Euractiv sold to Belgian Mediahuis: what is happening with the EU media?
Euractiv is not the only European media who struggles in staying afloat. The media landscape in Brussels is reshaping quickly. What does it change to public affairs practitioners?
We learned it yesterday. EU media Eurcativ is being sold to Mediahuis, a Belgian media company.
Mediahuis owns newspapers and magazines in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg and Germany, totalising 1,4 million readers per day.
The announcement was made in a press release by Euractiv and an opinion piece by its founder Christophe Leclercq.
The news came unexpectedly—but time for me—as The Beubble focuses on media relations this month. This is the perfect occasion to look at the trends that shape EU media and what these changes mean for Public Affairs practitioners.
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Why did Euractiv sold to Mediahuis?
This is what Christophe Leclercq, Euractiv founder, says in the Euractiv news on the decision:
Greater scale and reach are needed.
Understand: Euractiv is not profitable.
Many media, among them EU media, struggle to turn their activities into a profit. Selling news is hard in a world where attention is a priced and limited resource.
Christophe Leclercq continues:
The internet put pressure on paper subscriptions, then social media captures ad revenues. This triggered many demises and media concentration.
The founder of Euractiv and long-time EU bubble influencers proposes a solution: media concentration:
We are at the cusp of a new consolidation wave. Politically, this is even overdue, after Brexit, trump, and Putin’s war.
Enter Mediahuis. With its presence in five countries, Euractiv hopes that the Belgian company will bring business knowledge, skills, and perhaps most importantly, funding capabilities into AI, translation technologies, and marketing cooperation.
Is Euractiv’s case an isolated one?
Euractiv is not the only media that struggles to survive in the Brussels policy environment.
The potential for news is scarce in Brussels since most of European policies are designed, proposed, and implemented at the national level. The EU press is a very specific and technical one, which interests mostly public affairs professionals, policymakers and their immediate stakeholders. Very few people in Paris, Milan, or Hamburg read Brussels’ media.
Politico faces the same dilemma. Its US and UK editions are successful ones because a lot of people in these markets care about the nationwide issues—and I would not be surprised that their France edition soon becomes a major player soon.
But Brussels? Not so much. Politico’s Brussels’ Playbook is sponsored by big companies. Their most profitable product is organising events—again sponsored by big names. Euronews faces similar problems.
Selling news is a hard job.
That is why I think that Leclercq's reasoning is correct: media concentration is the way to go. provided it can guarantee media pluralism.
Actually, how many of you pay to read any EU newspaper?
What does it mean for public affairs professionals?
You will see some change.
First at Euractiv. I would not be surprised if the new owners of the EU media start changing things around. Perhaps some of the “Transportation”, “Agrifood”, or “Health” editions disappear. Perhaps replaced by industry-focused ones (chemicals, fisheries, etc.).
The rate of publications and the newsletters as we know them (the Capitals) will change to be replaced. Not overnight, but it will eventually.
Second, on the EU media landscape. As we saw above, this is not an isolated issue. Brussels’ media will evolve in the coming months and years.
Either media go with concentration, allying with cross-border media—like Euractiv did—or international groups—like Politico already did with the Springer Group.
Or it finds new and innovative ways to generate revenues. Contexte has a subscription model that allows itself to be independent but is reserved for the organisations which have the means and the necessity for the level of expertise it provides. Science|Business is focused on niche industrial policies.
I would not be surprised, either, to see, in the coming year, independent, one-person media influencers popping out. People with expertise in a specific field, are competent enough to give accurate and relevant information, using AI and digital tools on a scale we can’t exactly comprehend at the moment.
Public affairs professionals can do what they know best: be flexible. Be ready to explore new tools, new ways of work. The media landscape will evolve, and the advocacy practice must change with it.
What can you do
Thankfully, you are not alone.
This month, The Beubble is focusing on EU media relations and influence. At the end of May, I will publish a Complete Guide on EU Media Relations and Influence.
Today, you can co-create this guide. By filling it this quick form (only three short questions), you will receive an 80% voucher on the purchase of the Guide. Don’t miss the opportunity.
Alexandre Météreau is the author of The Beubble and a specialist in European policies and politics. Discover more about Alexandre at alexandre-metereau.eu.