French TV news channels gave EU-related topics only 2.3% of airtime in 2020

The study also identified the top five issues covered by television news in the first half of 2020, with the pandemic and Brexit topping the list with 58% and 26% respectively of the proportion of coverage of European issues. [Kittyfly/Shutterstock]

EU-related news was awarded only 2.3% of airtime on French TV news in 2020 and most of it was devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study by the Jean Jaurès Foundation in partnership with the French Audiovisual Institute (INA) revealed. EURACTIV France reports.

Exactly 471 EU-related topics were broadcast on French TV news from January to October last year, according to the study by the Jean Jaurès Foundation with INA.

French-German European public service channel Arte is leading the way with 227 items, followed by France 2 with 90 and TF1 with 61.

However, all channels combined had a slight decline in coverage. From 2015 to 2020, coverage of EU-related matters amounted to 3.6%, compared to 2.3% for 2020 alone.

The study’s authors, Fanny Hervo and Théo Verdier, also noted that “a significant increase in the share of topics devoted to European news as part of TV news during election periods, as shown by the years of the 2014 and 2019 European elections, when the share of topics on EU issues exceeded the 4% threshold.”

The study also highlighted “the predominance of the public sector in the coverage of European issues”.

In January, Le Monde reported that part of the remuneration of France Télévisions’ editors-in-chief was subject to their teams’ coverage of European issues.

COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit top the list

The study also identified the top five issues covered by television news in the first half of 2020. The pandemic and Brexit expectedly topped the list with 58% and 26%, respectively, of the proportion of coverage of European issues.

While the impact of the pandemic made its way into stories broadcast on television, the authors were surprised that the EU-led vaccine strategy, including the EU-wide vaccine order, was the big “omission”.

“In the end, over the first three quarters of 2020, only nine stories about European-related COVID-19 vaccination news were broadcast. In other words, the TV news simply did not cover the negotiation phase between the European Union and the laboratories, or the first announcements of vaccine orders made by the European Commission,” the study’s authors pointed out.

They also said that they would want to continue drawing “the attention of public decision-makers and broadcasters to the difficulty the audiovisual media have in giving [European issues] a fair place in their news programmes”.

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[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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