|Steering Committee (CDMSI)|
|Bureau of the Committee (CDMSI-BU)|
|Former Steering Committee (CDMC)|
|Former Bureau of the Committee (CDMC-BU)|
|Rights of Internet Users|
|Legal and Human Rights Capacity Building|
|FORMER GROUPS OF SPECIALISTS|
|Public Service Media Governance|
|Protection Neighbouring Rights of Broadcasting Organisations|
|Public service Media|
hate speech - Living together on-line"
Reykjavik - Iceland
28-29 May 2009
|European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG)|
|Committee of Ministers texts|
|Parliamentary Assembly texts|
Web site: www.coe.int/media
Strasbourg, 23 October 2009
Abridged meeting report
The Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) held its 11th meeting, chaired by Ms Delia Mucică (Romania), from 20 to 23 October 2009.
Committee of Ministers Declaration: Making gender equality a reality (Madrid, 12 May 2009)
- decided to take full account of the declaration in its future work and, as a first step, to give in its meeting reports participants’ gender distribution figures, which for the present meeting are as follows: 60 participants, of whom 16 (26.7%) are women and 44 (73.3%) are men; it will pursue consideration of the matter on the basis of concrete proposals to be submitted by Ms Elfa Yr Gylfadottir (Iceland) and Karl Jagdis (United Kingdom);
Draft standard-setting instruments
- decided to submit a Draft Declaration on measures to promote the respect of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to the Committee of Ministers for its possible adoption (appendix I); the Draft Declaration refers to more detailed proposals which the Committee of Ministers is invited to note;
Requests for observer status
- decided in favour of requests for observer status, which the Committee of Ministers is invited to approve and amend the relevant terms of reference accordingly, as follows:
European Youth Forum with the CDMC
Permanent Conference of the Mediterranean Audiovisual Operators (COPEAM) with the CDMC
Community Media for Europe (CMFE) with the CDMC and the Committee of Experts on New Media (MC-NM);
European Digital Rights (EDRI) with the Committee of Experts on New Media (MC-NM) and the Ad hoc Advisory Group on Cross-border Internet (MC-S-CI); EDRI should also be invited to attend a forthcoming consultation on neighbouring rights;
Committee of Ministers decisions following the 1st Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and New Communication Services (28 and 29 May 2009, Reykjavik, Iceland)
- welcomed the other decisions adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 21 October 2009 and held an exchange of views on the Secretary General’s suggestion for the Committee of Ministers to designate from among the Deputies, a Thematic Coordinator on Information Society and Internet Governance;
- as regards the commitment of member states to review their national legislation and/or practice on a regular basis to ensure that any impact of anti-terrorism measures on the right of freedom of expression and information is consistent with Council of Europe standards, the CDMC considered this might be a matter for Committee of Ministers follow-up and decided to place this item on the agenda of its next meeting;
Parliamentary Assembly Recommendations
- adopted comments on the PACE Recommendation 1878(2009) on the funding of public service broadcasting and agreed to finalise comments on Recommendations 1882(2009) on the promotion of Internet and online media services appropriate for minors, and 1884(2009) on cultural education: the promotion of cultural knowledge, creativity and intercultural understanding through education by e-mail exchange following the meeting;
- agreed on the lists of experts to submit to the Secretary General for the Ad hoc Advisory Groups on Public Service Media Governance (MC-S-PG) and on Cross-border Internet (MC-S-CI) and, in light of the latest developments within the European Union Council working party on intellectual property (copyright), decided to pursue work on the protection of neighbouring rights of broadcasting organisations, in the first place by identifying and proposing a list of experts for the competent Ad hoc Advisory Group (MC-S-NR);
- approved a preliminary list of issues to be addressed by these groups as well as by the Committee of Experts on New Media (MC-NM);
Working methods / Architecture for multistakeholder participation
- noted the Committee of Ministers support (decision of 21 October 2009) for multistakeholder participation and decided to continue to explore this issue on the basis of concrete proposals and a road map, to be prepared by the CDMC members that organised a hearing on the subject; it further agreed on the desirability to broaden observers’ participation in its work and to hold hearing or consultations during its meetings, the first on the public value test and market impact assessment of new services which public service media propose to offer;
- re-elected Delia Mucică (Romania) as its Chairperson and Andris Mellakauls (Latvia) as its Vice-Chairperson, as well as Garegin Chugaszyan (Armenia) and Luís Santos Ferro (Portugal) as Bureau members; it elected Maja Rakovic (Serbia) to the Bureau, resulting in a three women / four men gender distribution. The CDMC warmly thanked the outgoing Bureau member, Mr Frédéric Riehl (Switzerland), for his ongoing contribution to the CDMC’s work and highly productive two terms in the Bureau.
