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Euronews: Turkish content and its European perspective

Question écrite de M. Costas MAVRIDES - Commission européenne

Question de M. Costas MAVRIDES,

Diffusée le 17 novembre 2020

Subject: Euronews: Turkish content and its European perspective

In 1992, the European Broadcasting Union decided to create the Euronews channel to present information from a ‘European perspective’. Euronews is currently owned (about 88 %) by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ company Media Globe Networks. Sawiris is the chairman of the Euronews supervisory board, but lives outside EU jurisdiction. In 2009, the Turkish state broadcaster TRT became a major shareholder (with 15.7 % of the channel’s shares) in Euronews and joined its supervisory board. At the same time, Turkish was added as the ninth language service, which still exists today even though TRT seems to have withdrawn as a shareholder.

A recent European Court of Auditors (ECA) report stated that there was no formal link between Euronews’s commitment to preserving its editorial impartiality and European perspective and the Commission’s criteria for awarding it funds.

Considering any indirect influence from TRT in Euronews’ editorial policy and TRT’s recent stance of vigorously opposing freedom of speech in Turkey:

1. Is the Commission aware of who, at present, sponsors or produces Turkish content on Euronews and who ensures the European perspective?

2. Who can assess editorial impartiality in the absence of an appropriate mechanism for doing so, which was pointed out by the ECA?

3. When is the Commission going to respond to the ECA report and set up an editorial impartiality mechanism for the Euronews TV channel?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 4 mars 2021

Answer given by Mr Breton on behalf of the European Commission

(5 March 2021)

1. The Commission funds the production and dissemination of European programmes, as well as the production of Euronews in several European and non-European languages (Hungarian, Greek, Portuguese, Farsi and Arabic). The Turkish service is funded by Euronews. It is subject to the same editorial arrangements and oversights as any other linguistic service.

2. Euronews has full editorial independence. As part of its contractual arrangements with the Commission, it must guarantee its commitment to unbiased, pluralistic and independent information, as well as to its editorial principles and editorial governance mechanisms. The editorial content is regularly assessed by Euronews’ editorial board and an external institute, the Osservatorio di Pavia. Euronews publishes annually a transparency report with information in this regard.

3. The Commission has looked very closely into the conclusions of European Court of Auditors’s Rapid Case review (1) and has addressed them through a set of actions. The Commission has monitored regularly the performance and added-value of the Commission-funded actions through cyclical, independent audits and evaluations. The latest content analysis (2020) suggests that Euronews has ‘well established procedures to support editorial quality, balance, independence and impartiality, and that these appear to be operating effectively’.

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