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Science in Europe 2020

Final Report Summary - SC2020 (Science in Europe 2020)

Background of the project 'Science in Europe 2020'

Founded in 1950 the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is the largest association of national broadcasters in the world. It gathers 75 broadcasters from 56 countries in and around Europe. Moreover it has a very large network of associate members and sister unions in the five continents with which it collaborates very tightly. It promotes cooperation between broadcasters and facilitates the exchange of audiovisual content. The EBU works to ensure that the crucial role of public service broadcasters is recognised and taken into consideration by decision-makers and has launched over the past years an ambitious programme of audiovisual co-productions aiming at reinforcing the presence of science on European television screens.

The DG Research of the European Commission has launched a programme entitled 'Science in society' which addresses societal engagement from many perspectives, such as encouraging dialogue between scientists and other members of the public, by promoting an adherence to ethical standards, and by developing better ways for the results of research to be accessed by all. In this perspective, the European Commission launched in 2006, in close cooperation with the EBU, a pilot phase to develop audiovisual content in the scientific field.

Pursuant to this pilot phase, the EBU and the European Commission have signed on 5 June 2008, an agreement for a project entitled 'Science in Europe 2020' (the 'EC Agreement') under which the DG Research has awarded to the EBU a funding to be invested in the production of audiovisual documentaries in the scientific field selected in close cooperation with the EBU.

The project 'Science in Europe 2020' has been led by the coproduction unit of the Eurovision TV department (see http://www.eurovisiontv.com online) with its focus and expertise in the development and the coproduction of TV programmes throughout all the TV genres, and in particular in the field of scientific programmes.

Objectives:

The main objectives of 'Science in Europe 2020' was to increase scientific awareness among European citizens by encouraging professional exchanges among European public service broadcasters, by facilitating the distribution of television programmes in the field of science outside their country of origin and by enabling the coproduction of twelve commercial hours of audiovisual programmes focusing on European science, targeting a larger audience (including young people) and to be broadcast on a minimum of four different countries.

Work performed and results achieved:

- Platform for professional exchange

To enhance exchanges among European audiovisual professionals, the EBU has successfully organized, as planned, on 8/9 May 2008 in Lucerne (Switzerland) the professional exchange platform 'Eurovision science and education experts' group' which gathered a total of 112 participants coming from 22 different countries.

- Pilot phase of distribution activities in the field of science TV programmes

By negotiating and obtaining distribution rights to most of the programmes coproduced through this grant agreement the EBU has built up a catalogue which has enabled launching a pilot phase of distribution activities in the field of TV science programmes. Through its active participation in TV markets and festivals it has been possible for the EBU to gather information on the market and its various players, in order to build personal contacts and accessing the relevant information about the buyers and decision makers in this field within the various international broadcasters. A database of these people has been drafted and put at the disposal of the EC.

- Production of audiovisual scientific content and distribution/dissemination thereof to the public at large

The EBU has coordinated the co-production of twelve hours of popular scientific programmes on different areas of European scientific research. These programmes, selected from a wide number of available projects, have been produced, broadcast and distributed on various media in order to reach a wide public in Europe and beyond through different target ages.

The programmes selected to be part of the project 'Science in Europe 2020' have all been produced by independent European producers. For each programme, the funding of the production budget has been partially assured by the EBU's reinvestment of a share of the EC grant. No programme has been fully financed by the EC grant. Each time the majority of the production budget has been funded via the EBU's network of broadcasters, independent producers, foundations, national and regional institutions and funds and thanks to the self-investment of the independent production companies.

These programmes provide a wide perspective on science status to the European viewer since they deal with various scientific fields going from nanotechnologies to marine and maritime research, from evolution biology to energy and nuclear energy research, from sustainable development to environmental research. Each programme portrays and highlights important results reached by the scientific research in Europe in these key fields.

All the content coproduced has been made available to large audiences through commercial and non commercial media: national, regional and international broadcasting, video on demand platforms, home video (DVDs and blue rays) and educational institutions. All of these programmes have also been selected to be screened in many film festivals and public screenings and have received press coverage thanks to their broadcast on national TV channels.

