Broadcasting union slams budget cuts in Europe's state media

21st April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The European Broadcasting Union on Wednesday hit out at budget cuts and government interference in public broadcasting, warning that they hurt programme quality.

"Budgets for public television were cut in several countries," the new EBU chief Ingrid Deltenre told AFP, pointing to Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania and Moldova as examples.

Underlining the increasing pressure on public broadcasting services, Deltenre said: "Over the past years, we have noticed a politicisation of public services. On the other hand, financial pressure is also increasing."

"In several countries, there is a significant rotation in management at public channels for political reasons," she added.

Such changes influenced "the quality of programmes", warned Deltenre, who took over in January as director of the EBU.

Deltenre said that a close relationship between political and public media circles could also hurt the credibility of public radio and television in Europe, as viewers questioned their independence.

Such mistrust could turn viewers towards private channels.

Deltenre, the former head of Swiss public television, also complained about the growing trend of exclusive television rights granted by the organisers of sports and cultural events.

Many public channels can no longer afford the sums demanded, she cautioned.

"We have arrived at a point where we must work out a solution with sporting federations."

"The risk is that sports is becoming an affair for paying channels" to the detriment of viewers of free-to-air channels, Deltenre noted during the EBU's annual meeting in Lucerne.

According to the Council of Europe's public European Audiovisual Observatory, the number of television channels in Europe has more than tripled in the past 10 years from 2,400 to 7,700.

The EBU represents public television and radio services from 56 European, North African and Middle-Eastern countries.

© 2010 AFP

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