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Belgian wisdom and French spirit

Radio is celebrating 100 years in Belgium and it still manages to remain relevant.

In France 126 independent stations use their collective power to stave off competition from larger stations. Dirk Soeten (VAR, Belgium) and Jean-Eric Valli (Les Indés Radio and Group 1981) shared their expertise in attracting advertising revenue.

Belgian radio is the third most important medium for advertising and its market share continues to expand. The country also boasts amongst the highest listening time in Europe.


Radio is important to Belgians, explained Soeten, for the same reasons it matters across the world: It’s work-friendly, it helps relaxation and it is considered a reliable source of information. More than that, however, Belgian radio stations understand the power of branding and of producing cross-media content.

The national public broadcaster, VRT, also invests in producing in-depth research. Studies, such as the Diva Study, demonstrate the reach of radio advertisements.


Jean-Eric Valli talked about Les Indés Radio – “the market’s big surprise”. When the diverse, colourful French independent radio market was under threat from larger stations monopolising local ad revenue, the cooperation of the independent stations turned the situation on its head. The group now boasts a collective audience of 8.5 million listeners and a net turnover of 85.5 million euros. What began as a counter-offensive, said Valli, is now a major player.

When asked if the Les Indés Radio model could be translated in other countries, Valli responded that it was possible but certain conditions were a necessary prerequisite. There must be a lot of independent stations gathering a huge audience nationally, the audience measurement system must be recognised by the whole market and, of course, the station should already be established in the market.