The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has unveiled a pioneering online initiative that will enable public service media to transcend language barriers and offer their audiences trusted news content produced by counterparts from across Europe. The infrastructure underpinning the project leverages the EuroVOX open toolkit for translation and the PEACH suite of recommendations tools – systems that are collaboratively developed by EBU Members and the EBU Technology & Innovation department.
The new service allows public service media to offer content originating in other languages in order to provide a pan-European perspective on issues of key interest to national audiences such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and migration. It will also act as an effective counterbalance to disinformation and divisive rhetoric propagated via social media platforms.
Antonio Arcidiacono, EBU Director of Technology & Innovation, said, “Good technical innovation not only offers concrete solutions to practical problems. We strongly believe that technology should help to empower people, and that it should help us as individuals to constructively participate in the world. That is what this project does.”
Under the new initiative, participating broadcasters will contribute high-quality news content to a digital hub where it will be automatically translated into multiple languages using innovative new tools and workflows. Editors will then select the items that are most relevant to their audiences and publish them through a recommendation box featured on their website.
Following a successful pilot phase which saw 14 broadcasters share more than 120,000 articles over a period of eight months, the project has been awarded an EU grant which will enable the technical tools to be fully developed and the editorial collaboration between newsrooms to be strengthened.
The recommendation box is slated for launch in July 2021 and will be hosted by public service media from Belgium (RTBF), Finland (YLE), France (France Télévisions), Germany (BR-ARD), Ireland (RTÉ), Italy (RAI), Portugal (RTP), Spain (RTVE) and Switzerland (SWI swissinfo.ch) as well as the Franco-German and European broadcaster, ARTE.
It is anticipated that more broadcasters will sign up to the service as the initiative gains momentum, adding new languages to the overall content offer.
Digital collaboration in news sharing is the next significant step for media innovation in Europe. Collectively, public service media comprise Europe’s largest newsroom spending €5.5 billion a year and employing over 40,000 journalists to deliver accurate news content through trusted digital platforms.
The EBU-led initiative will tap into these vast resources and unlock their potential to contribute to a European public sphere based on common values and shared interests.
Noel Curran, Director General of the EBU, commented, “Trustworthy, fact-based news and information are even more important at a time when disinformation and populism are threatening democracies. It is exciting that we will work with cutting-edge technology to open up this wealth of high-quality content to our audiences, breaking geographic and language barriers. This initiative will revolutionise news sharing in Europe.”
EBU President Delphine Ernotte Cunci said, “Building on decades of fruitful cooperation around news sharing, this is the perfect time for the EBU to forge a bold new alliance based on the association of the exceptional news expertise within our union and the availability of exciting digital tools.
“The current context of converging public health, climate and social crises has demonstrated the increasing need for trusted, evidence-based reporting. This strategic digital project will allow each of our national audiences to have access to a pan-European window on our shared common experience, and permit greater political accountability and cross-checking across borders."