A strict approach to gambling behavior in the programmes, the reduction of income from gambling advertising and strict rules regarding the broadcasting times of sponsors. That is the core of the VRT’s new gambling policy. But the Lotto draw, which may remain on the screen.
The public broadcaster had made that commitment in the new management agreement with the Flemish government. With this approach, the VRT wants to help combat gambling addiction by drastically reducing exposure to advertising for games of chance. That will happen year after year and “provides time to work out alternatives to the loss of revenue”.
For example, the volume of that advertising must decrease, both on television – including from three structural partners to one – and online. The VRT foresees an annual reduction of 20 percent for the digital channels and no new gambling companies are allowed for VRT NU. But: “If such a company sponsors a sporting event and visibility is essential for acquiring the broadcasting rights, that form of advertising will be maintained under strict rules.”
Gambling is also treated cautiously in the program offerings and with the screen faces. “Program makers will be coached on how to approach gambling and addiction and the VRT voices and faces are not allowed to promote games of chance on social media, in advertising or at events. External employees who work for the VRT only sporadically will also have to ask for permission first.”
And what about the broadcast of the Lotto draw? “The National Lottery has a different statute and the specific task of organizing responsible gaming. We treat them, just like the government itself, differently from the private players on the market,” it sounds.
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The stricter rules were drawn up in consultation with media users, organizations such as the Flemish Expertise Center for Alcohol and Other Drugs (VAD) and after intensive consultation with the cabinet of Media Minister Benjamin Dalle (CD&V). The latter says that he is “satisfied that the VRT is making quick work of the agreements, because too many people become addicted to gambling”. “We are taking a big step towards a gambling-free society with this,” he concludes. The first steps should be visible from January 2022.(bpr)