NBC’s news division has acquired a 25% stake in European news network Euronews, in a deal that will close this week and that will see the creation of a new EuronewsNBC brand bearing the American broadcaster’s famous peacock.
The two companies have been in talks since late last year and have agreed to a deal under which NBC News will pay $30 million for its share in the France-based news channel.
Euronews CEO Michael Peters said industry consolidation and the emergence of well-funded state-backed news operations such as Al Jazeera, France 24, Russia Today, and TRT World meant that Euronews had to examine its business. The company runs at a loss but expects to break even in 2020.
“This is one of the most creative partnerships made in the last decade in the media industry,” he said of the deal with NBC. “We have seen a concentration of media investment and have had to review our business model and the way we offer [news] to consumers.”
Aligning the two news organizations will allow the Euronews to recruit more journalists, have a larger footprint, and add to its staff in Brussels and other critical locations, the partners said.
NBC has invested in BuzzFeed, Vox Media, and Snapchat, all of which have news-aggregating and -reporting functionality.
Deborah Turness will oversee the EuronewsNBC partnership from the NBC side. She is president of NBC News International, having moved from president of the wider NBC news operation earlier this year. Turness said the Euronews deal meant NBC was adding to its domestic strength in the U.S., where it has MSNBC and NBC network news operations.
“We have spent some time looking to extend the brand and grow internationally,” she said. “We looked at various options, but there was no other news organization that could offer the scale and depth that Euronews has.
“We see the opportunity as unique. There is no direct competitor. We don’t see another news channel investing in Europe and Europe’s news story.”
Media Globe Networks, run by the billionaire Egyptian Sawiris family, remains the largest single shareholder in Euronews with a 60% stake. A group of public broadcaster and European state bodies will hold 15% and retain their position on the editorial board.
Headquartered in Lyon, France, Euronews employs about 500 journalists and reaches 434 million homes. The combined operation will see NBC News reporters contribute to Euronews’ U.S. coverage and Euronews editorial staff feed into NBC News’ reporting on Europe, which Turness said was vital at this time of upheaval.
“There hasn’t been a better moment to invest in telling Europe’s story,” she said. “Every day there are new developments and jeopardy.”