Dutch language global channel drops satellite distribution in most parts of the world after Flemish broadcaster stops funding BVN.
The international channel for Dutch speakers around the world, with programmes from public service broadcasters in the Netherlands and Belgium, is changing.
From 1st July, programmes from Belgium’s VRT will no longer broadcast on the channel. Viewers wanting to catch-up on soap opera Thuis, the Tetris-style games show Blokken or the main VRT news will need to switch to the VRT Nu or VRT NWS apps. Outside the EU, programmes are restricted to VRT’s own productions. BVN will continue with a mix of programmes from NPO1, NPO2 and NPO3 only.
The loss of funding means the Dutch broadcaster NPO can no longer maintain the channel’s international satellite footprint.
- On 1st May, broadcasts for Africa via SES-5 will end.
- Then on 1st July, the BVN signal will be cut from satellite in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. The following satellites are affected: AsiaSat 5 (Asia), Optus D2 (Australia, New Zealand), Galaxy 19 (US / Canada).
- Finally, on 1st November 2021, BVN will end broadcasting on Multichoice / DStv in southern Africa.
After this date, BVN will only be available via Astra 1M (19.2E) in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East as well as on Eutelsat’s 113W service for the Caribbean (including the Netherlands Antilles) and Latin America. Outside of these areas, viewers are being redirected to the BVN website and app. Viewers may also choose the main NPO apps and website, but some content is geo-blocked.
VRT radio cut back
In addition to this, Belgium’s VRT will also end the free-to-air reception of its two radio stations on Astra 19.2 – VRT Radio 1 and VRT Radio 2. This stations will continue on satellite as part of the encrypted channel offer provided by TV Vlaandern. But VRT radio continues as normal via the VRT Radio app. VRT has posted information about the changes on its website.
The changes are being driven by the Flemish Minister for Media and a need to reduce costs. In 2018, the broadcaster announced it would end its free-to-air terrestrial TV broadcasts, becoming the first European public service broadcaster to do so. With the except of its online service, all radio and TV distribution is done via third party TV platforms, of which cable is the most dominant in the country.