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Euronews to lay off 200 workers, move headquarters from Lyon

The iconic green headquarters of Euronews in Lyon, France. (Photo by Lydie22 via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)
The iconic green headquarters of Euronews in Lyon, France. (Photo by Lydie22 via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Pan-European news channel Euronews will lay off nearly 200 workers as a cost-cutting measure rooted in a new business strategy.

The reduction amounts to more than 40 percent of the channel’s workforce, according to a calculation by The Desk based on a reported headcount of 478 employees.

The redundancies were first reported by the French newspaper Le Monde. As part of the job cuts, Euronews is also slated to close its European headquarters in Lyon, France’s third-largest city. It will relocate its headquarters to Brussels while remaining a small bureau in Lyon; Euronews will also operate regional bureaus in Berlin, London, Lisbon, Madrid and Rome in an attempt to locate its foreign journalists closer to their home countries.

Euronews was established in 1992 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) following the success of American broadcaster CNN in covering the start of the Persian Gulf War, one of the first times a conflict was carried live on television.

The EBU — a consortium of public broadcasters from various European countries — launched Euronews to replicate CNN’s reporting, but from a European perspective.

Euronews members have come and go over the last three decades. In the early 1990s, British broadcaster ITV owned a 49 percent stake in the service, only to sell it in 2003.

In 2017, Euronews approved a surprise minority stake acquisition by Comcast’s NBC Universal, through which the American media company would pay $30 million for a 30 percent stake in the channel. By then, Euronews had grown to include localized variants in Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, English, French, German, Greek, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian and other languages.

NBC Universal’s share of Euronews eventually grew to nearly 90 percent of the channel. During its ownership of Euronews, NBC modified the channel’s style to include the launch of a new pan-European morning show, a refresh of Euronews’ graphics and music packages and the introduction of new on-air talent and studio locations.

NBC Universal sold its 88 percent share in Euronews in April 2020, about a month after the start of the global coronavirus health pandemic. The sale was intended to help Comcast focus on a new global news channel that would be powered by NBC News and London-based Sky News. The channel, NBC Sky World News, was eventually scrapped.

In late 2021, Portugal-based investment group Alpaca Capital announced it acquired an 88 percent stake in Euronews, giving it controlling interest in the news network. Public broadcasters in France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium subsequently withdrew their investments in Euronews.

Since Alpaca’s takeover, Euronews has reduced its original content output, relying more on news packages produced by its member state broadcast partners and international newswires. Like other broadcasters, Euronews has shifted its production strategy to focus more on creating short-form news packages and documentaries that appeal to streaming news consumers; many of these stories have been repurposed on the Euronews television channels, with mixed degrees of success.

Earlier this year, the channel refreshed its on-air presentation to include a rolling feed of Twitter posts from various news outlets, including the Associated Press and Agence France Presse. Nearly all of the sources used for the Twitter graphics originate from outside Euronews and its broadcast partners.

Euronews has also sought to introduce more global viewers to its channels. In the United States, Euronews was once exclusive to cable and satellite providers, who often included it in foreign language channel packages that cost anywhere from $5 a month to $15 a month (Dish Network was one of the few providers to offer Euronews as a standalone add-on channel).

Over the last few years, Euronews has struck licensing agreements with several free streaming television platforms, making it more widely available in the United States beyond pay television services. Euronews is free to stream on Fox Corporation’s Tubi, Dish Network’s Sling Freestream, Plex, Haystack News and YouTube.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).