Euranet. That is the name of the new radio and internet project that will commence broadcasting on 31 March 2008. It is a consortium of sixteen radio stations from thirteen countries. The group includes international broadcasters like Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Deutsche Welle and Radio France International. But there are also regional and local stations, often from new EU member states. Radio Slovenia International and Polskie Radio from Poland are also part of the project. A major aim is to inform young citizens about the European Union.
The station was officially launched in Brussels by Margot Wallström, Vice-President of the European Commission and in charge of the EU’s communication strategy. The EC felt there was a need for fair and balanced information on EU affairs, she said. One aim of Euranet, in response to a demand felt by the Brussels leadership, is to get closer to the citizens, particularly the young. Ms Wallström stressed that a charter will guarantee the station’s editorial independence.
The very first Euranet broadcasts will be in English, Spanish, French, German and Polish. Within the first year five more languages will join in. The website that is part of the project will be of great importance, and it will be innovative, says Peter Veenendaal who is involved with the project on behalf of Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
“This will be a genuine audio website. Throughout the day you can listen to programmes and interviews. What is unique is that listeners themselves can also post sound files online. This will create a kind of database with sounds from all over Europe. And it is not just news, this is also about culture. We want to bring the real sound of Europe.”
What will they be doing?
The website and the radio stations (see box below) will be broadcasting a lot of news and backgrounds from all over Europe.
– Every weekday there will be half an hour of European news
– On Saturday and Sunday there will be a European magazine on culture and backgrounds
– The website will have new programmes every day, and also soundbites and sounds supplied by European citizens.
– Major events, such as cultural festivals or EU commemorations will be covered live on the internet and the radio three times a year.
Financing and independence
The station will be paid for by European funds and will cost about five million euros per year. The question can be asked how much influence the European Union, as Euranet’s paymaster, will have on the programming. According to European Commissioner Margot Wallström there is no need to worry about independence. “Of course there will be a journalists charter guaranteeing absolute editorial independence.”
Young people and Europe
The sixteen broadcasters are targeting a young section of the population: the 20 to 45-year- olds. They are commonly seen as a difficult target group that is perceiving the European Union as a boring and complicated phenomenon.
Peter Veenendaal of Radio Netherlands Worldwide says,
“If you want to reach a young audience, you cannot just broadcast radio programmes. The internet is very important here, because it allows anyone to listen at any time that suits them.
There won’t just be news on European bodies, but there will also be sports, culture and the problems that people are experiencing with the European Union.”
Euranet will start broadcasting in five languages, to which five more will be added soon. From next year there will be more, including Dutch. Ultimately the aim is for Euranet to air its content in all 23 languages of the EU.
The website (euranet.eu), offering listening-on-demand, podcast subscriptions, and acting as a portal to the consortium’s stations, will be online from 1 June 2008.
For more information: www.radionetherlands.nl