Steering Committee on

Media and Information Society
(CDMSI)

CDMSI(2012)/Misc9

Non-paper

Elements for discussion
Ministerial Conference on Media and Information Society
(each paragraph is followed by points to explore or develop further)

The Future of Regulation

28/05/12

Freedom of expression and democracy

Freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive and impart information, is essential for everyone’s autonomy, fulfilment and development. This depends on the free flow of diverse information, ideas and debate. It also requires caution when considering any narrowly circumscribed interferences and restraint in policy making. Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, and the numerous guidelines and principles adopted by the Committee of Ministers, provide important responses (standards, frameworks and mechanisms) to help member states protect the freedom and democratic participation of their citizens.

    - key standards, frameworks and mechanisms of protection
    - information and examples of synergy between Arts 10 and 11

From traditional to new media (new paradigms in information dissemination)

As a cornerstone of democracy, independent and pluralistic media are indispensable. However, there is a broader notion of media1 emerging which includes communities of individuals in technology-enabled public spaces who seek to participate in policy making and regulatory processes. This requires a review of the regulation applied to the various actors in the media ecosystem.

    - key media actors and the regulation applied
    - new media actors and the regulation applied
    - communities and the regulation applied

New paradigms in information production and participation

The Internet makes it easier for people to communicate, create and consume content simultaneously. It enables their participation in society. People can now take an active and direct part in scrutinising whatever is in the public interest or matters to them, including whistle-blowing and reporting as ‘citizen journalists’. Like the media, they have the capacity to act as public watchdogs. They are influencing public debate because of the collaborative power of the Internet and ICTs. This promotes a renewed sense of purpose in policy making. This also encourages demonstrations, campaigning, movements and other forms of protest.

    - Internet and ICT forms of production
    - new forms of participation in the public interest and of demonstration (including peaceful but disruptive protest)
    - Expanded power of individuals, groups and communities
    - Added value and relevance of people and communities in the media and democracy landscape
    - the new political marketplace / aggregate vs. mainstream or blockbuster politics

Regulatory tensions/struggles

The regulatory regimes and rationales for media (managing scarce resources; preserving and promoting quality, diversity and pluralism of information and content in the public sphere) are changing because of digital convergence. Television can now be received through the Internet (broadband TV) and the Internet can be viewed through the television (connected TV) and both television and Internet can be accessed via other devices (such as smart phones). Access to these contents and services is increasingly varied as are the service providers and contractual arrangements on offer. The provision of traditional media services has been bundled together with other sources of information which makes choices about the trustworthiness, diversity and value of content more difficult .

Digital convergence extends to media, telecommunications, business transactions and economic activities, security arrangements and many other every-day activities. There is confusion about regulatory regimes because some regulators are coming closer together while new transnational entities, loose multi-stakeholder arrangements, and mandated international and European organisations and institutions claim regulatory authority or engage in policy making. There are also overlapping substantive policy issues to address such as regulation of communication services, media, content and information, privacy, protection of intellectual property, cyber security, net neutrality. Protecting children acquires a different dimension because of convergence.

These convergences lead to confusion in the roles and responsibilities of different actors and to uncertainty in the hierarchy of values and principles to follow which, in turn, can adversely affect human rights and the rule of law.

    - technical capabilities of digital convergence
    - which regimes, regulators, others (IGOs) are mandated
    - regulation, co-regulation and self-regulation
    - how does uncertainty affect human rights and rule of law

The way forward

11. With a view to preserving and promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law, having regard to the Council of Europe’s Internet Governance Strategy 2012-2015, the Ministers might invite the […]:

    - examine and map out the regulatory roles and responsibilities of different actors in public-private networked spaces;

    - explore ways to preserve, strengthen and promote sustainable democratic debate;

    - explore the risks of over-concentration of information in the public sphere and other challenges to pluralism and diversity.

    - consider ways to strengthen public service media.

1 Recommendation CM/Rec(2011)7 on a new notion of media.