Arne Wessberg has taken up office as President of the European Broadcasting Union. He succceeded Albert Scharf, who was President for 18 years and has been named Honorary Life President of the Union, on 1 January 2001.
The Directors General of the public-service broadcasters of Europe elected Arne Wessberg (Director General of YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) on 1 July 2000 during the 51st EBU General Assembly in Lucerne, Switzerland.
On this occasion, Mr. Wessberg, aged 57, indicated that broadcasters and the EBU, directly concerned by the democratic, cultural and social needs and values of Europe must ‘in the present-day context of rapid change, preserve plurality of the media at a time of growing concentration of media groups’, and he believed that ‘quality and diversity are at the heart of public-service broadcasting, guaranteeing not only national content but also worldwide access to services rendered possible by new technologies.’
Albert Scharf, Director General of Bayerischer Runkfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting) and Director General for Sport of ARD (the federation of German public-service broadcasters), declared for his part that public-service broadcasting will continue to be as important in the digital era as it has been during the past 50 years. ‘The increase in choice of channels offered by digital is accompanied by a need for broadcasters who provide reliable news and programmes for all audiences.’
During the General Assembly in Lucerne, Boris Bergant, Deputy Director General of RTVSLO, Klaus Berg, Director General of ARD/Hessischer Rundfunk, Michèle Cotta, Director General of France 2 and Roberto Zaccaria, President of the RAI, were elected to the four positions of Vice-President; they also take office on 1 January 2001.
The EBU operates the Eurovision and Euroradio networks, organises exchanges of news as well as sports and cultural programmes, coordinates coproductions (notably the Eurovision Song Contest, documentaries and children’s animation series). The Union is active in the field of technical standardisation and development, provides training courses, gives legal advice and strategic information to its members, as well as defending public-service values. In 1993 the EBU was extended east-wards through its fusion with the OIRT, a Prague-based organisation grouping the broadcasters of Eastern Europe. It currently has 79 active members in and around Europe, and 48 associate members elsewhere in the world.
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David Lewis, Press Attaché.
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European Broadcasting Union