Brussels, Sep 2005
For the first time, the European Union will directly fund television and radio co-productions in science and research. In an effort to boost science communication and bridge a well-documented awareness gap between science and society, the Commission has issued a call for audiovisual projects which it will consider co-financing. This move comes at an important time for the EU's executive body, as it builds up to CER 2005, a major science communication event, and the AthenaWeb portal it supports grows in stature.
For the first time in the history of the EU, money has been earmarked to fund audiovisual co-productions on the subject of research and science. A total of €1.6 million will go towards scientific programming for both radio and television. With the aim of encouraging European television and radio producers and stations to increase their science output, the Commission's Research Directorate-General launched a call for proposals, on 15 June.
EU funding targets projects that demonstrate they can bring science and technology closer to people, fostering communication between scientists and the public. One million euro will go towards developing audiovisual co-productions on science topics, while €600 000 is for actions promoting the exchange of user-friendly scientific information products – i.e. travelling exhibitions, documentaries, science theatre, etc. – across Europe.
Both measures are designed to support actions that can reach a public unfamiliar with research and scientific issues, including young people. Translation, and other adaptations for the specific needs of different countries, may also be financed as part of the projects. In the case of audiovisual productions, it will be necessary to include a clear indication for planned broadcasting of the programme.
This 'Science Communication' call falls under the Commission's 'Science and Society' initiative in the Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6). Briefly, this initiative seeks to increase public awareness of scientific and technological advances and their societal impacts; to develop a wider understanding of the culture of science and innovation; and to improve communication between the scientific community and the public on issues of European research.
To show the European dimension, projects submitted for funding under this call should, preferably, involve partnerships of EU Member States or countries Associated with the EU Framework Programme. According to the work programme for this scheme, interested producers can download all relevant texts from the FP6 'Science and Society' calls pages on the CORDIS web service. The call closes on 25 October.
This call, the upcoming CER 2005 (Communicating European Science) event, the launch of the AthenaWeb audiovisual portal, and the Commission's new communication action plan all work towards a broader mission to improve how the Union delivers its message to citizens – and how it listens to the feedback.
Earlier this year, the Commission delivered an action plan to 'Improve Communicating Europe by the European Commission'. The 50 actions set out in the plan are guided by three main principles calling on the Commission to listen to EU citizens and take into account their views; communicate to citizens how EU policies affect them and what added value they bring; and to connect with people by adapting messages to address audiences at the local level.
In June, the Commission-sponsored AthenaWeb – Europe's unique portal for professional high-quality scientific films and photos – went live with some 200 hours contained in over 40 films of free-view scientific footage available to professional science communicators across Europe. The portal is regularly adding to its film stock, and its list of events, market place and forums are seeing more and more use in the four months since its launch. The AthenaWeb team told Headlines they plan to launch an e-newsletter, AthenaNews, in the coming weeks and will follow this up with a marketing survey to help improve the service in the near future.