Study: Europe Awash With TV News Channels Despite Some Closures

Europeans can watch more than 300 news channels, although there have been some shutdowns due to the economic crisis.

MOSCOW – Kremlin-funded English-language news channel RT, or Russia Today, is one of the most widely available TV news channels across Europe, according to a new report from the European Audiovisual Observatory.

The Strasbourg, France-based organization, which is backed by the European Commission, says that big-name international news channels available on the continent also include CNN, BBC World, Al Jazeera and Euronews.

Its report, entitled simply "TV News Channels in Europe – the best of time and the worst of times?,"  presents a generally positive picture of the diversity of TV news outlets.

Europeans can watch more than 300 news channels, the majority of them (80 percent_ privately owned in the 38 countries surveyed, the Observatory says.

There are 171 TV news channels within the 28 core EU countries and a further 33 available from EU candidate countries, plus additional services in Switzerland, Norway and Russia, nearly half of which are national services.

Viewers can also access another 80 or so news channels broadcast from other parts of Europe, the U.S, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Most of the 105 national news channels are privately owned, with only 21 in public hands. Spain, for example, has three public news channels. The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Ireland and Switzerland only have public news channels.

The number of free-to-view digital news channels has leapt by 27 to 43 over the past four years. This follows an explosion in news channels over the past decade, which came after the biggest expansion in outlets during the late 1990s through the 2000s.

The economic crisis has also forced the closure of some channels, with more than 25 shutting down over the past six years. Several of the closures were channels developed specially to target mobile phone users.

Greek news channel NET TV, CNN+, which targeted the Spanish market, and Slovenia's private news channel Info TV are among major recent TV news channel closures.

The report also notes that "despite the increased capacity on digital platforms, news channels are competing with a boom in other types of channels, in particular HD simulcasts that are competing for space on the distribution networks."