European Broadcasting Union
Countries with one or more members are in dark blue. Associated members in light blue.
|Predecessor||International Broadcasting Union|
|Formation||12 February 1950|
|Type||Union of broadcasting organisations|
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU; French: Union européenne de radio-télévision, UER) is an alliance of public service media entities, established on 12 February 1950. As of 2015, the organisation comprises 73 active members in 56 countries, and 34 associate members from a further 20 countries. Most EU states are part of this organisation and therefore EBU has been subject to supranational legislation and regulation. It also hosted debates between candidates for the European Commission presidency for the 2014 parliamentary elections but is unrelated to the institution itself. It is best known for producing the Eurovision Song Contest.
Members of the EBU are radio and television companies, most of which are government-owned public service broadcasters or privately owned stations with public service missions. Active Members come from as far north as Iceland and as far south as Egypt, from Ireland in the west and Azerbaijan in the east, and almost every nation from geographical Europe in between. Associate Members are from countries and territories beyond Europe, such as Canada, Japan, Mexico, India, and Hong Kong. Associate Members from the United States include ABC, CBS, NBC, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Time Warner, and the only individual station, Chicago-based classical music station WFMT.
Active Members are those paying EBU members meeting all technical criteria for full membership, whose states are either within the European Broadcasting Area (EBA) or members of the Council of Europe. Syria is an example of a country within the EBA not complying with all technical criteria for full membership, and thus it is currently only granted Associated Membership.
The EBU's highest profile production is the Eurovision Song Contest, organised by its Eurovision Network. The Eurovision Network also organises the Eurovision Dance Contest, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, the Eurovision Young Dancers competition, and other competitions for young musicians and screenwriters, which are modelled along similar lines. The countries represented in the EBU also co-operate to create documentaries and (animated) children's programming.
Radio collaborations include Euroclassic Notturno – an overnight classical music stream, produced by BBC Radio 3 and broadcast in the United Kingdom as Through the Night – and special theme days, such as the annual Christmas music relays from around Europe.
Most EBU broadcasters have a group deal to carry the Olympics and FIFA World Cup (in particular, the games of their country and the Final). Another annually recurring event which is broadcast across Europe through the EBU is the Vienna New Year's Concert.
The theme music played before EBU broadcasts is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's Prelude to Te Deum. It is well known to Europeans as it is played before and after the Eurovision Song Contest and other important events.
The EBU was a successor to the International Broadcasting Union (IBU) that was founded in 1925 and had its administrative headquarters in Geneva and technical office in Brussels. It fostered programming exchanges between members and mediated technical disputes between members that were mostly concerned with frequency and interference issues. It was in effect taken over by Nazi Germany during the Second World War and when the conflict ended in the eyes of the Allies it was a compromised organisation that they could not trust.
In the spring of 1946, representatives of the Soviet radio committee proposed forming a new organisation; however, at the same time preparations were being made for an inter-governmental “European Broadcasting Conference” (EBC) in Copenhagen in 1948 to draw up a new plan for frequency use in the European Broadcasting Area (EBA). It was considered necessary to have an organisation that could implement the “Copenhagen Wavelength Plan” but there was disagreement among broadcasters and particularly a fear expressed by the BBC that a new association might be dominated by the USSR and its proposal to give each of its constituent states one vote. France proposed that it would have four votes with the inclusion of its North African colonies. Great Britain felt it would have little influence with just one vote.
On 27 June 1946 the alternative International Broadcasting Organisation (IBO) was founded with 26 members and without British participation. The following day the IBU met in General Assembly and an attempt was made to dissolve it but failed; though 18 of its 28 members left to join the IBO. For a period of time in the late 1940s both the IBU and IBO vied for the role of organising frequencies but Britain decided to be in involved in neither. The BBC attempted but failed to find suitable working arrangements with them. However, for practical purposes the IBO rented the IBU technical centre in Brussels and employed its staff. The BBC then proposed a new solution based on the IBO changing its constitution so there will be only one member per ITU country, thus ensuring a Western majority over the USSR and its satellite states. In August 1949 a meeting took place in Stresa, Italy but it resulted in disagreement between delegates on how to resolve the problems. One proposal was for the European Broadcasting Area to be replaced by one that would exclude Eastern Europe, the Levant and North Africa.
After Stresa, a consensus emerged among the Western Europeans to form a new organisation and the BBC proposed it be based in London. Meetings in Paris on 31 October and 1 November 1949 sealed the fate of the IBU and IBO, but it was decided not to allow West Germany to be a founder of the new organisation. On 13 February 1950 the European Broadcasting Union had its first meeting with 23 members from the ITU defined European Broadcasting Area at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, England. The first president was Ian Jacob of the BBC who remained at the helm for 10 years while its operation was largely dominated by the BBC due to its financial, technical and staff input. The most important difference between the EBU and its predecessors was that EBU membership was for broadcasters and not governments. Early delegates said EBU meetings were cordial and professional and very different from the abrupt tone of its predecessors. West Germany was admitted in 1951 and a working relationship forged with the USSR’s Organisation for International Radio and TV (OIRT) which existed in parallel with the EBU until its merger in 1993. (Source: Diffusion, Journal of the EBU, ‘50 years of the EBU’, Winter 1999/2000).
