Only "politically neutral" music in Brussels metro

You will hear no Francophone or Flemish music in the Brussels metro stations or underground tram stations. This is not a coincidence: Belgian music from either side of the language divide is being avoided to avoid political discussions.

The Brussels public transport company MIVB (or STIB in French) will stick to a list with only English, Spanish or Italian songs to be broadcast through its public address system.

An experiment in April involved a playlist with a selection of the international hit lists. This accidentally included a couple of songs by Brussels or Walloon artists in French. Immediately, the MIVB received dozens of complaints from angry commuters arguing that there should also be room for the better Flemish songs.

In order not to set the cat among the pigeons, the MIVB has now decided not to continue the experiment. The company will continue to apply its old formula, which includes 70 percent English-speaking songs, 15 percent Italian-speaking and 15 percent Spanish-speaking records. According to the MIVB, this formula "creates the least problems."

The formula was introduced in 2005 to replace the muzak which could be heard in the metro stations until then. At the time, 85 percent of the travellers indicated to be content with the switch. In order to keep the peace in difficult political times, the MIVB will stick to the old music system.