Zagreb, 10 March 2000
Dear Colleagues, dear Friends,
Since the period between this March and May is a very dynamic one and since very important decisions are going to be taken during this period, I do plead for your sending me your opinions and propositions as soon as possible.
Furthermore, as of 13 March 2000 our WEB site will be operational. The address is: http:// www.hrt.hr/cee/
May I ask the colleagues who still have not given the data on their radio and television stations, to do so soonest possible.
Furthermore, from 5 until 8 March 2000 Mr. Boris Bergant and myself were in Moscow and we had very useful talks with the representatives of Voice of Russia and RTR. It has been agreed that due to the circumstances and the practicality of work Mr. Konstantin Zlobig takes over the CEE Group Coordinator post as of March 2001. Until then HRT remains the Coordinator for our Group one more year.
I am very much looking forward to our meeting in Dubrovnik and in Madrid.
With best regards,
From the 105th Meeting of the EBU Administrative Council, Geneva, December 2/3, 1999
It may be considered a key meeting, since a couple of important decisions including those the regional group of Central and Eastern European countries have been struggling for were taken.
An overview of the committees' work established that the motivation among the members is quite high, yet it is unfortunately not being reflected by some of the services in Geneva, which ought to support the committees in their work, therefore the Administrative Council decided on the following long-term solutions:
Statutory Issues: After all possible misunderstandings around the aim and idea have been clarified, the Administrative Council passed a positive opinion on the proposal for change of the statutes, which will make it possible that the President and the Vice-Presidents of the EBU are elected among all active members and not only out of the alternating members of the Administrative Council. This is certainly a democratic step forward, since it opens up the present rigid order sometimes referred to as "the closed list".
Staffing: The Administrative Council furthermore adopted a new EBU orientation in personnel policy including a more even geographical representation, which was one major issue the CEEC group stood in for. Out of 235 employees of the Permanent Services in Geneva, 43 are coming from Belgium, 41 from France, 71 from Switzerland, 6 from the UK, whereas there are only 6 people from the whole CEEC group. This question has already been discussed in length. At this meeting a binding directive on special attention to be paid to more equal employment as far as geographical areas are concerned has been passed, whereby the basic criterion remains qualification. However, in case of doubt between two candidates with equal qualifications preference shall be given to the candidate from a less represented country.
This policy will go parallel to a focused introduction of noviciates and training of staff in Geneva financed by the EBU (3 to 6 months) aiming at the interested organisations and individuals from the CEEC's offering them a chance to prepare for duties possibly being taken on at a later point.
Support to the Members: The Administrative Council furthermore passed a policy of co-financing travel expenses to the meetings of all EBU bodies for all members from the allowance list of the so-called Zecchini scale. On our proposal the initial solution has been altered so that the EBU will cover the full travel costs of the delegates, who are entitled to 50 % or more allowance in payments. This provision shall be in force for a trial period of 2 years, after which the effectiveness of this tool shall be revised. It is an important achievement in the implementation of our standpoints, since it ensures an equal participation of all members, also those facing financial difficulties, thus enlarging the space for democratic decisions within the Union.
It needs to be added that we once again demanded that by the next session (after a thorough study in the Financial Committee) the investment share of the single EBU members be defined as mortmain, which can be together with the interest rates be claimed back by a member deciding, for instance, to revoke membership and similar cases. The Permanent Service was reluctant to accept this claim, whereby it represents the first in a series of demands to reduce the unnecessary high reserves, capital investments and in advance payments, which are unnecessarily and non-productively piling up in Geneva while the members are struggling with cash-flow problems.
The Supremacy of Sports? Some shadows were thrown by the uncertain outcome of the tender for the 2004 European Football Championship, where, to my knowledge, the management of the EBU engaged itself heavily by offering a high and risky price of 800 million SFr, which is for the time being without coverage of the members.
The discussion highlighted the opinion that a loss of the tender (later on it turned out that the EBU obtained the exclusive rights) might endanger the existence of the EBU, which after consideration seems to be an unbearable hypothesis, which needs to be thoroughly discussed in the following months, since it endangers the future perspectives of the Union.
Personnel Issues: Initially, I would like to mention the election of the current Internal Auditor, Mr. Tomas Roxstrom from SR to the post of President of the EBU Financial Committee, which has been vacant due to the unexpected death of our respected colleague Marti Partanen from YLE.
