The EU’s support of an average of €24.5 million a year has helped Euronews to develop a unique business model and broadcast programmes on EU affairs in a number of languages, according to a new rapid case review by the European Court of Auditors. However, most citizens in the EU are unable to access it, as the channel is not a public service broadcaster in any Member State. Moreover, the auditors identified shortcomings in the way the European Commission monitors the performance of Euronews against agreed objectives and commitments made.
Euronews was created in 1993 by ten European public broadcasters to reinforce European identity and integration, and the EU has provided it with financial support since then. In recent years, it has changed its ownership structure by acquiring private investors. The auditors analysed the funding of the channel from 2014 to 2018 and how the Commission monitored its partnership agreement with Euronews for the period 2017 to 2020.
EU funding is a fundamental part of Euronews’ income and represents around a third of its annual turnover, say the auditors. Its contracts with the Commission between 2014 and 2018 amounted to €122 million, an average of €24.5 million a year.
The auditors found that Euronews could not maintain its geographic and linguistic coverage without support from the EU. However, they warn that most citizens in the EU are unable to access it, as the channel is not carried on all networks – cable, satellite and digital terrestrial.
“The EU provides a major source of revenues to a TV channel that is mostly privately owned,” said Mihails Kozlovs, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the review. “The European Commission should verify annually if Euronews complies with the commitments on preserving its editorial impartiality and a European perspective. But we found no formal link between these commitments and the Commission’s criteria for annually awarding the funds.”