In the Belgian federal structure, the Communities are responsible for broadcasting, including broadcast transmission (e.g. cable tv, terrestrial transmission, satellite).
As a consequence, the Communities have certain responsibilities under the new EU regulatory framework for electronic communications, including as regards the authorisation of electronic communications networks, and to conduct market analyses.
The Official Journal (Moniteur Belge) of 9 Aug 2004 contains the transposition measures of the Flemish Community, i.e. a Decree (the equivalent of a law at Flemish level) which substantially modifies previous Decrees on radio and television broadcasting.
The modifications address:
– New authorisation modalities for radio services (including Internet radio), television services (including Video-on-Demand), cable networks, terrestrial broadcast networks and satellite broadcast networks. Only the terrestrial broadcast networks are subject to an individual licence; the other categories are subject to a registration procedure, although detailed rights and obligations are established by the decree.
– Rights-of-way for the establishment of cable networks.
– Designation of the “Vlaams Commissariaat voor de Media” as the entity that carries out the function of National Regulatory Authority, within the Flemish Community, including responsibilities for defining product and geographic markets, market analysis, designation of operators with Significant Market Power, and the determination of regulatory obligations (‘remedies’).
T-REGS Note: the relevant markets are not pre-defined in the Decree (i.e. it is not limited to Market 18 of the European Commission’s Recommendation on Relevant Markets Susceptible to Ex-Ante Regulation), but the market analysis section is tied to electronic communications networks (not services). It will be most interesting to see which markets the “Vlaams Commissariaat voor de Media” will define and whether there will be any overlap with the Federal-level market definitions, which are being prepared by the Belgian Institute for Postal services and Telecommunications (BIPT).
The full text of the Flemish Community Decree (in Dutch and in French translation) can be accessed by clicking here. (page 84 and following of the .pdf file)