The objective of the EBU's technical activities is simply to assist EBU Members (see below) in this period of unprecedented technological changes. This includes provision of technical information to Members via conferences and workshops, as well as in written form (such as the EBU Technical Review, and the EBU tech-i magazine).
The EBU also encourages active collaboration between its Members on the basis that they can freely share their knowledge and experience, thus achieving considerably more than individual Members could achieve by themselves. Much of this collaboration is achieved through Project Groups which study specific technical issues of common interest: for example, EBU Members have long been preparing for the revision of the 1961 Stockholm Plan.
The EBU places great emphasis on the use of open standards. Widespread use of open standards (such as MPEG-2, DAB, DVB, etc.) ensures interoperability between products from different vendors, as well as facilitating the exchange of programme material between EBU Members and promoting "horizontal markets" for the benefit of all consumers.
EBU members and the EBU Technical Department have long played an important role in the development of many systems used in radio and television broadcasting, such as:
- The AES/EBU digital audio interface, formally known as AES3;
- Serial and parallel interfaces for digital video (ITU-R Recommendations 601 and 656);
- RDS – the radio data system used on FM broadcasting.
- The EBU Loudness Recommendation R 128 and 'EBU Mode' meters (EBU Tech 3341)
The EBU has also actively encouraged the development and implementation of:
- Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) through Eureka Project 147 and the WorldDAB Forum;
- Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) through the DVB Project and DigiTAG;
- Digital radio in the bands currently used for AM broadcasting through DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale);
- Standardisation of PVR systems through the TV-Anytime Forum.
- Development of other content distribution networks on the internet through P2PTV; EBU Project Group D/P2P, from November 2007 to April 2008, with a trial of selected member channels, thanks to Octoshape's distribution platform. The EBU is also part of the European P2P-Next project.
Greek state broadcaster controversy of 2013
On 11 June 2013, the Greek government shut down the state broadcaster ERT, at short notice, citing government spending concerns related to the Euro crisis. In response, the European Broadcasting Union set up a makeshift studio on the same day, near the former ERT offices in Athens, in order to continue providing EBU members with the news-gathering and broadcast relay services which had formerly been provided by ERT.
The EBU put out a statement expressing its "profound dismay" at the shutdown, urged the Greek Prime Minister "to use all his powers to immediately reverse this decision" and offered the "advice, assistance and expertise necessary for ERT to be preserved".
Starting on 4 May 2014, the New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television (NERIT) broadcaster began nationwide transmissions, taking over ERT's vacant active membership slot in the EBU. On 11 June, 2015, two years after ERT's closure, Nerit SA closed and ERT SA reopened with a comprehensive program in all radio stations (with 19 regional radio stations, 2 world-Range, and 5 the Panhellenic range) and four TV channels ERT1 ERT2 ERT3 and ERT HD.
Past active members
|Greece||New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television||NERIT||2014||2015|
|Libya||Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation (الجماهيرية اللّيبيّة)||LJBC||1974||2011|
|Serbia and Montenegro||Alliance of Public Radio and Television||UJRT||2001||2006|
|Spain||Antena 3 Radio||A3R||1986||1993|
|Vatican City||Vatican Television Center||CTV||1950||2012|
|Yugoslavia||Yugoslav Radio Television||JRT||1950||1992|
EBU membership applications
|Kosovo||Radio Television of Kosovo||RTK||RTK has shown interest into obtaining active EBU membership. However, they have yet to fulfil all the criteria set by the EBU for admission.||2008|
|Liechtenstein||1 Fürstentum Liechtenstein Television||1FLTV||Liechtenstein's only television broadcaster began broadcasting on 15 August 2008. In July 2009, Peter Kölbel, broadcaster's managing director officially announced its intent to apply to join the EBU by the end of July 2009.||2009, 2010|
|Morocco||La deuxième Télévision||2M TV||The second commercial channel of Morocco has asked for membership of the EBU.||2011|
|Palestine||Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation||PBC||The broadcasting corporation is a former Associate Member, and was alleged to have held negotiations with the EBU to become Active Members. However, Palestine is not a member of the required organisations, and thus does not comply with the criteria.||2007|
|Qatar||Qatar Radio||QR||Recently shown interest at Eurovision 2009, by sending delegates in the hope of applying for active membership. However, their application has been denied under the current rules, due to the Gulf State being completely outside the European Broadcasting Area.||2009|
Any group or organisation member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which provide a radio or television service outside of the European Broadcasting Area, are permitted to submit applications to the EBU for Associate Membership. Countries which have this status also pay an annual fee to maintain this status. It was also noted by the EBU that any country that is granted Associate Member status does not include any access into the Eurovision system.
Approved participant members
Any groups or organisations from a country with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) membership, which do not qualify for either the EBU's Active or Associate memberships, but still provide a broadcasting activity for the EBU, are granted a unique Approved Participants membership, which lasts approximately five years. An application for this status may be submitted to the EBU at any given time, providing an annual fee is paid.
|JP MRD||JP MRD|
|Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network||RTRN|
The EBU in co-operation with the respective host broadcaster, organises competitions and events in which its Members can participate, if they wish to do so. These include:
Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la Chanson) is an annual international song competition, that was first held in Lugano, Switzerland, on 24 May 1956. Seven countries participated – each submitting two songs, for a total of 14. This was the only contest in which more than one song per country was performed: since 1957 all contests have allowed one entry per country. The 1956 contest was won by the host nation, Switzerland. In this competition, only countries that are members of the EBU can participate. The first winner was Switzerland, and the most recent is Ukraine with a new voting system. The first host city was Lugano, and the most recent is Stockholm.
Let the Peoples Sing
Let the Peoples Sing is a biennial choir competition, the participants of which are chosen from radio recordings entered by EBU radio members. The final, encompassing three categories and around ten choirs, is offered as a live broadcast to all EBU members. The overall winner is awarded the Silver Rose Bowl.
Jeux Sans Frontières
Jeux Sans Frontières (English: Games Without Frontiers, or Games Without Borders) was a Europe-wide television game show. In its original conception, it was broadcast from 1965 to 1999 under the auspices of the EBU. The original series run ended in 1982 but was revived in 1988 with a different complexion of nations and was hosted by smaller broadcasters.
Eurovision Young Musicians
Eurovision Young Musicians is a competition for European musicians that are younger than 19 years old. It is organised by the EBU and is a member of EMCY. The first competition was held in Manchester, United Kingdom on 11 May 1982.
The televised competition is held every two years, with some countries holding national heats. Since its foundation in 1982, the Eurovision Young Musicians competition has become one of the most important music competitions on an international level.
Eurovision Young Dancers
It uses a format similar to the Eurovision Song Contest, every country that is a member of the EBU has had the opportunity to send a dance act to compete for the title of "Eurovision Young Dancer". The act can be either a solo act or a dance couple, and all contestants must be between the ages of 16 and 21 years and not professionally engaged.
Euroclassic Notturno is a six-hour sequence of classical music recordings assembled by BBC Radio from material supplied by members of the EBU and streamed back to those broadcasters by satellite for use in their overnight classical-music schedules. The recordings used are taken not from commercial CDs but from earlier (usually live) radio broadcasts.
Junior Eurovision Song Contest
Junior Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la Chanson Junior), is an annual international song competition, that was first held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 15 November 2003. Sixteen countries participated – each submitting one song, for a total of 16 entries. The 2003 Contest was won by Croatia and the current winner is Malta. The first host city was Copenhagen (2003) and the most recent is Valletta (2016).
Eurovision Dance Contest
The Eurovision Dance Contest (not to be confused with the Eurovision Young Dancers Competition) was an international dancing competition that was held for the first time in London, United Kingdom on 1 September 2007. The competition was repeated in 2008 when it was held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, but has not been held since.
Eurovision Magic Circus Show
The Eurovision Magic Circus Show is an entertainment show organised by the EBU, which began in 2010. Children aged between 7-14 representing countries within the EBU membership area, perform a variety of circus acts at the Geneva Christmas Circus (French: Cirque de Noël Genève). The main show is also accompanied by the Magic Circus Show Orchestra.
Eurovision Choir of the Year
The Eurovision Choir of the Year is a new event being launched by the EBU, and the latest event to be launched since the Eurovision Magic Circus Show 2010. The event will consist of non-professional choirs who are members of the EBU, with the inaugural contest scheduled to take place on 22 July 2017, hosted by the Latvian broadcaster Latvijas Televīzija (LTV), and to coincide with the closing ceremony of the European Choir Games 2017. The event will be officially confirmed on 30 November 2016 depending on a reasonable amount of interest from active members of the European Broadcasting Union.
European Sports Championships
The European Sports Championships is a multi-sport event involving some of the leading sports in Europe. The European Governing Bodies for athletics, swimming, cycling, rowing and triathlon, will co-ordinate their individual championships as part of the first edition in the summer of 2018, hosted by the cities of Berlin (already chosen as the host for the 2018 European Athletics Championships) and Glasgow (already chosen as the host for the 2018 European Aquatics Championships, and which will now also host the events of the other sports).
- Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union
- BBC World News
- Caribbean Broadcasting Union
- Commonwealth Broadcasting Association
- Commonwealth Press Union
- Europe by Satellite
- North American Broadcasters Association
- Organización de Televisión Iberoamericana (Iberoamerican Television Organisation)
- WRN Broadcast
Notes and references
- Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received recognition as an independent state from 110 out of 193 United Nations member states.
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