Public Service Broadcasters & State Aid

28/11/2017 - 14:00
Le Bouche à Oreille, 11 Rue Félix Hap, 1040 Brussels.

*Registration for this event has closed. If you wish to participate in this seminar please contact*




This CERRE Executive Seminar examines the controversial issue of funding public broadcasters across the EU, questioning what state aid regulations have achieved (or failed to achieve) to date, and considering what key issues will (and should) play a role in the assessment of funding in the future.


Since the early 1990s, state aid cases concerning the funding of public broadcasters in EU Member States have provoked controversy.

During that time, the European Commission has reached several decisions affecting the funding schemes of public broadcasters. These have been based around three guiding principles:

  1. a well-defined public task;
  2. the formal entrustment and independent control of that task;
  3. the proportionality of state aid.

These principles were made explicit in the Commission’s 2001 Broadcasting Communication and, in light of the rapidly evolving media sector, were refined in 2009.

This updated framework requires Member States to provide for an ex-ante assessment of new media services of public broadcasters. These should be evaluated in light of their public value and economic impact on competitors. Several countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium (both language communities) and Denmark have adopted such a test.

However, these developments are themselves not without controversy.

While some argue the European Commission is simply imposing principles of good governance and ensuring fair competition, others doubt that the control of the Commission goes far enough and is effective in terms of curbing possible anti-competitive behaviour of public broadcasters.

Others argue that the Commission is engaged in micro-management and, in concerning itself with the operations of public broadcasters, has encroached on a key competence of Member States.

As the digital media market continues to evolve, such issues can only increase in importance. Private media organisations, including newspaper publishers, argue that the online activities of public broadcasters are too expansionist, while those broadcasters defend their right to manoeuvre in the digital space.

In light of these mounting pressures, the European Commission’s Competition Directorate General is investigating a number of complaints about the funding of public broadcasters in a variety of European Member States.

This CERRE Executive Seminar will bring together key stakeholders from all sides of the debate – public and private broadcasters, regulators, policy-makers and independent experts – for a frank discussion of the achievements and failures of state aid regulation to date, and to debate what factors should play a role in assessing state aid to public broadcasters in future. 

This event is reserved for CERRE members' representatives and a limited number of non-members.

*Registration for this event has closed. If you wish to participate in this seminar please contact*




Welcome and Introduction 

Alexandre de Streel

Joint Academic Director, CERRE,
Professor, University of Namur



Setting the Scene: European state aid control and public service broadcasting

Karen Donders 

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Response from stakeholders


Panel discussion - Assessing past performance: how well has state aid control worked over the past 20 years?  
Coffee Break
Panel discussion - Looking ahead: how future-proof is the state aid assessment procedure?
Conslusions & closing remarks


Ross Biggam

Vice President, Governmental Affairs EMEA,
Discovery Communications



Richard Burnley

Legal Director,
European Broadcasting Union



Damir Hajduk

Agency for Electronic Media, Croatia



Maxim Hauk

Representative to the EU Institutions, 


Bernardo Herman

Director General, 
CSA Belgium



Jacquie Hughes  

Director, Policy Content, 


Carolina Lorenzon

Director, International Affairs,



Pierre Petillault

Deputy Director, Public Affairs,



Ewoud Sakkers

Head of Unit ‘State Aid’, 
DG Competition, European Commission


Tuesday 28 November 2017, 14.00-14.00,
Le Bouche à Oreille, 11 Rue Félix Hap, 1040 Brussels.

CERRE members and nominated guests receive priority when registering. All other registrations are provisional until confirmed by email by CERRE. If you have any questions about your registration, or do not receive a confirmation email, please contact