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Fake News: Belgian News Magazine Misrepresents Amateur Radio Numbers


The Belgian Dutch-language weekly The Sunday (de Zondag) recently reported incorrectly that just 153 Amateur Radio licensees existed in the country, dramatically proclaiming, “Amateur Radio permits have dropped drastically in 5 years,” and asking, “Where have the radio hobbyists gone?” The error was based on a misunderstood parliamentary exchange. The facts are that 153 new licenses were issued in Belgium last year, and that 4,702 call signs have been assigned to individuals.

The magazine’s subsequent correction accurately reported “about 5,000 radio amateurs” in Belgium, but introduced another error by stating that the number 153 referred to the number of radio stations (free channels). The story appears to have been pulled from the magazine’s website.

Elsewhere in Europe, statistics in France show a declining ham radio population there, with 13,126 licensees in 2018, a 1.2% drop from a year earlier. That compares with 19,540 hams in France in 1996.

Germany reports 64,476 Amateur Radio licensees in 2018, about the same as a year earlier but reflecting an overall decline. In 2000, Germany boasted 79,380 licensees. — Thanks to Southgate Amateur Radio News and other sources