Unhappy engineers of the European soul: The EBU and the woes of Pan-European television

Jérôme Bourdon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article recounts the history of the numerous attempts to create or promote a European identity through television and explores the reasons for their failure. From the 1950s, engineers of the European soul, with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) playing a central part, resorted to a variety of technologies and genres: simultaneous live broadcasts in Eurovision, news exchange, later satellite television, highbrow drama and popular entertainment notably with the Eurovision song contest. Even when they reached an audience, these attempts failed with respect to their main aim, as they were based on a false, deterministic view of television as a medium and on a dated, communicative view of the nation where media have the power to shape collective identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Communication Gazette
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Collective identity
  • Eurovision
  • History
  • Language
  • Nation
  • National identity
  • News
  • Satellite
  • Television policy


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