Aims and Organisation

Its Aims and Organisation

Since the beginning of broadcasting, the broadcasting authorities have been aware of the value that lies in a close collaboration on the international plane. The imperative reasons acting in favour of such collaboration were:

  • the very nature of radio waves, which ignore national frontiers;
  • the similarity of the problems arising from the operation of broadcasting services in the different countries;
  • the need to organise programme exchanges between broadcasting organisations;
  • the complexity and interdependence of the problems posed from the technical, artistic and legal points of view, which called for a close collaboration between the engineers, programme staff and jurists of the different countries.

These reasons brought about the formation of a specialised international organisation whose activities include all aspects of broadcasting.

This organisation was, originally, the International Broadcasting Union (I.B.U.) which was formed at Geneva in 1925.

Since 1950, the European Broadcasting Union (E.B.U.) which succeeded the I.B.U., has fulfilled this task.

What is the E.B.U. ?

In law the European Broadcasting Union is a non-governmental international organisation whose object is to take care of the interests of organisations operating broadcasting services.

It is a private association, with no commercial aim, although it is an association of operating organisations.

The term “broadcasting service” should be taken in its most general sense, covering both sound and television broadcasting. It is, therefore, in this general sense that the term “broadcasting” should herein be understood, as it appears in the title of the Union, which includes both sound broadcasting and television organisations.

In French, the Union is called “Union Européenne de Radiodiffusion”, it being known in that language by the initials “U.E.R.” The two working languages of the Union are, in effect, French and English.

Professionally In the terms of its statutes, the aims of the European Broadcasting Union are:

  • to support in every domain the interest of its affiliated broadcasting organisations and to establish relations with other broadcasting organisations;
  • to promote all measures designed to assist the development of broadcasting in all its forms;
  • to seek the solution, by means of international cooperation, of any differences that may arise;
  • to use its best endeavours to ensure that all its Members respect the provisions of international agreements relating to all aspects of broadcasting

This enumeration of general principles guiding the E.B.U. in the orientation of its work permits judging the scope and diversity of its objectives, as will be shown in the description of its activities.

Geographically As its name indicates, the activity of the E.B.U. covers in the first place the countries of Europe, as well as the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, which, in the terms of the Conventions of the International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.), are part of the “European Broadcasting Area”.

The activities of the E.B.U., however, extend outside Europe, a large number of extra-European broadcasting organisations having associated themselves with its work or achievements.

Thus the E.B.U. includes sound and television broadcasting organisations throughout the world, such organisations belonging to countries that are either members or associate members of the I.T.U.

  • Only organisations within the “European Broadcasting Area” may belong to the E.B.U. as Active Members, that is to say, as members enjoying full rights.*
  • Organisations in other parts of the world can belong to the E.B.U. only as Associate Members.

On 30th June, 1962, there were twenty-seven Active Members, in twenty-five countries:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (Federal Republic), Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jugoslavia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vatican City.

On the same date, there were twenty-four Associate Members, all, except one, outside the European Broadcasting Area, in seventeen countries:

Australia, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Congo (Leopoldville), Dahomey, Ghana, Haiti, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, South Africa, United States of America, Upper Volta.

The map reproduced above gives an idea of the geographical distribution of the E.B.U.’s Members and Associate Members, the full alphabetical list of whom is shown in the table. It also shows that, thanks to the E.B.U., cooperation in the field of broadcasting has become a reality from one end of the world to the other.

* Nevertheless, by derogation of this principle, an organisation within the European Broadcasting Area, other than those of Continental Europe, Iceland, Ireland and the United Kingdom, may ask for admission as Associate Member instead of Active Member.

How does the E.B.U. work?

The general policy of the Union, the policy of decision in the orientation of its work, the determination of the programme of its activities, the admission or withdrawal of affiliation of E.B.U. Members, are dealt with by the General Assembly and the Administrative Council, whose activity concentrates on periodical meetings. The preparation of the decisions of these assemblies is the duty of the Union’s Committees, who play a consultative part, and of the permanent, executive, services.

The table shown herewith represents in schematic form the organisation of the E.B.U.

E.B.U. organisational diagram.

The General Assembly is the supreme body of the Union. It is composed of all the Members of the E.B.U. and possesses full powers to achieve the social objectives of the Union.

The General Assembly meets once a year in ordinary session and can, if necessary, meet in extraordinary session. In particular, it elects the President and the two Vice-Presidents of the Union.

