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French TV chief takes over Eurovision organisers EBU

France Television chief executive Delphine Ernotte vowed to defend Europe’s “cultural and technological sovereignty” when she was elected Friday as the first female president of the European Broadcasting Union.

Ernotte, who had been vice president of the Geneva-based EBU that puts together the annual Eurovision Song Contest, will replace former BBC director-general Tony Hall.

Founded in 1950, the EBU is the world’s biggest public service media alliance.

Chosen by an absolute majority during the alliance’s first virtual general assembly, Ernotte will run the EBU for two years from January 1.

“The health crisis has underlined the major democratic role played by public service media in accessing free and trusted information,” Ernotte said.

“The diversity of our countries and our cultures is a major strength in confronting global media platforms.”

Ernotte vowed to uphold Europe’s “cultural and technological sovereignty”.

The EBU has 115 member organisations in 56 countries, as well as 34 associates in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Famously, it organises Eurovision, the kitsch annual televised pop music extravaganza watched by hundreds of millions each year.

Eurovision was cancelled this year for the first time in its 64-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rotterdam will get its chance to host the glitzy event next year instead.

Besides Eurovision, the EBU shares knowledge across the broadcasting industry, particularly in technological advances.

It negotiates global sport content deals in a bid to keep major events on public service television.