- welcomed the finalisation of the revision of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT), of the agreement reached on the draft text of the second amending protocol to the ECTT and related documents and took note of the expected developments on the subject; held an exchange with the Parties to the European Convention on the Legal Protection of Services based on, or consisting of, Conditional Access (ECCA); it also took note of information concerning the second edition of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) (Geneva, 14 and 15 September 2009), of the written contribution by, and expected participation of, the Council of Europe to the 2009 Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and of other information relevant to CDMC work.
on measures to promote the respect of Article 10 of the
European Convention on Human Rights
Freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media are indispensable for genuine democracy and democratic processes. When those freedoms are not upheld, accountability is likely to be undermined and the rule of law can also be compromised. All Council of Europe member states have undertaken to secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information, in accordance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The enforcement machinery provided for in the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the European Court of Human Rights, operates in relation to alleged violations of Article 10 brought before the Court after exhaustion of domestic remedies. This machinery, together with the execution procedure, has achieved considerable results and continues to contribute to improve respect for the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information.
In addition to redress for violations, other means for the protection and promotion of freedom of expression and information and of freedom of the media are essential components of any strategy to strengthen democracy. The Council of Europe has adopted a significant body of standards in this area which give guidance to member States. It is important to strengthen the implementation of those standards in the law and practice of member States. The promotion of the respect of all the provisions of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is therefore a priority area for Council of Europe action. It requires the active support, engagement and cooperation of all member states.
Various Council of Europe bodies and institutions are able, within their respective mandates, to contribute to the protection and promotion of freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media. The Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary General and the Commissioner for Human Rights and other bodies are all active in this area. The action taken by other institutions, such as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, as well as civil society organisations, must also be acknowledged and welcomed.
The Committee of Ministers takes note of proposals made by the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) to increase the potential for Council of Europe bodies and institutions to promote, within their respective mandates, respect of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In line with those proposals, the Committee of Ministers invites the Secretary General to make arrangements for improved collection and sharing of information and enhanced coordination between the secretariats of different Council of Europe bodies and institutions, without prejudice to the respective mandates and independence of those bodies and institutions.
The Committee of Ministers reaffirms all member States’ commitment to cooperate with the Council of Europe in ensuring compliance of national law and practice with the relevant standards of the Council of Europe, guided by a spirit of dialogue and cooperation.
The Secretary General is invited to implement these proposals, by putting into place the information collection and coordination arrangements mentioned above.
The Secretary General is further invited to report to the Committee of Ministers and to the Parliamentary Assembly on the implementation of these arrangements and to conduct within three years an evaluation on their functioning and effectiveness.
Proposals for enhancing the means available to the Council of Europe to promote
respect of freedom of expression and media freedoms in the member States
prepared during the consultation meeting on the subject
(to be considered together with the draft Declaration on measures to promote the respect of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights)
Member States’ respect of freedom of expression, media freedoms and access to information (Article 10 ECHR) is crucial for the realisation of the core objectives of the Council of Europe which are to promote and protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law. The CDMC is therefore of the opinion that promoting compliance with Article 10 ECHR should be regarded as a priority area of action for the Council of Europe and benefit from appropriate budgetary resources. Having examined the current situation and existing structures, the CDMC has arrived at the following conclusions and proposals for enhancing the means available to the Council of Europe to promote respect of freedom of expression and media freedoms in the member States:
1. Enhanced information collection: it would be important to designate a dedicated focal point (small unit) within the Secretariat where information about relevant developments would be collected from various sources, including Council of Europe bodies and organs, international organisations as well as civil society and other stakeholders. Such a focal point could also play an important role in sharing such information both with relevant services of the Council of Europe (Private Office of the Secretary General, Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights; secretariats of the Committee of Ministers and of the Parliamentary Assembly, different services of the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs, etc) and with other international organisations, in particular the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.
