Brussels, Brussels-Capital (BE), 14 February 2014
As a result of the financial crisis, regional television all over Europe is currently facing severe conditions: some stations have closed down, some are suffering from hard financial cut backs, others are being reorganised and centralised. The current economic downturn is howevere not the only cause: the media, in general, is going through a convergence stage. For this reason, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and CIRCOM decided to tackle the hot topic of the future of regional public television in Europe. Some facts: 20 years ago, in one media, we had one journalist covering each field in Brussels. Today, one journalist has to cover various issues. Finally, the increasing role of social media has changed the game. With the decline of the newspaper industry, regional public media becomes even more important to ensure plurality, information and diversified voices, which are essential to democracy.
Our Assembly and CIRCOM
On 6 November 2013, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and CIRCOM (European Association of Regional Television) signed a partnership agreement concerning the exchange of expertise in the media field. By working together with politicians and regional stations representatives, we will aim to answer the key question: “What does the future of regional television look like?”
Step 1 – State of play of Regional Public Television
Our first goal was to raise awareness about the current situation of regional public broadcasters – the challenges they are facing (financially, institutionally and technically). More than 80 participants (regional politicians, journalists, European institutions, consultants in the media field, think tanks and regional TV stations representatives) shared their experience and regional stories.
1. Spain – Fernando R. OJEA, from CRTVG (Galicia Television) underlined that Spain is in the midst of a storm. Since 2008, Spanish TV Stations have been forced to reduce their costs and therefore to take drastic measures.
2. Croatia – HRT TV station has 8 regional TV channels with 340 employees and broadcasts more than 22,000 concrete pieces a year. They also have financial problems. According to Mr Domagoj NOVOKMET, from now on viewers will contribute to the funding and 10% will be funded directly by the government.
3. Portugal – RTP is also struggling but the cause is entirely different. Portugal is being bailed out since 2011 and they are forced to find a solution to the funding of TV public stations. One of the ideas could be to privatise RTP 2 (a station dedicated to culture).
4. Poland – There is a public regional station in each region. TVP’s activity is financed by licence fees and advertising – the annual subscription is 45 EUR for each household – but it is not enough to cover the costs. Indeed, while fees in Poland are among the lowest in Europe, the country also has the lowest rate of collection. Lately, one of the solutions put forward could be to collect money through a so-called “audiovisual fee.”
Step 2 – Appeal to AER member regions
In order to pursue our work, the AER calls its members regions to react on this important issue.
- Which role do regional decision makers play?
- What will be the future of TV regional stations?
- What do want to promote in your region?
- What should we do when we are facing a growing number of Independent TVs and Youtube channels?
- Which impact does this have on information pluralism, European diversity and citizenship and European democracy in general ?
Following this kick-off meeting and interesting debate, the AER Secretary General, Pascal Goergen, raised the possibility of an AER political report on this issue. Therefore, we call all our member regions to react and share their own experience.
For more information: [email protected]