The shareholders of Euronews, the pan European multilingual news channel, have appointed Paolo Garimberti as the new chairman of the supervisory board, and Michael Peters as CEO. Garimberti succeeds Pier Luigi Malesani, while Peters has been promoted from managing director of Euronews. Peters succeeds Philippe Cayla, who has been appointed chairman of Euronews Development and a member of the supervisory board. Also appointed to the supervisory board are Lucian Sârb, director of news and programs, Cécile Leveaux, technical director, and Olivier de Montchenu, sales director and managing director of Euronews Sales. Meanwhile Malesani, although no longer chairman, remains a full member of the supervisory board.
European media observers will be interested to see what impact these sweeping managerial changes will have on Euronews’ voice and media independence, since the channel has been criticized for being a mouthpiece of the European Union (EU) in the past. This was ironic given that the EU, alongside the European Broadcast Union (EBU), has been urging member states to ensure their state broadcasters are free of government interference over programming. Indeed, Euronews was set up by the EBU in 1992 at the time of the first Gulf War, to provide a European counterweight to CNN, which then dominated coverage of the conflict. Since then, however, the EU has increased its support for Euronews, now providing 25 percent of its €60 million budget, much of the rest coming from advertising.
During 2011, Euronews has attempted to answer those who accuse it of never broadcasting news critical of the EU by increasing its on-site reporting of breaking events and including more commentary in its news bulletins rather than bare coverage of events. The new personnel changes should take this further, especially since Garimberti was president of Italian state broadcaster RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana), where he resisted attempts by ex-Italian president Silvio Berlusconi to manipulate coverage. Garimberti might find the EU easier to deal with.The channel currently has around 2.6 million viewers a week across the continent, although it is claimed to be available in 350 million households via satellite, cable, digital terrestrial and IPTV.