The President of the E.B.U. is Mr. O. Rydbeck, Director General of Sveriges Radio. He was preceded by Sir lan Jacob (B.B.C.) who is Honorary President of the Union. Mr. M. Rodino, Managing Director of the R.A.I. (Radiotelevisione Italiana), is Vice-President of the Union.

The General Assembly elects the members of the Administrative Council which represents the executive power of the Union.

The Administrative Council which at present consists of eleven administrators’ seats to which Active Members are elected, is charged with the execution of the decisions taken by the General Assembly. It meets at least twice a year and retains the rights and powers of the General Assembly between the ordinary meetings of that body. The Council examines and proposes notably to the General Assembly the establishment of committees charged with informing and advising it in the various fields of activity of the Union.

People wearing headphones gathered around a very long table

The E.B.U. General Assembly in session in Brussels, Belgium, 1962.

The Committees Three specialised Committees, the Programme, Technical and Legal Committees, that deal with the three extensive fields of activity of the Union, as well as a certain number of Study Groups, complete the organs of the E.B.U.

The Committees, through their specialists, play an important part within the Union. They are of a strictly consultative nature and report to the Council in all questions within their competence. They supervise the activities of the permanent establishments and study all the questions the solution of which might be of interest to Members.

Each Member of the Union has the right to be represented within each Committee which sets up its own internal regulations and elects a Bureau.

The Study Groups Each Committee may propose to the Council the setting up of Study Groups, in some cases called “Working Parties”, for the study of certain problems that require the collaboration of experts from the various sound and television broadcasting organisations. The competence of these working parties is restricted to the questions laid down in their terms of reference, and their activity ceases when those terms have been fulfilled. The role of the working parties is consultative, each working party reporting to the Committee of which it is part. The number of E.B.U. Working Parties varies during the course of the years and follows with flexibility the development of broadcasting. The description of the activities of the E.B.U. brings out the importance of the work accomplished by these small working parties whose meetings are one of the most lively forms of the E.B.U.’s activities.

The permanent establishments To handle its extremely diverse tasks and to coordinate the work it carries out with the participation of its Members, the E.B.U. has available two permanent establishments employing some eighty persons, including administrative staff, engineers and jurists, of different nationalities, who are normally recruited from the Members of the E.B.U.

The non-technical tasks are handled by the Administrative Office of the E.B.U., at the Registered Office of the Union at 1, rue de Varembé, Geneva. This is the permanent secretariat of the Union.

The Office includes the administrative, legal and programme departments of the Union and is accommodated in the very modern buildings of the International Centre on the Place des Nations. These departments deal notably with the non-technical aspects of international television programme exchanges.

At the meetings of the General Assembly and the meetings of the Administrative Council, the Director of the Administrative Office acts as Secretary General to these Assemblies.

The Director of the Administrative Office is Dr. Charles Gilliéron.

The Legal Adviser of the Union is Dr. Georges Straschnov.

The Technical Centre of the E.B.U. is the permanent engineering organ of the Union.

Its central departments are accommodated in Brussels, at 32, avenue Albert Lancaster, Uccle, in a spacious building situated on the edge of the city.

The Technical Centre operates a Receiving and Measuring Station situated at Jurbise, to the south-west of Brussels.

An International Coordination Centre for television programme exchanges, is also operated by the Technical Centre and is accommodated in the Palais de Justice in Brussels, which also houses the microwave link equipment of the R.T.B. (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Belge).

The Director of the Technical Centre is Mr. Georges Hansen.

The Chief Engineer is Mr. J. Treeby Dickinson.

The permanent establishments publish the E.B.U. Review, which is the Union’s main publication.

Financing the Union’s activities The expenses of the Union are covered by the Active and Associate Members, according to an annual budget voted by the General Assembly.

The Active Members of the E.B.U. pay a subscription for each financial year. The subscriptions of the Active Members, whose revenue is derived mainly from licence fees payable by users of receiving sets or from Government subsidies, are calculated in terms of the number of licences issued for payment on the 1st January preceding the beginning of the financial year in question. The subscriptions of the other Active Members are determined by the Administrative Council, having regard to the service operated and the particular position of each of these Members.

