Euronews management did not include the Greek service in a package that would be funded by the EU, a Commission spokesperson has confirmed.
The European Commission is not a shareholder in Euronews and has no say in the decisions being taken, a Commission spokesperson said during Tuesday’s midday press briefing in Brussels, responding to a question on reports that the station plans to close down its Greek-language service.
The spokesperson was responding to a question by an Austrian journalist, who said that the channel’s management has agreed to maintain the Greek-language service only as a website, while closing down the broadcast component, starting in January 2022.
Asked whether the Commission is no longer willing to support independent news in these countries Spokesperson Johannes Bahrke said that “there were plans by Euronews to franchise its service in Greek and we are aware of these plans”, but added that this issue is not related to the Commission’s decision to limit funding to Euronews and redirect this funding to other media support programmes.
“We have decided to adapt our ongoing support to Euronews, which has been ongoing for a long time, to developments in the market and the way people consume information online,” Bahrke added.
“We have concluded a new framework partnership agreement with Euronews for three years and the fixed amount of funding has decreased or is decreasing over time, but there will be calls where Euronews and others can apply, and this is also to stimulate competition,” the spokesperson noted.
Bahrke insisted that “there is no direct link between the two initiatives” and any decisions on the Greek service.
“The Commission is not a shareholder of Euronews, we are not involved in the business decisions of Euronews and we are also not involved in the decision that you mentioned, which is to franchise the Greek service,” he said, adding that there are ongoing developments and that he will be able to provide more information in the next hours or days.
Responding to a question for clarification, Bahrke said that during the discussion on a new framework agreement “the Euronews people did not suggest the Greek service as a destination for European funds.”
“They want a different model, a franchise model for the Greek service,” he noted, adding that “there are reasons why we decided that a small amount of funds going to Euronews will go to competition.”
Invited to comment on whether the Commission did not insist on including the Greek service in the funding agreement, the spokesperson said that “Euronews had to make an offer including five official languages of the Union, and Greece wasn’t in their offer.”
“And it is not up to the Commission to tell a television station what their business model should be. That’s up to them,” Bahrke added, noting that “we are not a shareholder, we are not involved in management decisions on Euronews.” He acknowledged however that he is aware that there are implications to these developments.