Xavier Bettel, the prime minister and media minister, addresses parliament on the state of the nation on 26 April 2016
Photo: Chambre des députés
Parliament has approved the new contract with RTL in which the government promises to cover the deficit of RTL television in exchange of it fulfilling a public service broadcasting mission.
Prime minister and minister for the media Xavier Bettel presented to parliament the new modalities for a contract with the CLT UFA and RTL group on Thursday 23 March.
Bettel argued that a national TV station which was in Luxembourgish and dealt mostly with political, cultural, social issues, and sports, in Luxembourg was important.
However, he was against creating a public broadcasting channel, in the light of ADR in Germany or the BBC in the UK, saying the costs were too high, and that RTL Télé had been fulfilling that mission rather well in the past. He cited a recent study which showed that 146,000 people watched RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg daily.
Short debate in parliament
Parliament approved the new contract by majority, including the CSV. Only the ADR and Déi Lénk voted against.
The ADR said that neutrality and a proper reflection of all the opinions were not guaranteed as long as three parliamentary group leaders were members of the board of directors of CLT UFA (Eugène Berger of the DP, Alex Bodry from the LSAP, and Claude Wiseler from the CSV). Déi Lénk criticised the fact that a commercial company was put in charge of informing the public in a neutral way, saying that was impossible.
The new contract will, in contrast to previous ones, only last for three years (from 2021-2023). The maximum the state will disburse to RTL Télé will be €10 million per year. Bettel insisted this was not a blank check and there was no set annual budget. There will be internal and external audits and RTL has agreed not to use any public funds for any other media, such as its website or radio station.
In exchange, CLT-UFA must ensure the quality of its “public service mission”. It also must create a news programme which features sign language, and expand its subtitles in French.