VBRO Plus in the West Flemish ether, no more Villa Bota on FM

Jimmy Frey should record a new (West Flemish) version of ‘Push a bit’: “There’s still room for a VBRO”. Since yesterday VBRO Plus can be heard in Bruges (106.4 MHz) and Torhout (107.9 MHz). After more than 4.5 years, Villa Bota was put on hold.

The frequency package 44 in West Flanders was allocated to the vzw VRT-Houtlandradio in 2017. It is no secret that this non-profit organization belongs to the ‘sphere of influence’ of Frederik Thomas, boss of VBRO. He himself was in the non-profit organization until April 2017 and then had himself replaced, because, as is known, he was himself in the running for one of the network radios.

In 2017, the city of Bruges set up a construction whereby Villa Bota, at that time a Bruges internet radio for young people and part of Het Entrepot, would try to obtain an FM license. The main protagonists of that idea were radio producer Marnix Dobbelaere, herself involved as a volunteer with Villa Bota, and alderman Franky Demon (CD&V), then chairman of Het Entrepot.

Because time was short and the procedure was complex, it was decided to take Frederik Thomas under the arm, who still has a number of non-profit organizations ready and waiting in his drawer. The Villa Bota project was submitted via its non-profit organization VRT-Houtlandradio and – as the only candidate for package 44 – obtained the license without any problems.

Villa Bota went on February 17, 2018 started via both frequencies, although the station only communicated the Bruges 106.4 MHz via its own channels. Quite strange, because the 107.9 MHz in Torhout was also used and is also about the best undisturbed local frequency you can find in all of West Flanders.

But now 4.5 years later there is apparently a hitch between Villa Bota and Frederik Thomas. Via his social media, Villa Bota unexpectedly announced a ‘coffee table’ “for the disappearance of our FM frequency”.

And indeed, since yesterday VBRO Plus can be heard on both frequencies, with a non-stop ‘old school’ format, with only songs that characterized the VBRO from the early 80s. The stream of the new product can you hear here.

According to some informants, the dispute with Villa Bota was purely financial in nature. Villa Bota has never paid a euro for the use of the channels. Thomas has reportedly been pushing for fair compensation for electricity and other fixed utility costs for a long time, but apparently ran into a wall near the town, the de facto owner of Villa Bota. He then issued an ultimatum at the beginning of July, which expired on August 31. There was no solution and so Thomas pulled the plug on the FM broadcasts of Villa Bota.

Villa Bota will therefore only continue as web radio. Villa Bota once started in 2009 as one of the then radio labs of the REC Radiocentrum. The station was also a candidate last year to participate in the West Flemish test mux on DAB+, but eventually dropped out for financial reasons.

The article is in Dutch


Tags: VBRO West Flemish ether Villa Bota

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