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Defending media pluralism by monitoring threats in the Member States

Submitted by on April 20, 2011 – 15:02No Comment

On March 31, civil soci­ety and press organ­i­sa­tions, along with MEPs and jour­nal­ists gath­ered for a work­shop on Media plu­ral­ism in Europe.
In the com­ing weeks, we will run sev­eral sto­ries on this vital issue, also fea­tured in our White Paper.

“Today, this con­fer­ence isn’t about Italy or Hun­gary, it is about media plu­ral­ism being under pres­sure in Europe” stated MEP Morten Løkkegaard at the open­ing of the Euro­pean Ini­tia­tive For Media Plu­ral­ism work­shop on 31 March.
Event though Mr Løkkegaard has a point, media plu­ral­ism in Europe is very much depend­ing on the Mem­ber states.
Tana de Zuluta from the Ital­ian organ­i­sa­tion Arti­colo 21 illus­trated it by explain­ing that the Ital­ian posi­tion on media-mogul Rupert Mur­doch con­glom­er­ate is very dif­fer­ent from the British views. While in the UK, Mur­doch is the quin­tes­sence of a dom­i­nant mar­ket posi­tion, in Italy he is “fiercely defend­ing media plu­ral­ism and fight­ing the thresh­old set by the gov­ern­ment so that Mr Berlusconi’s media empire still is below it” she pointed out.

The active pres­ence of MEPs from four polit­i­cal groups showed the will to work, as Maria Badia I Cutchet said, “hand in hand with civil soci­ety to make move the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion” and to pro­vide “to national issues a Euro­pean solu­tion”. But how? Maria Badia I Cutchet and Patrick le Hyaric stressed the prob­lem that in the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion the issue of plu­ral­ism is still seen as a good in a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. How­ever a lack of plu­ral­ism in the media affects fun­da­men­tal rights of Euro­pean cit­i­zens. At the moment though, the Com­mis­sioner in charge of fun­da­men­tal rights, Vivianne Red­ing, refuses to act.

Judith Sar­gen­tini high­lighted the fact that the trust of media in Europe isn’t the only prob­lem. She stressed: “We must ensure an inde­pen­dent man­age­ment of media too” and fight, as Patrick le Hyaric for­mu­lated, against the “con­san­guin­ity between eco­nomic and polit­i­cal pow­ers”.

Among other national exam­ples, Cristina Patrashkava, Edi­tor in Chief of the Gale­ria, a Bul­gar­ian News­pa­per, described the sit­u­a­tion in her coun­try, where “80 % of the news­pa­pers are owned by a deputy of the Bul­gar­ian party Move­ment for rights and lib­er­ties, which sup­port the gov­ern­ment.” She warned “We are see­ing a pro­gres­sive dis­ap­pear­ance of all the oppo­si­tion newspapers”.

The OSCE, like the Coun­cil of Europe, have worked a lot and advanced on the issue of plu­ral­ism but “as a watch­dog that can bark but not bite”, noted Direc­tor Roland Bless, from the OSCE Office of the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Free­dom of the Media.

At the end of the work­shop, all par­tic­i­pants decided to launch a Euro­pean Ini­tia­tive on media plu­ral­ism with two ori­en­ta­tions. First, an active mon­i­tor­ing of threats to media plu­ral­ism in mem­ber states employ­ing the impor­tant Media Plu­ral­ism Mon­i­tor pro­duced at the request of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. Sec­ondly, the pro­posal of a strong antitrust leg­is­la­tion at the Euro­pean level. As under­lined above, antitrust mea­sures can’t be the panacea but have been con­sid­ered the most real­is­tic way to force the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to move, regard­ing to its actual competences.

More info

Read the con­clu­sion of the conference

Towards a Euro­pean Ini­tia­tive for Media Plu­ral­ism – March 31st, 2011

Related posts:

  1. Coun­cil of Europe alerts Mem­ber states against threats to free­dom of expres­sion of new media
  2. Should media plu­ral­ism be legally guaranteed?
  3. Towards a Euro­pean Ini­tia­tive for Media Plu­ral­ism — March 31st, 2011
  4. Cit­i­zen ini­tia­tive for Media Plu­ral­ism: from Brus­sels to Bologna
  5. Should Community-Based Media be sup­ported by Mem­ber States?

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