The focal point was however the decision on the future of the Permanent Service management in Geneva, which has contracts expiring in 2001.
The question and its history are a well-known matter.
Furthermore, it's a well-known fact that the majority opinion was that the EBU Permanent Service needs changes introducing a younger generation of operative directors. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of adjusting going on behind the stage and as it happens, this session has due to a heavy illness not been chaired by Prof. Scharf, but by Xavier Gouyou Beauchamps.
As you know, up to this session the standpoint of the EBU Presidency was that the fate of the directors is not to be decided in this mandate of the Presidency, since the majority of the present members will have to leave and that the decision is left to the new Presidency to be elected in summer 2000.
As it appears, some members have changed their mind just before the session. Prof. Scharf authorised Mr. Beauchamps to announce that he proposes a 2-year prolongation of the contract with the Secretary General, Mr. Jean-Bernard Muench, who proposed that the contract with the Director of the Legal Department, Mr. Rumphorst, be prolonged for the same period. Mr. Perez and Mr. Alexanderson intend to retire after the expiring of their contracts in 2001 and the expiring of the contract with Mr. Stucchi shall be discussed at the next meeting in May.
This deviation from the standpoints harmonised beforehand caused a lot of bad feelings. Mr. Beauchamps reacted to it and in agreement with Prof. Scharf he revised the proposal to a 1-year prolongation for the contract with Mr. Muench (until spring 2002) during the session, while many speakers from different geographical areas still supported the initial solution, i.e. not to take any final decisions taking over possible financial implications to ensure an appropriate livelihood of the affected and to leave the decision up to the new presidency. We wanted to prevent the discussion to turn out as having no principles, since it is not decisions on persons, but on strategic orientation.
Mr. Beauchamps took the matter up to a point, where it appeared as a question of trust to the EBU President personally. The situation forced us to demand a voting procedure, before which the CEEC group managed to achieve a consultation break attended by some other representatives. During the break, we took the decision that we do not wish to cause a split in the organisation and that we will abstain from voting so that the decision has to be taken by those voting.
The outcome was that 8 organisations voted in favour of the 1-year prolongation and 8 abstained from voting. The BBC delegation had to deal with an internal misunderstanding, since the opinion of the delegation was different to those of the ceasing Vice-President; as it turned out, also the German delegation was of split opinion (ARD in favour, ZDF against). If we had been rigorous and have had demanded a repetition, it would probably have turned out that the majority was insufficient.
Yet nobody wished to make the situation even more difficult. Everybody was aware of the fact that an unpopular decision has been passed, which has been accompanied with the possibility that the contract be altered by the new presidency, of course within its competence.
At the same time, it almost came to a referendum on expressing support to Dr. Rumphorst, who shall be prolonged the contract for the full 5-year mandate, which shall be taken into consideration by the next EBU Presidency as the unanimous opinion of the Administrative Council.
The event was, however, an indication of the deep change of thinking patterns in the EBU membership, which will, as we hope, bring more tangible benefits in accordance with the will, opinion and demands of the membership.
On behalf of RTV SLO the undersigned and Mr. Vlado Senica participated at the session.
Boris Bergant Ljubljana, December 1999
14th Meeting of the Radio Committee was held in Geneva on 21 January 2000.
The meeting of the TV Committee was not held due to illness of the members. However, I am sending you my letter to Gaetano Stucchi regarding the proposed Sport Rights Acquisition Rules . As you well know there is a proposition that the Guarantors Group ("big members") who guarantee the financial means for rights acquisition, makes the decision on the amount each member is going to pay. If an EBU member does not agree with the sum, the Guarantors Group may sell the rights to a non-member in that country. As I am of the opinion that such a decision violates the spirit and the nature of the EBU as the organization, I sent this rather strongly warded letter the result of which was the deferment of new rules. However, I do consider this matter to be of utmost importance for our Group which requires further discussion that will result in our common opinion.
Encl. 1: Letter by M. Nemčić
Zagreb, 8 November 1999
My opinion is as follows:
1. According to the Draft Minutes of the 20th Meeting of the TVC, a meeting of the 5 TVC members was to be held in October. Did the meeting take place and what were the conclusions?
2. Generally, I do think that this is a very important decision which is going to be taken without the full scale insight and without the complete material.
