The EBU today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Parliament to help ensure high-quality, objective media coverage of the European Election campaign in 2019.
The European Parliament and the EBU both recognise the important role public service media (PSM) plays in elections by informing citizens about competing political parties, their programmes and candidates, and contributing to the electorate’s formation of opinions.
The EBU will be producing a Eurovision Debate, with the participation of all the leading candidates for the Presidency of the European Commission, which will be broadcast by PSM throughout Europe. The EBU and its Members will have full editorial independence while the European Parliament will provide logistical support.
The agreement also covers a range of other initiatives on different media platforms. These initiatives aim to ensure that citizens are properly and fully informed to effectively participate in political debates about the future of the EU. Against the rise of “fake news” and growing polarisation, the agreement acknowledges that PSM plays a pivotal role in supporting engaged voting.
Multiple studies show that broadcast media remain the most trusted forms of media in the EU. An EBU report earlier this year – based on data from the 88th Eurobarometer survey – showed that 59% of people tended to trust radio with 51% trusting TV (compared with 34% who trust the internet and a mere 20% trusting social networks).
Today EBU Members reach a potential audience of over 1 billion people in Europe and beyond. Operating the Eurovision News Exchange and the Eurovision Network, the EBU is an independent news source and plays a central role in the offerings of public broadcasters across Europe. Coverage will be underpinned by the EBU Principles for Election Coverage (impartiality and independence, fairness and respect, accuracy and relevance), ensuring both the EU institutions and European citizens can have confidence in its reporting.
EBU President Jean-Paul Philippot said: “Our goal is to stimulate an informed debate on issues that affect European citizens across national borders. In pluralist democratic societies, providing independent, editorial content is a core mission of PSM and we are extremely proud to cooperate with the European Parliament to bring this mission to life."
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani added: “We have to explain to citizens that voting in the European elections means strengthening European democracy. Trusted media sources must play a key role in informing citizens and debunking fake news.
"The lead candidate process will motivate Europeans to vote, but only in the context of a real debate on the future of Europe. I am therefore glad that the EBU is committed to producing pan-European TV debates between the lead candidates helping to bring the European Union closer to its citizens.”