EU to fund pan-European radio station
Radio fans will from next year onwards be able to tune in to a new pan-European station, to be set up by a multinational group of broadcasters and funded by the European Commission.
The 'European Radio Project' (ERP) - a consortium of 16 radio stations from 13 member states - will from April 2008 onwards bring programmes "from a European point of view," according to plans seen by EUobserver.
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The project, to be officially signed off this Friday (14 December), will see the ERP group jointly producing daily half-an-hour EU "hard news" shows, weekly magazines and coverage of big European cultural events.
The programmes will be broadcast on the usual frequencies of the participating radio stations, as well as through a new ERP internet site, which will be in the air from June onwards.
Participants include internationally operating public broadcasters such as Germany's Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale and Radio Netherlands Worldwide, as well as Poland's Polskie Radio and Spain's Radio Punto.
Belgian, Czech, Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Slovenian channels are also taking part in the scheme, which is open to further participants in future.
Original content for the radio shows will initially be produced in five "core" languages - English, French, German, Spanish and Polish - and will be translated into Bulgarian, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese and Romanian.
More core languages and translated versions will be added in the coming years so that by 2012, all official 23 EU languages should be covered.
The euro-radio project will be primarily financed by the EU Commission, which earlier this year issued a tender for "informative radio programmes on EU affairs" made by radio operators belonging to various member states.
The ERP consortium won the tender and will now pocket €5.8 million per year of subsidies for its pan-European shows, which comes down to a daily amount of € 15.890, commission sources said.
The 16 participating channels themselves will also support the ERP by providing frequencies, studio space and personnel.
Sources familiar with the project said the commission as a major financer "will not interfere in any way in the content" of ERP programming, with a commission official confirming that "they will have full editorial independence."
The commission tender cites as aim of the radio project to "encourage the development of a European public area," with Brussels already subsidising the European TV news channel EuroNews to the tune of €5 million euro a year (increasing to € 10 million from next year onwards).
ERP programmes are likely to include "Europe in brief" (European news of the day); "Europe in perspective" (backgrounds with the news); "Europe in-depth" (interview, analysis, and debates) and "Europe Live" (major cultural events in the EU).
Deutsche Welle will ensure the editorial coordination of the project, while Radio France will be responsible for financial affairs and Radio Netherlands will run the web portal of the euro-station.
The audience is estimated at 12 to 19 million daily listeners in the EU-27 plus around 30 million in the rest of the world. The consortium hopes to increase its EU audience to 30 million through marketing.