3. Consequences of such new rules could be enormous and manifold.
First of all, these rules are general and nothing concrete is stipulated by them. Except that the acquired rights will be offered on the market, meaning, to the non-members. In such a relation, a link between the market and the solidarity is sought for. We do know well that this is not possible. Therefore, if we do decide for such a way of acquiring sports rights, we have to wipe out the word solidarity. That would be more honest. Further more, it would be honest, then, to consider the very function and the essence of the EBU. Is the EBU an organisation or an agency?
If we are the agency oriented to the market, then these rules do apply.
Though, if we are the organisation of equal members, then such rules do come in question. Namely, the fee that smaller countries and financially weaker members already pay for the sports rights to the EBU, are not in the least cheaper from the sports rights bought from various companies. They are more expensive, indeed. It is possible that such a way of acquiring the rights will enable the EBU to acquire the rights for a bigger number of events, to acquire the rights for certain events favourably, though such a way of acquiring the rights asks for personnel who will deal with rights acquisition exclusively.
Being a public broadcaster, who am I going to be guaranteed by for the objective criteria in acquiring the rights? Numerous members stick to the EBU because of the news and the sports. In this way we do away with one of the reasons and arouse considering whether the membership is necessary at all. And the last though not least, if we decide to offer the rights to the non-members, why not put all other co-productions on the open-market and see who will bid more.
Therefore, my opinion is that this decision will have the consequences that are wider than the sports rights.
This is, of course, only my reflections - aloud.
With best regards,
Encl. 2: Letter by Gaetano Stucchi
By E-mail Mrs Marija NEMCIC
And regular mail Head International Relations
The procedural objection you raise points at our omission to inform you that the planned "special meeting" was replaced by a conference call, and I apologise for that. On the other hand, the principle that non members in specific countries become eligible as partners or clients once their respective EBU national member have made use of its right of first refusal is already established and accepted for other EBU activities.
However, your contribution raises two fundamental questions :
Both are very serious questions that must be addressed. Following broad discussion across the Permanent Services in Geneva our colleagues in Operations decided to postpone this item to the May 2000 EBU Council, thus allowing for a comprehensive debate to take place atour next TV Committee of 20th of January.
Thanks again, Maria.
Copy : Mr Bob Collins
When the regional group for Central and Eastern European countries was created, the basic intention and wish was to bind in a group on principle of common goals and needs, in order to achieve better results in the EBU. Our wish was also to stimulate, regardless of the EBU, a better cooperation and develop better relations.
Our work was always public and there was no intention of plotting against the EBU. In the same way, each and every member of our Group, who is elected into any of the EBU bodies, represents the interest of the whole Group and has no private interest whatsoever.
To make the work of our Group successful, the concrete results are necessary, otherwise our working would be futile.
I am glad that our Group has caused important moves and has achieved results within the EBU in the past year. However, there is still a lot to be done.
Therefore, what we have achieved in the past year?
1. More representatives of our Group in different EBU bodies:
In TV Groups:
- Light Entertainment Programme - 1 Bureau Member (Czech Republic), 1
Member in the Referential Group (Croatia)
2. EBU is co-financing 5 travel expenses to the meetings of EBU bodies yearly (TV Assembly, Radio Assembly, General Assembly .) and for 1 representative from the country that has a 50% discount on the so-called Zecchini scale
3. Training of staff in Geneva for the representatives of our Group
4. General agreement on developing programme for members of our Group.
Regardless of the results achieved, there is still a lot of work to be done by our Group.
Among the most important tasks in the forthcoming period is a more even and larger representation of our members in the Permanent Services. Although it is very important to have more representatives in different EBU bodies, it is even more important to have our representatives in the Permanent Services in Geneva. The Permanent Services have the decisive role in strategy and the decisions of the EBU.
Therefore the propositions for our future activities are:
E.g. assisting in digitalization, free engineering, interest-free loans .
These are only the main goals which are to be achieved. It goes without saying that we must always respond to the new tasks coming from specific situations.
Taking into account the shortness of time and the rhythm of the EBU meetings, I do propose the following for the next four months:
The meeting should be brief, possibly during lunch. After that, I will organize the site-seeing for the members of our Group.
12 April 2000 from 16:00 until 18:30 or
13 April 2000, after the meeting, from 17:30 until 19:30
Kindly confirm your choice.
I am of the opinion that we should keep this rhythm of our meetings: 1 meeting, both Radio and Television, before the General Assembly and 2 meetings, Radio and Television separately, during the Radio and TV Assembly. In that way we shall reduce travelling expenses.
Marija Nemčić Zagreb, March 2000