Advanced Television

EBU ‘trusted news’ initiative

January 27, 2021

By Colin Mann

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has unveiled what it describes as a “pioneering” online initiative that will enable public service media to transcend language barriers and offer their audiences trusted news content produced by counterparts from across Europe.

This multilingual content will provide a pan-European perspective on issues of key interest to national audiences such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and migration. It is also intended to act as an effective counterbalance to disinformation and divisive rhetoric propagated via social media platforms.

Under the initiative, participating broadcasters will contribute high-quality news content to a digital hub where it will be automatically translated into multiple languages using new tools and workflows. Editors will then select the items that are most relevant to their audiences and publish them through a recommendation box featured on their website.

Following a successful pilot phase which saw 14 broadcasters share more than 120,000 articles over a period of eight months, the project has been awarded an EU grant which will enable the technical tools to be fully developed and the editorial collaboration between newsrooms to be strengthened.

The recommendation box is slated for launch in July 2021 and will be hosted by public service media from Belgium (RTBF), Finland (YLE), France (France Télévisions), Germany (BR-ARD), Ireland (RTÉ), Italy (RAI), Portugal (RTP), Spain (RTVE) and Switzerland (SWI as well as the Franco-German and European broadcaster, ARTE.

It is anticipated that more broadcasters will sign up to the service as the initiative gains momentum, adding new languages to the overall content offer.

According to the EBU, digital collaboration in news sharing is the next significant step for media innovation in Europe. Collectively, public service media comprise Europe’s largest newsroom spending €5.5 billion a year and employing over 40,000 journalists to deliver accurate news content through trusted digital platforms.

The EBU-led initiative will tap into these vast resources and unlock their potential to contribute to a European public sphere based on common values and shared interests.

“Trustworthy, fact-based news and information are even more important at a time when disinformation and populism are threatening democracies,” asserted Noel Curran, Director General of the EBU. “It is exciting that we will work with cutting-edge technology to open up this wealth of high-quality content to our audiences, breaking geographic and language barriers. This initiative will revolutionise news sharing in Europe.”

“Building on decades of fruitful cooperation around news sharing, this is the perfect time for the EBU to forge a bold new alliance based on the association of the exceptional news expertise within our union and the availability of exciting digital tools,” suggested EBU President Delphine Ernotte Cunci. “The current context of converging public health, climate and social crises has demonstrated the increasing need for trusted, evidence-based reporting. This strategic digital project will allow each of our national audiences to have access to a pan-European window on our shared common experience, and permit greater political accountability and cross-checking across borders.”

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