2. Enhanced coordination: it would be important for the relevant services of the Council of Europe (brought together in a liaison group) to exchange information regularly about any actions initiated, dialogue established and their follow-up. It is understood that this would be without prejudice to the independence of action of any of the bodies or institutions involved. The objective is not coordination in any formal way, but ensuring that, in appropriate cases, at least one organ of the Council of Europe takes up the issue and initiates action and that all actors involved are aware of action being taken. Where applicable and appropriate, exchange of information and coordination should also concern the arrangement and outcome of technical and political follow-up as outlined below. It would be desirable to associate in this liaison group the relevant services of the Council of Europe mentioned in the previous paragraph, for example by designating a contact person in each of the relevant offices and secretariats. Appropriate liaison with the office of the OSCE Representative should be ensured. The liaison group could be asked to provide, as and where appropriate, regular information on issues raised, activities undertaken and good practices identified. This could be done, for example, by the creation of a dedicated website. In addition, annual reports could be prepared for the Secretary General in view of their presentation in his annual statements to the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. As these reports may be a possible source of inspiration for future intergovernmental work they would also be brought to the attention of the CDMC for consideration or possible action within its mandate.
3. Enhanced technical follow-up (expert assistance): it would be important that, whenever a Council of Europe body (whether it be the Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Parliamentary Assembly or the Committee of Ministers) draws a member state’s attention to a specific question of respect of Article 10 ECHR, the Council of Europe has the necessary resources to provide the country with prompt assistance in finding a solution compatible with Council of Europe standards. In order to be effective, such expert assistance should be rapid, sustainable, based on independent expertise, dialogue with the national authorities and stakeholders and sharing of good practice. It could take (a combination of) various forms (expert opinions on draft legislation, policy advice, dialogue/round table meetings between national experts and Council of Europe experts, etc). In accordance with current working methods of the Directorate of Cooperation, it would seem advisable to use a pool of high-level media experts with various specialisations from which a tailor-made selection is made in each case depending on the specific issue at hand. The existing Council of Europe’s cooperation programmes are not sufficiently flexible to ensure funding in all cases. Given the priority of action with regard to issues related to freedom of expression, the CDMC is of the opinion that sufficient funding should be allocated to finance such targeted cooperation activities as much as possible from the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe. In addition, member States should be invited to make voluntary contributions. The Human Rights Trust Fund as well as other sources might also be asked to consider funding possibilities. In any event, funding arrangements should offer adequate flexibility to allow for rapid availability of resources as and when needed.
4. Enhanced political follow-up: in case of reluctance to cooperate with the Council of Europe or if the dialogue does not lead to a satisfactory solution, it will be important for the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe, each within the scope of their competences, to take any further action deemed appropriate.
5. Evaluation: the Secretary General could be invited to present an evaluation on the implementation of the above proposals after a period of three years.
Comments by the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC)
on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1878 (2009) on the funding of public service broadcasting
1. The CDMC warmly welcomes Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1878 (2009) on the Funding of Public Service Broadcasting. The Recommendation is well-timed, coinciding as it does with the revision of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and the recently published European Commission Communication on the Application of State Aid Rules to Public Service Broadcasting.
2. The timing of the Recommendation is particularly apt given the current global financial crisis and recession. In member states where there is either mixed funding or the public service broadcasters rely solely on state subsidies, governments may be tempted to see public service broadcasters as fair game for cuts in their subsidies and indeed, in some member states this has already happened.
3. The CDMC appreciates the Assembly’s reinforcement of the importance of public service broadcasting and the vital role it plays in a democratic society through the maintenance of a plurality of opinion, the provision of unbiased information, educational and cultural content that private broadcasters could not be expected to provide without public funding.
4. Similarly, the CDMC notes the Assembly’s recognition of the need for public service broadcasters to make full use of all the technologies and platforms currently available and those of the future in order to provide high quality programming to the widest audience possible.
5. The Recommendation rightly points out the need for public service broadcasters to provide value for money and for them to be fully accountable to the public they serve.
6. The reference to developments in the EU with regard to public service broadcasting (paragraphs 10 and 11) is a poignant reminder of the essential difference between the two organisations (Council of Europe and European Union). Although not specifically mentioned in the Recommendation, the European Commission Communication on the Application of State Aid Rules to Public Service Broadcasting has, in the drafting process, highlighted the friction between public services and private media and was seen by some as a concerted attempt to weaken the position of public broadcasters and an encroachment on the member states’ right to determine their own media policy. Paragraphs 10 and 11, while tactfully formulated, are, nevertheless, an unambiguous exposition of the problems faced by those Council of Europe member states that are also bound by EU rules.
