Friday, November 28, 2008

Going, going...

New Europe reports on the slow demise of EUX.TV. As it says,
It is absolutely ridiculous to watch millions dished out to Europarl TV, Euronews, the infamous MyParl, countless think tanks, European foundations, etc etc etc, while projects with a future such as EUX.TV go under.

With the report is a letter from Raymond Franken which explains what is happening to independent media outlets that cover European Union affairs, it bears reading the whole thing.
EUX.TV Service Reduced, Future in DoubtBRUSSELS/MAASTRICHT --
Since September 2006, nearly two million EUX.TV videos have been watched on the nternet. Nevertheless, EUX.TV, the Europe channel, has decided to significantly reduce its output as of October 2008 because the advertising income simply can't support the channel as an independent business. Without fresh financial support, EUX.TV* will not be able to continue in 2009 as a digital them channel bringing independent video news coverage of European affairs and EU politics.

In the summer of 2006 we started as a new pan-European channel whose ambition it was to position itself as the leading European affairs channel, covering EU politics for an international audience. At our launch in Brussels, we stated that we envisaged income from advertisers and sponsors in order to stay independent from the European Union institutions. A risky venture, but encouraged by a new generation of production methods and distribution technology. A lack of funds forced us to use the Internet, rather than cable and satellite TV, as our main distribution channel.

But banner advertisements and WebTV commercials in the end proved unable to sustain even relatively small costs like that of a new hard-disc or a box of videotapes. There's no real business model in WebTV on its own. WebTV, we've learned, simply can't exist on its own; the only value in WebTV is marketing value. If you have a product to sell, WebTV can be part of your marketing mix. We at EUX.TV don't have a product to sell, we're about news and information in the field of European affairs. But our WebTV did help us 'market' and build our brand. In the European affairs arena, the EUX.TV brand is widely known.

Our venture inspired staff at the EU institutions to start projects like EUtube (EU Commission) and EuroparlTV (EU Parliament). These channels now compete with us for viewers on the web, and can do so only because these are projects funded indirectly by taxpayers. EuroparlTV, for example, has a budget of 9 million euro per year; it's content is controlled by the parliament's bureau, not its newsroom. EUXTV's budget is a fraction of what EuroParlTV gets.

We thought about sending a state-aid complaint to EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, but we understood she would not take our complaint seriously. The European affairs advertising market proved a very difficult, conservative, twisted and artificial market to break into. Political sensitivities play up everywhere, lobbyists in Brussels are not used to working out in the open, and advertisers-lobbyists prefer to put their messages in media that they know are favorable to the European institutions, including the Euronews tv channel, the European Voice weekly and the Euractiv website.

All these media get direct or indirect financial support from the EU institutions. However, thanks to the concept of video journalism, lower-cost broadcast technology (Thank you Apple, Sony and YouTube) and about a dozen volunteers in total, we were able to maintain a basic service. In the end, it still proved not possible to make ends meet as a channel with a small but dedicated newsroom, volunteers and trainees. Honesty bids to say that we made mistakes at some stages.

EUX.TV was not careful enough when choosing some of its partners; a marketing firm proved incapable of working in Brussels; a webTV hosting company lost interest after one of their competitors won the EuroparlTV project. This led to a severe waste of time and energy. It has made the EUX.TV project an expensive lesson. But would EUX.TV have fared any better if these mistakes were not made? Maybe, but it's unlikely. Bottom line is that WebTV as a business strategy simply does not work.

Maybe in a decade, but certainly not now. We're still in talks with a small number of potential new partners but don't hold up your hopes. Only with serious financial support, EUX.TV can restart to deliver on its ambitions. It's becoming very difficult. The financial crisis means funding for several potential partners is drying up. Unless a miracle happens, EUX.TV, the Europe channel, will be no more in 2009. In the meantime, we have nearly 600 videos, interviews, debates and news reports, out on YouTube and other webtv platforms, still drawing more than 4000 video views per day! Even if we have to close the EUX.TV website, these videos will stay up, whatever happens.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso talking about a European empire, hard-hitting news reports on the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's absence in war in the east of Congo, various reports from across Europe. These all to remember the channel that once was.

Thanks for watching us.

Raymond Frenken
Founder & Editor of EUX.TV
rfrenken (at) gmail.com

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2345 said...

The labour government loathes direct link independent reporting of any kind.

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