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VRT puts coin in interactive shows

Pubcaster's 2004 budget increases 3%

BRUSSELS — Flemish-language pubcaster VRT plans to spend e100 million ($136 million) over 24 months on cameras, studio equipment and interactive TV projects.

VRT’s budget for 2004 is $458 million, a 3% increase from last year. Funding comes from state subsidies, sponsorship and advertising.

VRT also is looking at using Belgium’s mobile phone network to offer TV programs, CEO Tony Mary said Tuesday.

Pubcaster had a good year in 2003, holding on to the position of market leader it won in 2002 for the first time since the introduction of commercial TV in Flanders in 1989. Flagship net TV1 got 27.9% of Flemish viewers, making it the largest channel in the region, while special-interest channel Canvas/Ketnet beat all of its rivals with a score of 9.7%.

Total audience share of 37.6% is a marked improvement on the score of 22.6% VRT recorded in 1995, down from 31.5% in 1989.

News was main driver of VRT’s success in 2003, with its key 9 p.m. bulletin getting 7.2% more viewers than the rival offering from commercial broadcaster VTM.

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