Italian and Turkish versions of Euronews are at risk. Journalists have gone on strike.
Euronews, the pan-European news service owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, is planning to make cuts to its service. 50 jobs out of 202 full-time posts at the channel at risk, according to the French Union of Journalists in Lyon, where the broadcaster is based.
As a result, plans are being advanced to close the Italian and Turkish language versions. The Italian service was one of the primary languages that Euronews was launched in back in 1993. Cuts at the Turkish service follow concerns over the freedom of journalists in Turkey, with supporters of the service saying the channel is essential in providing independent news in the country.
Journalists went out on strike on Tuesday morning as tensions at the broadcaster escalated.
While Euronews Italian is broadcast on Eutelsat Hotbird, Euronews Turkish is a without a satellite slot.
The restructuring plan – the second in less than three years – was originally announced last November by CEO Michael Peters. It comes after NBC News abandoned its stake in the broadcaster. NBC had wanted to turn Euronews into a major international news channel, but then opted to partner with new Comcast sister company Sky. Those plans were subsequently also abandoned.
Euronews out on its own
These developments have left Euronews uniquely isolated in terms of being one of few European news channels not part of a larger media group. This means it can’t be cross-subsidised from other parts of the business. Monetisation of its service is made difficult by the collapse in business advertising during the pandemic and the wide availability of free-to-air news from other providers. Therefore, it’s fate lies with its Egyptian owner.
Euronews was originally launched by European public broadcasters. Shareholders include RTÉ of Ireland, France Télévisions and Italy’s RAI. In the late 1990s, Britain’s ITN took a share in the broadcaster, before selling up in 2003. Since launching, most public broadcasters have either reduced their share or completely withdrawn from Euronews. Many have gone on to launch their own rolling news channels, in direct competition to Euronews.