Belgium's continental neighbors. In 1997 there were 8 million radios and 4.7 million television sets.

The Belgian press has full freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution of 1831. Newspapers are published in French and Dutch, and generally reflect the views of one of the major parties. Agence Belga is the official news agency. Principal Belgian dailies with their 2002 circulations were as follows:


De Standaard Dutch Flemish-Catholic 372,000
Het Laatste Nieuws Flemish Independent 308,808
Le Soir French Independent 178,500
La Lanterne French Socialist 129,800
La Libre Belgique French Catholic-Independent 80,000
De Gazet van Antwerpen Dutch Christian Democrat 148,000
La Nouvelle Gazette French Liberal 94,600
Het Volk/Nieuwe Gids Dutch Catholic-Labor 143,300

About 500 weeklies appear in Belgium, most of them in French or Dutch and a few in German or English. Their overall weekly circulation is estimated to exceed 6.5 million copies.

The government of Belgium supports free speech and a free press. There are some restrictions on the press regarding slander, libel, and the advocating of racial or ethnic hate, violence, or discrimination.

As of 2000, there were 61 Internet service providers with 2.8 million Internet users in 2001.

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