Media - Freedom of expression and information

 Committee of experts on protection of journalism and safety of journalists (MSI-JO)

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MCM(2000)010

 
 

6th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy

Cracow (Poland), 15-16 June 2000

A media policy for tomorrow

Adopted texts

Declaration

“A media policy for tomorrow”

The Ministers of the States participating in the 6th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy, held in Cracow on 15 and 16 June 2000,

Recalling the commitment of the member States of the Council of Europe to the fundamental principles of pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights;

Stressing the fundamental importance for democracy of freedom of expression and information, the free flow of information and ideas and media freedoms, as enshrined in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the principle of editorial independence;

Stressing the importance of the work done by the Council of Europe during the last 50 years for the promotion of freedom of expression and information and media freedoms at the pan-European level, especially after the democratic changes in Central and Eastern Europe;

Welcoming the activities undertaken by the Council of Europe to promote freedom of expression, in particular the procedures initiated at the political level by the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly to monitor compliance by member States with the commitments which they have undertaken concerning freedom of expression and information;

Reaffirming the crucial role of the Council of Europe in promoting democracy and observance of human rights, in particular by the definition of common principles in the area of media law and policy, in the context of continuing political, cultural, economic and technological changes in the media sector;

Recalling the texts adopted at the 5th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Thessaloniki, December 1997), which have underlined in particular the importance of a media policy which would aim both at taking advantage of opportunities, and preventing risks, which may result from new information and communication technologies;

Agree to enhance the impact of the Council of Europe intergovernmental activities in the media field at the pan-European level, by focusing them on fundamental issues, in line with the texts adopted at the 2nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, as well as the Declaration of the Committee of Ministers on a European policy for new information technologies;

Agree that the human and democratic dimension of communication should be at the core of these activities, focusing around the following four essential axes:

- the balance between freedom of expression and information and other rights and legitimate interests;

- pluralism of media services and content;

- the promotion of social cohesion;

- the adaptation of the regulatory framework for the media in the light of the ongoing changes.

Agree on the following programme of action at the pan-European level.

This programme of action should be implemented by the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) of the Council of Europe: in co-operation with other relevant Council of Europe bodies and in close consultation with the various bodies concerned, in particular with professional media organisations, self-regulatory bodies and regulatory authorities; on the basis of the Council of Europe instruments and standards, bearing in mind developments in other international fora; taking into account the need to avoid unnecessary duplication of work.

* * *

Programme of action

I. Activities relating to the balance between freedom of expression and information and other rights and legitimate interests

The CDMM should:

- step up its work on the balance between freedom of expression and information and the right to privacy;

- complete the work on the disclosure of information and the expression of opinions about political figures and public officials, the disclosure of information in the public interest, as well as media reporting on legal proceedings, so as to define common orientations for the whole of Europe as speedily as possible;

- examine the problems caused by the dissemination of material casting doubt on individuals’ dignity and integrity, even in the traditional media;

- examine the implications of the on-line dissemination of information by individuals or other sources which may not be bound by professional journalistic ethics or codes of conduct.

II. Activities relating to pluralism of services and content

The CDMM should:

- monitor the impact on pluralism of both the development of new communication and information services and the trend towards greater media concentrations, so as to undertake, as appropriate, any initiatives which might prove necessary to safeguard or promote pluralism of content and services;

- examine in this context the importance for pluralism of preserving the diversity of sources of information;

- examine strategies to preserve the principle of cultural diversity, as enshrined in relevant Council of Europe instruments, in view of developments at the international level, and contribute to deliberations aimed at promoting and implementing this principle, at the pan-European and international levels, in a rapidly changing environment;

- monitor the impact on the protection of copyright and neighbouring rights of the development of new communication and information services, so as to take all the steps which might prove necessary to improve the level of this protection, taking into account the need for an adequate balance between such protection and the wide circulation of works and other protected material;

- complete its work on the protection of the neighbouring rights of broadcasting organisations.

III. Activities relating to social cohesion

The CDMM should:

- develop policies and measures enabling the media to promote social cohesion and prevent the threat of social exclusion and divisions posed by the development of the Information Society;

- undertake work on the use of new communications services to promote their widespread adoption and enhance their democratic potential as a means of society-wide exchange of information and opinions;

- promote media education and media literacy in new services with a view to developing a critical and discerning attitude towards media content, as well as ensuring greater awareness by individuals concerning the opportunities offered and challenges posed by these services and thus contributing to greater social cohesion;

- design policies and measures which shall assist member States in the development of public service broadcasting organisations in line with the relevant Council of Europe principles, as set out in the Resolution on the future of public service broadcasting adopted at the 4th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Prague, December 1994), and which might be promoted in other regions and other fora;

- promote an exchange of information and experience between its member States concerning the public service broadcasters’ remit, organisation and funding in the digital age, where appropriate within the framework of a dual broadcasting system, in order to develop orientations for the member States aiming at enabling public service broadcasters to adapt to the challenges raised by the new media environment;

- examine ways of promoting the pluralistic and quality programming of public service broadcasters, strengthening their independence and ensuring an appropriate and secure funding framework in the age of technological convergence and globalisation.

IV. Activities relating to the adaptation of the regulatory framework for the media

The CDMM should:

- monitor and study the development of new communications and information services with a view, as appropriate, to defining common pan-European principles in order to adapt the regulatory framework for the media;

- promote pan-European exchanges of information and experience concerning regulatory, co-regulatory and self-regulatory initiatives taken in member States;

- review the legal and political instruments which it has already produced so as to determine whether, in the light of new information production, processing and dissemination techniques, they should, as appropriate, be revised or supplemented by legal or practical measures;

- promote the adoption of measures intended to limit the harmful effect which the dissemination of certain content on the new communication and information services, such as violent or pornographic content, may have on vulnerable groups, such as minors, in particular by promoting the development and co-ordination of content classification systems, “hotlines” for complaints about harmful content, and codes of conduct by the industry throughout Europe;

- analyse common approaches to raise awareness about user-control mechanisms offering protection against harmful content as well as to educating users towards greater understanding and responsibility in this respect.

In the light of the above programme of action, request the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to:

- make all appropriate arrangements for the implementation by the CDMM of this programme, by allocating it adequate resources;

- continue and step up its co-operation and assistance programmes relating to the media, especially its training and awareness-raising activities for official circles and media professionals, allocating appropriate resources to this.

* * *

Resolution

on the draft European Convention on the Legal Protection of Services
based on, or consisting of, Conditional Access

The Ministers of the States participating in the 6th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy being held in Cracow on 15 and 16 June 2000;

Anxious to promote the development of broadcasting as well as new communication and information services in Europe, in the interest of the free flow of information, ideas and opinions as well as pluralism;

Concerned about the acts of piracy against these services, which undermine their development and accordingly the interests of operators, rights holders and the public, and determined to combat such piracy in an effective manner;

Endorse the draft European Convention on the Legal Protection of Services based on, or consisting of, Conditional Access, as finalised by the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) of the Council of Europe on 14 June 2000;

Request the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to adopt the Convention and open it for signature as soon as possible, and to authorise publication of the Explanatory Report thereto;

Invite all States and the European Community to become Party to the Convention once opened for signature, in order to ensure that it is applied at the widest geographical level and accordingly to combat more effectively the illicit reception of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access.