By Irene Kostaki-Journalist, New Europe
An evaluation by the European Court of Auditors concerning Lyon-based television news network Euronews’ €24.5 million in annual funding found that the multilingual broadcaster has been successful when it comes to introducing better reporting practices, but that it needs to be better scrutinised in order to guarantee that it follows through with its commitments if it wants to still receive Brussels’ financial support.
Euronews is not a public broadcaster and most European citizens do not have access to its broadcasts. The auditors also identified shortcomings in the way in which the European Commission assesses the performance of Euronews against the agreed objectives and commitments.
“The EU provides a major source of revenue to a TV channel that is mostly privately owned,” said Mihails Kozlovs, the chief auditor responsible for the review. “The European Commission should annually verify if Euronews complies with its commitments to preserving its editorial impartiality and a European perspective. We did not fine, however, a formal link between these commitments and the Commission’s criteria for annually awarding the funds.”
The multilingual 24-hour news TV channel was launched in 1993 by 10 European public broadcasters belonging to the European Broadcasting Union with the aim of reinforcing European identity and integration.
The Commission has provided support to the broadcaster since its inception and in 2010 the EU began providing funds through successive Framework Partnership Agreements to allow the network to”contribute to the European general interest in the field of information”.
In 2014, the Commission set out to overhaul Euronews to make it more sustainable by developing its public service remit and helping to identify new partners by making better use of digital transmission technologies.
Between 2015-2017, two new private shareholders acquired Euronews’share capital, which resulted in the channel being 85% owned by private investors, namely Luxembourg-based Media Globe Networks (60%) and the US network NBC (25%). The remaining 15% is owned by EU and non-EU broadcasters, as well as by local public authorities. Despite this, the Commission committed €19.96 million to support the network in 2018.