7. Having regard to the CM Recommendation Rec(2007)3 on the remit of public service media in the information society, the CDMC considers that public value in respect of public service broadcasters or more broadly public media services can only be assessed if they are considered as an integral whole, rather than as discrete and disconnected features of public service. More particularly, public service media cannot be confined to a subsidiary role, characterised by offering services that do not feature highly on the agendas of commercial broadcasters.
8. The assertion in paragraph 12 that “public acceptance of funding public service broadcasting is decreasing” in view of greater content becoming available on other platforms is, perhaps, to overstate the case. It might be truer to say that the public has become more demanding in terms of quality programming and value for money when it comes to paying either indirectly through taxes or directly through licence fees. However, this does not detract from the message of the paragraph in that public service broadcasting is of particular importance in smaller states.
9. Paragraph 16 calling for action by member parliaments is not only a useful reminder of what member states have already subscribed to by way of various instruments but also points out that part of the public service remit may be allocated to commercial broadcasters as is already the practice in some member states. Indeed, commercial organisations may also enjoy the status of being public service broadcasters, as noted in the explanatory memorandum.
10. The CDMC notes the Parliamentary Assembly’s endorsement of the Ministerial Conference (Reykjavik, 28-29 May 2009) Action Plan (paragraph 17) and the invitation to ministers to reaffirm their commitment to it at the national level. The CDMC would, however, draw attention to part 3, which speaks of Europe-wide co-ordination of national policies for public service broadcasting. Neither the Council of Europe nor the CDMC is responsible for co-ordinating national policy and indeed this runs counter to the spirit of paragraph 10 of the Recommendation. The CDMC fully supports international co-operation in the setting of standards but it is the role of the member states themselves to determine national policy.
11. The Action Plan does not foresee the co-ordination of national policies but speaks of the possible elaboration of “a policy document containing guidance for member states on governance approaches for public service media”. (This task is also within the terms of reference of the CDMC Ad hoc Advisory Group on Public Service Media Governance (MC-S-PG). With a view to preparing the work of the latter, a consultation meeting on the matter was held in Strasbourg on 17 and 18 September 2009. One of the main conclusions of the meeting was that governance approaches for public service media should respond to technological and socio-cultural changes; at the same time, principles of openness, transparency and accountability should be fully respected).
12. The Assembly rightly calls on the Committee of Ministers to forward the Recommendation to the institutions it concerns (ministries, regulators and the broadcasters) and it might be assumed that the reference to requesting assistance from the European Audiovisual Observatory (paragraph 18.2) is the follow-up action or future review of developments in the funding of public service broadcasters that is very necessary. The Observatory has recently published a most valuable edition of IRIS Plus “The public service remit and the new media” with much information that directly concerns this Recommendation.
13. Finally, the CDMC considers this Recommendation to be a timely and useful addition to the arsenal of instruments elaborated by the Council of Europe in support of public service broadcasting.
1) Opening of the meeting
2) Adoption of the agenda
3) Decisions of the Committee of Ministers of interest to the work of the CDMC
4) Work programme for the CDMC in 2010 and beyond – Implementation of the decisions taken at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for the Media and New Communication Services (Reykjavik, 28-29 May 2009)
5) Working methods / Architecture for multistakeholder participation
6) Request for observer status
7) Draft instruments or texts for consideration by the CDMC
8) Implementation of Council of Europe standards on media and freedom of expression prepared under the authority of the CDMC
9) Work of CDMC subordinate bodies
10) Light means to promote compliance with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights
11) Internet Governance and implementation of WSIS action lines
12) Standing Committee on Transfrontier Television (T-TT)
13) Information on the work of, and co-operation with, other Council of Europe bodies, of interest to the CDMC
14) Other information of interest to the work of the CDMC
- Presidency of the European Union: on-going and future activities related to Media and Information Society
16) Administrative and budgetary matters
17) Items to be included on the agenda of the 12th meeting of the CDMC
18) Dates of next meetings
19) Other business
20) Abridged report