European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which is unrelated to the European
Union was formed 12 February 1950 by 23 broadcasting organizations
from Europe and the Mediterranean rim at a conference in the Devonshire
coastal resort of Torquay, England. The EBU now has active full
members from forty-eight countries, associate members from thirty
more countries, and four other approved participants. Members are
radio and television companies, most of which are government-owned
public service broadcasters or privately owned stations with public
missions. Full active Members are based in countries from Algeria
to the Vatican State, including almost all European countries. Associate
members are not limited to those from European countries and the
Mediterranean but include broadcasters from Canada, Japan, Mexico,
Brazil, India and Hong Kong, as well as many others. Associate Members
from the United States include ABC, CBS, NBC, the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting, and Turner Broadcasting.
EBU is a nongovernmental international association, based in Geneva
and governed by Swiss law and its own statutes. It is the successor
to the first international association of broadcasters, the International
Broadcasting Union (1925), which was also based in Geneva. Its principal
aims are to promote cooperation between members and with broadcasting
organizations throughout the world and to represent its members'
interests in various fields, including legal, technical, and programming.
The EBU is administered by a General Assembly, which meets annually
and elects an Administrative Council composed of fifteen active
members. A president and two vice-presidents are chosen by the Assembly
from among the representatives of the members making up the council.
Council membership is for four years, with re-election permitted.
Because the EBU is based in Switzerland, the Swiss member, Société
Suisse de Radiodiffusion et Télévision (SSR), has a permanent seat
on the council. Four permanent committees, the Radio Programme Committee,
the Television Programme Committee, the Legal Committee, and the
Technical Committee, report to the council on the work of their
working and ad hoc groups. Day to day operations are carried
out by the Permanent Services staff, headed by the secretary-general.
of the major activities of the EBU is the Eurovision scheme, consisting
of program pooling and joint purchasing operations. Eurovision was
the idea of Marcel Bezençon, once director of the SSR and president
of the EBU. Eurovision was and is a television program clearing
house which facilitates the exchange of programming between national
networks throughout Europe. One of the early successes of the EBU
was the relay on 2 June 1953, of the transmission of the coronation
of Queen Elizabeth II to France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany.
The official birth of Eurovision as an international television
network occurred 6 June 1954, when the famous Narcissus Festival
from Montreaux, Switzerland, opened a series of live transmissions,
the "Television Summer Season of 1954."
brings news and program events to European viewers on a daily basis.
It is a network comprised of a mixture of permanent satellite and
terrestrial stations. Its programs are identified by a starburst
logo and an excerpt of the introduction to Te Deum, a work
of the 17th century composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier.
Courtesy of EBU
most important regular Eurovision activity is the daily news exchange,
providing full members and associate members with much of their
non-domestic and European news. Material is fed into the exchange
by members and nonmember broadcasting unions which also take from
the exchange. The news exchange began on a trial basis in 1958 and
became regular in 1961. It has now been supplemented by a multilingual
channel known as Euronews. Euronews is designed to provide Europeans
with world and local news coverage from a European viewpoint. On
1 January 1993, the Euronews channel began broadcasting on 5 terrestrial
circuits and 12 satellite circuits in English, French, German, Italian,
and Spanish. Euronews is a post-production channel, with none of
its own reporters in the field. It has access to Eurovision material
and news agencies for its content.
major Eurovision activity is its sports programming, including such
events as the European Basketball Championships, European Athletics
Cup, and European Swimming Championships. Eurovision operates a
joint purchasing scheme for international sporting events. When
members from two or more EBU countries are interested in a sporting
event, they request coordination from the EBU, which either carries
on negotiations itself or deputizes a member to do so on behalf
of the EBU. Members may not carry out negotiations for national
rights after joint negotiations have commenced, unless the joint
negotiations fail. If the joint negotiations succeed, the rights
are acquired on behalf of the interested members, who share the
1989, The European Sports Network/Screensport Network, a commercial
satellite channel, filed a complaint with the Commission of the
European Communities alleging that the joint purchasing scheme for
sporting events violated the competition (antitrust) law rules of
the Treaty of Rome. After provisions were made for non-members access
to the programming, the Commission granted the EBU a five-year conditional
exemption from the requirements of the competition rules. However,
in 1996, the Court of First Instance of the European Community nullified
the decision; the joint purchasing scheme awaits further litigation.
Brack, Hans. The Evolution of the EBU Through Its Statutes From
1950 to 1976. Geneva, Switzerland: European Broadcasting Union,
Ernest. Television Programming Across National Boundaries: The
EBU and OIRT Experiences. Dedham, Massachusetts: Artech, 1983.
Michael. "Facing the Future With Confidence: The EBU Celebrates
40 Years of Achievement." EBU Review: Programmes, Administration,
Law XLI, No. 1(1990).