Jean-Michel Bos [Connect Euranet/ Flickr]
Jean-Michel Bos is Editor-in-Chief of Euranet Plus, grouping top national radios like RTBF, Radio 24 and BFM Business, now at risk of stopping. Well after the demise in 2013 of Presseurop.eu , the EU Commission apparently decided not to renew Euranet Plus’ contract, according to Ouest-France. Mr Bos spoke earlier with EurActiv Founder Christophe Leclercq, as part of the series #Media4EU. He advocates continuation based on good impact, and drew lessons from Euranet cooperation, also relevant to other media organisations.
Could you please provide a short description of your network?
Euranet Plus is a network of 18 European public and private broadcasters founded 10 years ago with the purpose of offering more and better quality EU news coverage. It currently produces in 14 EU languages across 16 states, broadcasting more than 1600 hours of EU-related content each year.
Other media companies have told me that considering 100 of their features only about 5 to 20% cover European news and therefore lend themselves to being exchanged across borders. What would be your estimate in regards to your radio network?
I would say that within the Euranet Plus network that number must be close to 15% or less. This, however, is only my best guess, as numbers could vary significantly based on the heterogeneous character of our network, which comprises different countries and both public and private broadcasters.
You should also know that the terms of our contract mandate a minimum of 75 minutes of European coverage per week. If this were not the case, I am certain that European issues would be reported a lot less.
Other media outlets have also said that they are seeing an acceleration of the convergence of written, video and multimedia content. Is that the case for Euranet Plus as well? Does this facilitate cooperation?
Yes, this is definitely the case for Euranet Plus, since we are developing into an increasingly multimedia agency. In particular, we are offering a new product that is multilingual and very easy to integrate onto different platforms, our ‘News of the Week’ videos in English, French, German and Spanish and soon in Italian. We would like to expand in the future to other Central and Eastern European languages but no practical steps have been made in that direction yet.
We are also developing new infographic, data-based content that will be called ‘DataLab’. Yet, we are still maintaining our radio identity by including Sound File quotes in our written material.
Just to follow up on that, could you give me an estimate of how much of the content put out by the Euranet Plus agency is in this new type of video and infographic format?
I would say about 50% and growing.
What would you say are the main successes of the Euranet Plus network? What were the barriers to be overcome?
To answer this question, I will briefly summarize the history of the network. At the beginning, the focus was mainly editorial, meaning that each member was in charge of producing a certain amount of European content. In addition, Euranet Plus also played a small management role when it came to co-productions.
In 2013 we opened the Brussels agency, which was in charge of producing EU-focused content. We noticed that each member was very opened to sharing content to other members but that syndication in was poor. The reasons for this are due to the highly competitive nature of the journalistic culture and to the different types of media mindsets that are prevalent in different countries.
We decided to strengthen our investment in the human aspect of cooperation. The key word here is trust, this is why we make a point of ensuring that Euranet Plus members meet regularly every year to build relationships across journalistic cultures, instead of focusing on a strictly contract-based type of cooperation. It is a long and laborious work, but I believe that it is actually more effective and sustainable. Still, much more needs to be done.
How many people would you say are part of this core network of collaborators?
Across the 18 radios that are part of the network, we are in regular contact with about three people per member, so I would say around 60 total.
How do you approach translation in the network? Do you use any technology tool?
At the moment we resort exclusively to human translation, but we would be very interested in using technology in the future.
Let’s talk about business models. I know that the funding of Euranet Plus comes exclusively from the Commission. Has there been any talk of diversifying from this model?
The Euranet Plus Network receives about 6 million € a year. Considering that its reaches 22 million daily listeners during the airtime dedicated to its specific programs, this is a very cost-effective investment.
Is this the actual reach, as opposed to the potential reach used in Euronews’ own communication?
Yes, correct. Additionally to that, the members of our network have their own public and private funding depending from the organisation.
We have recently begun discussing how we could generate traffic to our content and then monetize it through advertisement but this proposal is still in its early stages.
What about sponsoring? Have you ever considered involving a third party to sponsor a specific section of your content? Do you think any your members would be opposed to this model?
I may possibly encounter some reluctance when it comes to some of our public service members but in general many would be interested in this model. Besides, we can always opt for a project pilot in the beginning, which leaves the possibility to members to choose whether they want to join in or not.
Setting aside the issue of your contract renewal coming up in 2017, how do you think national governments and the EU could improve the development of a more cooperative and sustainable European media sector?
I believe that public funding of the media is still crucial, as public service content is often not necessarily profitable but essential in a democratic setting. I would also welcome and encourage more investment into research and development, especially in areas concerning intercultural exchange and data journalism. Further to this last point, I believe that the institutions should offer more and better training programs for journalists, because many new tools have been made available thanks to the rise of social media and big data, but many professionals still don’t know how to use them.
This interview is part of the #Media4EU editorial series. Read more: – project outline – steering committee – guidance post. You can also engage in the process on social media by using the #Media4EU and tweeting @FondEurActivand @LeclercqEU.