Associate Members pay no subscription, but contribute to the expenses of the Union, having regard to the services rendered by the latter and the financial resources of each of these Members. This share consists, on the one hand, of an annual contribution, the amount of which is fixed each year by the Administrative Council for each Member considered separately and, on the other hand, of a payment to compensate for any special work that might have been undertaken at their request by the E.B.U., the amount of this payment being fixed at the end of the financial year by the Administrative Council.

The building at Uccle, Brussels, occupied by the Technical Centre of the European Broadcasting Union.

This building, which was constructed in 1937 for the International Broadcasting Union (I.B.U), is situated in a residential district on the outskirts of Brussels. In 1961, an additional storey was added in order to cope with the expansion of the Technical Centre’s activities, in particular those relating to Eurovision. On the ground-floor, a conference room makes it possible for meetings of Working Parties and sub-groups to be held in the Centre.

Activities in the Programme field

Activities in the

Programme field

Work of the Programme Committee

When the E.B.U. was founded at Torquay on 12th February 1950, the Legal and Technical Committees were set up immediately by decision of the General Assembly. Some three years later, on 10th November 1953 to be precise, the Programme Committee was created at the proposal of the Administrative Council. This Committee whose task has grown increasingly important, especially since the development of television, meets twice a year, in the spring and autumn, and has as members the television programme directors of the Union’s member organisations or their delegates. This permanent body’s province is the study of all the general aspects of the field which has been assigned to it and its terms of reference are, more particularly, to deal with the problems raised by international exchanges of programmes and first and foremost those relating to television. Under this heading may be included direct exchanges and exchanges on film, news exchanges, and special programmes.

The main work of the Programme Committee consists in preparing international programmes, studying the problems posed by staff training and making provision for international exchanges in many fields, but the Committee does not for that reason ignore the problems arising from the repercussions of such work on the legal and technical spheres.

That is why the Programme Committee works, whenever necessary, in close cooperation with the Technical and Legal Committees.

Activities of the Study Groups

Each Committee is entitled to set up, where necessary, study groups composed of experts in a particular field. The Chairman of a study group, whose competence extends only to the question which has been referred to it for study, is always a director who is a member of the Committee, so that liaison with the Committee can be maintained and the work conducted in a realistic, useful and efficient manner. The secretariat of these bodies is provided, in the interests of coordination, by the Administrative Office which plays an active and practical part in the work of the Programme Committee’s study groups.

The international television relays over the Eurovision Network, the Daily News Exchange Scheme, the organisation of special international programmes, such as the agricultural and youth magazines, and television for schools, are among the principal activities which the E.B.U. Programme Committee has entrusted to its Study Groups and which we shall describe briefly.

Planning Group

The Planning Group is mainly responsible for the organisation and coordination of the majority of programme exchanges of important topical events, known as Eurovision. This function is specified in the description of Eurovision operations later.

Among the important tasks that fall to this Group are the Grand Prix of the Eurovision Song Contest, the implementation of the project entitled “The Largest Theatre in the World” and relays of major sporting events such as the world football, ice hockey, athletics and gymnastics championships, or the summer and winter Olympic Games, among other things.

The latest statistics issued at the end of 1961 indicate that 2275 Eurovision programmes for a total of 2366 hours had given rise to 12,733 relays.

News Exchanges

The News Exchange Study Group deals with the daily exchange of news which is distributed in closed circuit over the Eurovision Network. This news is recorded by all the participating services for use in their television newsreels the same evening. In the last few months these exchanges have expanded considerably and have helped to speed up the supply of information and make a valuable contribution to television newsreels.

Within the framework of the programme exchanges, the E.B.U. decided to organise two series of large-scale special international magazine programmes, which the diversity of the material contributed by the participants has rendered extremely interesting. Two of the Study Groups of the Programme Committee have been responsible for such series: the Agricultural Programme Study Group and the Children’s Programme Study Group.

View of the main hall of the Palazzo dei Congressi, Rome, where the International Conference of Radio and Television Organisations on School Broadcasting was held in December 1961. This conference was initiated by the E.B.U. and organised by the Radiotelevisione Italiana.

Agricultural Programme

The production of an international agricultural magazine programme comes within the province of the Agricultural Programme Study Group. Each organisation supplies an average of six subjects per year for agricultural films, and uses between thirty and fifty subjects of foreign origin. The Group is also studying a joint production on “European cattle”, and it is trying to devise a system of mutual information relating to available material, plans for outside broadcasts etc.

