To meet the changing communication needs of MEPs and the related growing interest of the media, the European Parliament has set up high value-added audio-visual services on its premises. Using the NETIA radio production and playout software, the audio feature of these services enables journalists and MEPs, with the assistance of technicians present in Brussels, to produce, share and broadcast new information as and when the parliamentary sessions take place.
In 2015, we registered 7,000 bookings for the various audio-visual services we make available to MEPs (45% of bookings) and the media. Every year, we register a 20% increase in demand, clear proof that our services are relevant.
A project to modernise and extend the studios
Up until 2005, the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg had only some radio studios that were in a growing state of dilapidation and that were located far from the debating chambers the sessions took place in. These studios were little used but were enough to meet the low demand of MEPs and the media.
The services on offer at the time had little added value, and we hardly communicated about their existence. But in 2005, with the emergence in particular of social networks, we became aware that MEPs’ communication needs were changing, and increasing exponentially. admits Marc De Martelaer.
The European Parliament’s Radio and Multimedia unit thus began to modernise the existing studios by adding cameras to enable the creation of podcasts for media websites and videos for MEPs’ social network feeds.
In 2009, we had the opportunity to set up an open multimedia space 30 metres from the assembly room in Brussels. For this new space, that was far removed from the other studios, we needed an audio solution that was powerful enough to produce and broadcast audio news, and be capable of bringing our various studios into a network so that the news items produced could be shared and used in all the studios.
NETIA software chosen to equip the remote radio studios
After a major call for tenders launched with integrators on various technical blocks and their implementation, the Radio and Multimedia unit chose French editor NETIA.
My colleague and I were the only permanent members of the unit at that time, and we are former employees of the RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge de la communauté Francophone, the national broadcasting organisation serving French-speaking Belgium) where we used NETIA software every day, explains Marc De Martelaer.
Our choice was thus influenced by the fact that we had good knowledge of the product, and had already tested its agility, technical resistance and user-friendliness. Furthermore, we were also ready to deploy it on the field.
Today, via its Radio and Multimedia unit, the European Parliament offers MEPs and journalists a broad spectrum of top-of-the-range audio-visual services. In Brussels, 8 to 18 external technicians, depending on needs, are on-hand to help them produce, create and broadcast news items from three traditional radio studios, a large multimedia postproduction studio, a video studio with a green screen, and a few steps away from the Parliament assembly room, the open multimedia space with a radio booth for multiplex broadcasting and portable equipment for stand-up interviews.
High value-added services for MEPs and journalists
Our new services are highly successful because they facilitate live and multiplex broadcasts, and save a lot of time for journalists and MEPs, who generally have no technical skill. adds Marc De Martelaer.
NETIA software plays a central role in our technical infrastructure: it ensures the networking of the studios, the creation of monaural audio news items in any studio, their broadcasting and sharing, as well as the archiving of everything that is produced.
We have no legal obligation for such archiving, but we believe it to be politically relevant to archive all audio recordings, especially considering that the NETIA databases are nowhere near being full and give us this possibility.
Foreign journalists no longer even need to travel to Brussels: good technicians can do the work for them remotely.
Since the NETIA suite is a well-known and market-leading product, our technicians have been trained by our sub-contractors and they know the product perfectly.
The foreign journalists therefore no longer need to deal with the technical burden and complexity, and they can thus concentrate on their added value to the media and MEPs: their language skills, their good human relations and their in-depth understanding of the democratic work conducted by the European Parliament.