Philippe Cayla has been Chairman and CEO of EuroNews since 2003. A graduate of the Ecole des Mines de Paris, the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Cayla began his career as a civil servant in the Equipment, Industry and Foreign Trade Ministries and as a technical advisor to the French Minister of Foreign Trade, Michel Jobert. From 1985 to 1992, Cayla was the Sales and Finance Director, the Strategy Director and finally the Deputy Managing Director and Strategy Director for Matra-Marconi Space, Europe's largest spacecraft manufacturer and a provider of communications ground terminals, sub-systems for rocket launchers and supplies for the International Space Station. In 1993, Cayla joined Eutelsat, one of the world's leading providers of satellite infrastructure and telecommunications. Cayla began working in television directly in 2000, when he became Director of International Development at France Televisions. At EuroNews he succeeded Stewart Purvis. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/2/07
Question: How does EuroNews position coverage of issues for all of Europe?
Philippe Cayla: The peculiarity of EuroNews is to have a non-national point of view, a non-national editorial line. When we cover the affairs of a particular country, we don't take the point of this particular country, but we try to take the point of the neighboring countries, as well. When we report about Brussels, conversely to other European channels we don't take the national point of view of what is Brussels doing for this particular country. We are taking the general interest of the Europeans at large, and we try to understand if what Brussels is doing is good or bad for the Europeans as a whole—not for a particular country. That is what makes EuroNews very specific in reporting about Europe.
Question: How did you cover the Greek bailout?
Philippe Cayla: We present both rationales, of course. Every country, both Greece and Germany, have their own good reasons to act as they did. Of course, Greece is [...] for having committed to so much debt and for not having put in place the reforms that they need that they're now trying to implement. Conversely, the fact that the claim for bailout for other European countries is natural, it's part of European solidarity, and nobody can contest that. The point of Germany is that in fact they are the wealthiest and the richest country in Europe. They have committed to much support of other European countries that they are now a little fed up, so you can also understand their point of view. They are fed up with countries like Greece who are unable to manage their own problems properly.
It is also a rupture with traditional, I would say, common understanding in Germany that Germany was supporting Europe, and because of it's particular history it was a political necessity. So also in Germany there are some mixed feelings about whether other countries should or not react as Mrs. Merkel did. So in EuroNews, of course we present all facets of the story. We present... On screen you can see people shouting in the streets of Athens, you can see German leaders saying that Greece should sell out their islands in order to recover some money, which is absolutely a crazy idea. But we don't say it's a crazy idea—we just report the story, and we present Mrs. Merkel's side, too. We try to treat the view as an adult, and so to present him the facts as they are and to help him in making his own assessment of the situation, his own judgment. That's what we think is our [...] and our editorial line.
Question: What’s the biggest challenge for EuroNews?
Philippe Cayla: The main challenge is to be simple and attractive for the viewer, because of course nationalism has not disappeared in Europe. People are still very nationalist, and they care chiefly for their own domestic affairs, so to make them... to create the sense that neighbor's affairs are also interesting for them, not only intellectually but also practically. If they want to make business with neighboring countries or other European countries, if they want to travel, for touristic reason, for instance, they need to understand a little better. So we try to make it simple and attractive for a European watching EuroNews to have an eye on what we present and to try to catch a better understanding of the situation abroad. That's not easy because people—like everywhere in the world I think—but in Europe one could think that there is more solidarity feelings than in the rest of the world, but it's not really the case. In fact, everybody's very nationalistic. And so you have to create this feeling that there is some solidarity between the people, and that's not easy.
Recorded June 22, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman