Belgian Radio tunes out of TuneIn

By James Cridland for
Posted 4 May 2017, 1.15pm edt

Some public radio stations in Belgium are no longer on TuneIn after a disagreement with the US-based aggregator, has learnt.

French-speaking RTBF stations are no longer on TuneIn, after the radio aggregator started selling radio advertising in front of RTBF's streams. RTBF is part-funded by radio advertising that it sells through RMB.

Francis Goffin, RTBF's Director of Radio, told me that their stations have been removed after TuneIn sold advertising on their streams, via a Belgian advertising sales house.

"We wrote to them to ask them to stop marketing our streams without our agreement. They removed our stations from their platform at the end of last year, and have since suggested that we pay them if we wish to return to their platform without advertising," said Francis Goffin.

TuneIn was, he estimates, responsible for around 10% of their stream traffic. The stations remain unavailable from TuneIn. He describes the company's behaviour as "blackmail".

Flemish public broadcaster VRT, which has over 60% market share in Flemish radio, was also removed by TuneIn for a period of three weeks, after the VRT's legal department complained to the company that they were monetising VRT streams without VRT's permission.

VRT produces a station for young kids called Ketnet. Advertising to children is prohibited by law in Belgium, yet TuneIn was selling advertising before that stream.

"After three weeks of negotiations we were able to make an acceptable and fair deal and get our streams restored," Els Van de Sijpe, Manager Radio, VRT told me. "We got a lot of complaints from users, especially users of hardware systems like Sonos".

"It’s really an important issue, because TuneIn is not the only aggregation platform. There are also companies like radioline, Phonostar, etc. all trying to exploit a similar business model," added Van de Sijpe.

"Our strategy", added RTBF's Francis Goffin, "is to push the development of and compete with the international aggregators."

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.

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