All the coproduced programmes are currently on the catalogue of different commercial distributors in charge of all distribution rights (broadcasting and other media rights) which will continue exploiting them in all the interested territories and platforms in the coming years.

In compliance with the requirements of the project, the following documentaries have been duly produced and delivered, together corresponding to twelve hours of scientific content disseminated to the public at large:

'Coastlines'

Type: documentary mini-series (five episodes)
Duration: five hours
Topic: sustainable development around European coasts (through Norway, France, Italy, Egypt and the Netherlands) focusing on European scientific research
Producer: French independent production company Bleu Krystal Media
Audience reached: the mini-series has been made available in several linguistic versions to the public at large of several countries through their national broadcasters in France, Germany, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Armenia, Cyprus and Iran

'Welcome to nanoworld'

Type: documentary mini-series (four episodes)
Duration: four hours
Topic: nanotechnologies; the mini-series touches different aspects of these relatively new technologies, from the history of their discovery, their concrete applications in our everyday lives to the fear for our health and the environment
Producer:French production company La Compagnie du Taxi Brousse

Audience reached: the mini-series has been made available in several linguistic versions to the public at large of several countries through their national broadcasters in France, Estonia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, as well as through educational institutions or access to the home video market in Taiwan, United States, France and Canada

'The origins of language'

Type: documentary (one episode)
Duration: one hour
Topic: evolution biology, giving the public a better understanding of the relation between the functioning of the brain and the language,
Producer: French production company Crescendo Films.
Audience reached: the documentary has been made available in several linguistic versions to the audiences of several countries through their national broadcasters in France, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Iran, Cyprus, Spain, Portugal, Portuguese-speaking Africa, Hungary, China and through international networks: Asia, Europe, Africa, Maghreb, France-Belgium-Switzerland, Latin America, United States, Pacific Region.

'Public enemy number 1: carbon'

Type: documentary (one episode)
Duration: in two versions (a one-hour and a 26 minutes version)
Topic: sustainable development to environmental research, the documentary explains the cycle of the CO2 gas, mainly responsible of the global warming, and provides scientific solutions to reduce its emissions in the atmosphere.
Producer: Greek production company BlueWing TV Productions
Audience reached: the documentary has been made available in several linguistic versions to the audiences of several countries through their national broadcasters: France, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Cyprus, Ireland, Switzerland, Brazil, or international networks: Maghreb as well as free of charge through educational institutions all over Europe.

'Time machine'

Type: documentary (one episode)
Duration: one hour
Topic: energy and nuclear energy research, the documentary deals with the last months of preparation of a 17-year long ambitious project (the LHC in the CERN) that allows the recreation of the conditions that existed just after the Big Bang, and which will complete, perhaps revolutionise, our understanding of the universe. The documentary shows exclusive images of the structures of LHC and ATLAS, the largest of its four detectors, that tracks the new particles produced by the collision.
Producer: Swiss production company BBD Polymedia
Audience reached: the documentary has been made available in several linguistic versions to the audiences of several countries through their national broadcasters: Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece and Iran.

Anticipated impact and conclusions:

Thanks to the multiple channels which have been granted commercial and non-commercial rights to exhibit the documentaries to several millions of viewers in Europe and beyond, the scientific awareness of the European viewers should be increased.

Creating a 'virtuous collaboration' between independent TV producers, the EBU, European broadcasters and the EC in the funding of scientific audiovisual programmes, independent producers have had access to additional financing for making better scientific films and more accessible to wider audiences.

By facilitating the audiovisual production and international dissemination of scientific content, 'Science in Europe 2020' will contribute to a better understanding between scientists, science communicators and the public at large.

Given the very positive results of 'Science in Europe 2020' (for the quality of the content produced and the outreach to large audiences, through both traditional and new media) which are being confirmed by the ongoing overlapping project 'Science in Europe 2' (SiE2 - to be concluded in 2012), the EBU would be willing to engage itself in such a cooperation on a regular basis.

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