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Belgium: Regulatory Authorities

Raad voor de Journalistiek (Council for Journalism in Belgium)

The Raad voor de Journalistiek (RvdJ) is the independent body for self-regulation of the Flemish press in Belgium. It is a non-governmental organisation, which responds to questions and handles complaints from the public about the journalistic conduct of the press.

The RvdJ was formed in 2002 by the journalist unions and by publishers and media houses in Flanders. It is funded half by the publishers and the audiovisual media companies, and half by the journalist union (VVJ). VVJ receives a subsidy from the Flemish community for this purpose.

The Raad voor de Journalistiek has 18 members: 6 journalists, 6 representatives of the publishers and the media houses, and 6 members who are not involved in the media. Its current chairman is a judge at the Supreme Administrative Court in Belgium. In addition a secretary-general is appointed who is responsible for the running of the organisation.

The secretary-general is also the ombudsman of the RvdJ. He answers any questions from the public about press ethics. In his role as an ombudsman, the secretary-general mediates when a complaint is filed. He talks with the complainant and the involved journalist or media organisation to try to achieve an ‘out of council’ settlement. In most cases, a satisfactory settlement can be obtained.

If no settlement is possible, the complaint is brought before the Raad voor the Journalistiek by the secretary-general. The RvdJ takes a decision after having heard all parties. The decisions of the RvdJ are published on its website and in the magazine ‘De Journalist’. As part of its decision the RvdJ is authorised to ask the involved newspaper, or the television or radio programme to publish a rectification.

Filing a complaint with the Raad voor de Journalistiek is free of charge. Complaints must be in writing and can be filed by the concerned persons or organisations.

The Raad voor de Journalistiek aims to provide the public with a free and fast way of redressing possible mistakes by the media. The RvdJ also acts as a forum for discussion about the ethics of journalism. Its decisions are meant to underline the rules of good journalistic practice and to encourage ethical and professional standards of journalism. In 2010, the RvdJ has published a new code of practice, that you can find here (pdf).

For the French and German speaking press in Belgium, there is a similar council, the  Conseil de déontologie journalistique. All information on the CDJ can be found on its website www.deontologiejournalistique.be.

Raad voor de Journalistiek
IPC Residence Palace, 3e verdieping 3/217, Wetstraat 155, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +3222302717
Email: info@rvdj.be

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Conseil de Déontologie journalistique (Council for ethical journalism)

The Conseil de Déontologie journalistique (CDJ), created in 2009, is an organization for self-regulation of the French- and German-language media in Belgium. It consists of representatives of publishers, journalists, editors and civil society. It has three distinct functions: information, mediation and regulation.

Most journalists working in Belgium do indeed want to comply with a code of ethics, although constraints on the media, particularly economic pressure, do not make things easier. The aspiration of creating a council for ethical journalism is not a new idea, and long efforts have been made in recent years by editors and journalists alike. On 30 April 2009, the Parliament of the French Community voted a decree giving official status to CDJ. The new Conseil de déontologie journalistique is not the first of its kind. But for the very first time it brings journalists and editors together, it has a legal status and it enjoys considerable financing, giving it a certain sustainability.

CDJ’s utility is thus both “internal” for journalists and “external” for the public. Contributing to quality information and the citizens’ right to be correctly informed is the ultimate goal of the assignments entrusted to CDJ.

Conseil de déontologie journalistique et A. A. D. J.
Résidence Palace, bloc C, Rue de la Loi 155 bte 103, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgium
Tel. : 02/2802514
Fax : 02/2802515
Email: info[at]deontologiejournalistique.be
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeontoloJ

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The research leading to this website has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No. 244147.