Children's Programmes

The Children’s Programme Study Group is responsible for producing another international magazine, for children in this case. The Children’s International Magazine has been in existence for several years and the experts in this Group endeavour in the course of their meetings to find ways of developing and improving it. Other types of exchanges are also given careful study; these include exchanges of documentary films and film series, or live and deferred transmissions.

Educational Television

Several questions are studied by the Educational Television Study Group whose main objectives it would be interesting to list: to provide teaching circles with fuller information on the possibilities of school television; to set up and circulate a card index keeping member organisations informed of material available for exchange; to study coproduction projects; to promote study tours for specialised production staff, particularly those responsible for animation and visualisation; to organise in-service training courses for producers of school television; and finally to produce the first international series of school programmes, on economic geography.

• •

Apart from its activities directly related to the programme material, the E.B.U. has concerned itself particularly with the problem of the training of programme staff and has organised many schemes having that purpose in view. Moreover, the E.B.U. has collaborated directly in the work of the more important international bodies and participates in the organisation of several international artistic festivals.

Staff training problems

A product of the Educational Television Study Group was the training course, entitled “From Idea to Image”, intended for directors and producers with a certain general experience of television, which was held in Basle from 7th to 14th February 1962. This school-television course, organised by the 🇨🇭 S.S.R., met with great success. There were more than 31 participants and 19 active and associate Members of the E.B.U. were represented. Fifteen teachers contributed to a review of the many educational problems connected with school television. Thirty-three programmes were viewed and discussed.

Mention should also be made in this field of the course organised by the 🇬🇧 B.B.C. for television designers. This took the form of a conference on television scenic design held in London from 7th to 15th May 1962 and was acknowledged to be a great success.

The same can be said of the 3rd international course for television producers on “the broadcast drama” which was organised by the 🇫🇷 R.T.F. from 28th May to 16th June 1962 in Paris and whose lectures were of tremendous interest to the many participants.

Nor should we forget the very important part played in the international field by the International Conference of Radio and Television Organisations on School Broadcasting organised by the 🇮🇹 R.A.I. in Rome from 3rd to 9th December 1961 and sponsored by the E.B.U.. Delegates from 64 countries were thus given the opportunity to take stock of past experience and consider future plans in the field of school broadcasting.

Several issues of the E.B.U. Review – Part B have been devoted to television scenic design. These two examples were among the many described.

Set designed for a Racine tragedy, Berenice, produced by Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française. The highly decorative floors allow for plunging shots, with one camera moving above a cyclorama.

Set for a television variety programme entitled Music ’60, presented by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Co-operation with other International Organisations

Another of the E.B.U.’s activities at the international level is its cooperation with a large number of important international organisations including the 🇺🇳 United Nations, Unesco, the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Film and Television Council and the International Union for Child Welfare. In this field, the E.B.U. originates and encourages a wide variety of activities which have a direct bearing on the international scene, often in connection with the anniversaries of these institutions.

The same spirit of cooperation prompted the E.B.U. to attend the important meeting on educational broadcasting in tropical Africa organised by Unesco in Moshi (Tanganyika) in September 1961. The Union was also represented at the Unesco meeting in Paris in January and February 1962 on the development of information media in Africa.

Rural broadcast training course for Asians enabling students to study the work of the Rural Department of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This is one example of the help that E.B.U. Members are giving to developing nations.

International Festivals

In the field of major international meetings, the E.B.U. has taken important measures to avoid a chaotic proliferation of international competitions and to prevent these competitions and festivals from overlapping and duplicating each other. This has allowed the Union to adopt a favourable position with regard to competitions and festivals whose regulations have been submitted to it in good time and have received its approval.

The names and main characteristics of these international radio and television competitions are as follows:

The Eurovision Grand Prix of Television Films, Cannes, reserved to films specially produced and devised for television by independent producers; the Golden Rose of Montreux Contest, for television variety broadcasts; the International Television Festival, Monte Carlo; the Salzburg Opera Prize.

Mention should also be made of the traditional Prix Italia, awarded to the best dramatic, musical and documentary works, which is organised independently and is financed by broadcasting organisations that are for the most part members of the E.B.U.

Special course in broadcasting for visitors from overseas, organised by the B.B.C. in the spring of 1957. Visitors from Cyprus, Hong-Kong, Uganda, Aden and Sierra Leone are seen here rehearsing for a feature programme exercise.