Skip to main content



Population: 11.7 million
Internet penetration: 92%
17th June 2024

Belgium has two distinct media markets: French-speaking Wallonia and Flemish-speaking Flanders. Established news media are still pursuing further consolidation, while room for small players old and new remains limited.

In Belgium, industry figures from the Centre of Information on the Media (CIM)1 show a mixed picture for the combined online and offline reach of established news media brands. In Flanders, local paper Het Belang van Limburg and financial paper De Tijd saw an increase of around 7%, regional paper Gazet van Antwerpen of 3%. DPGMedia’s Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen remain stable, while the Mediahuis titles Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard decrease with around 6% and 9% respectively.

On the French-speaking side, L’Echo, the sister publication of De Tijd, is the only one to see slight growth. All other French-language titles record significant declines. La Libre (-14%), L’Avenir (-11%), Le Soir (-11%), La Dernière Heure (-10%), and Sudinfo (-5%) have suffered heavy losses. We can see how Belgium’s two main news markets are fundamentally different, which is also reflected in the gap for print consumption in Digital News Report data. In Flanders, we can observe a pattern of behaviour that is more typical of northern Europe: overall, the population remains very attached to the written press, whereas in southern Europe there is a preference for broadcast media.

Profitability in both markets continues to be affected by declining advertising revenues, rising costs, most notably for energy, paper, and labour, and audiences moving to online news. The latest casualty of these combined forces was the free daily Metro, distributed in both Dutch and French in public transport stations, whose owner Groupe Rossel closed it in October 2023 because the paper was loss making. New players do emerge, such as the snappy, meme-inspired Instagram Dutch-language account @cestmocro which is popular in the Netherlands and Flanders. However, the fact that some are anonymous, and often spread misinformation and engage with the extreme right, rather illustrates the kind of news outlets that can take root in such a fragile news market.

The Belgian government’s decision to end their longstanding subsidy for newspaper distribution has added to the problems. Publishers can now no longer count on home deliveries by BPost at below-market rates but will need to negotiate with commercial distribution services. They still enjoy some government support, but the total subsidy has been cut by two-thirds. The details of the new support regime, and its start date, are still being discussed, prompting concern amongst many publishers.

For legacy news organisations, the strategic response to falling domestic profit margins remains to expand their operations, in the hope of creating synergies that will in time pay off. For example, Roularta Media acquired the magazines Happinez, Yoga, Psychologie, and FLOW, and seeks to integrate these within its existing web store. Mediahuis acquired the remaining shares of its German subsidiary Medienhaus Aachen, where it had bought a 70% share in early 2022. In December 2023 DPG Media, after taking control of a major part of the Dutch newspaper market via years of acquisitions, finalised its takeover of broadcaster RTL Nederland, hoping for further synergies in terms of content production and advertising.

At some point, these synergies lead to layoffs, as happened in February 2024 when Mediahuis announced it would shed around 20 posts including some editors. ‘We are evolving into a future-proof marketing organisation around specific digital expertise centres. These must make maximum use of the knowledge available across the four titles,’ says CEO Koen Verwee,2 demonstrating how digital transformation and organisational efficiencies go hand in hand. That trend may accelerate as most news outlets are currently exploring the uses of AI. This has led the Council for Journalism to produce guidelines on the implementation of artificial intelligence in journalism, underscoring the need for editorial accountability and public transparency.

Amidst this turmoil, it is reassuring that journalists still express a high degree of job satisfaction, valuing content diversity, intellectual stimulation, and autonomy. However, opinions on workload are split, with a majority reporting increased duties and job insecurity. Moreover, more than half of journalists face harassment at work, with verbal aggression being the most common.3 A significant proportion encounters various forms of intimidation, with women particularly affected by sexual harassment and discrimination. Sadly, most of this behaviour goes unreported.

Ike Picone
Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel 

Pay for online news


Flemish-speaking: 15%

French-speaking: 14%

Listen to podcast in the last month


Flemish-speaking: 26%

French-speaking: 28%


Trust in news overall



Flemish-speaking: 51%

French-speaking: 35%

Flemish-speaking Flanders (51%) and French-speaking Wallonia (35%) continue to feature a significant trust gap. This gap also translates to brand trust scores, which are significantly higher and more resilient in Flanders than in Wallonia. In both markets, the respective public broadcasters VRT and RTBF remain the most trusted news sources, even though some commercial organisations feature similarly high scores.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 81.49

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at


1 Centre for Information on the Media, ‘New Reach Data for the Press’, 17 Oct. 2023.

2 Apache, ‘Ontslagen bij Mediahuis brengen einde van papieren krant dichterbij’ (19 Feb. 2024).

3 CJS-ReSiC, ‘Portret van Belgische journalisten 2023: weinig divers, loonkloof en geconfronteerd met grensoverschrijdend gedrag’.

Editor's note: In a previous version of this page, we stated wrongly that Mediahuis had announced it would shed 120 posts including some editors-in-chief. As the text says now, the company is actually shedding 20 posts, including editors (not editors-in-chief).