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Conference “Freedom of Expression and Democracy in the Digital Age -
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CONCENTRATION OF MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND ITS IMPACT ON MEDIA FREEDOM AND PLURALISM
Regional conference for South-East European
and EU accession countries
11-12 June 2004, Bled, Slovenia
Organised by the Council of Europe and
the South-East European Network
for Professionalisation of the Media
The threat of concentrated media ownership to freedom of expression and pluralism was the theme of a conference organised by the Council of Europe and the South-East European Network for Professionalisation of the Media (SEENPM) in Bled, Slovenia, on 11 and 12 June 2004. The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe delivered an opening speech.
The conference brought together public officials, parliamentarians, media professionals and non-governmental organisations from South-Eastern Europe and new EU member countries. The aim was to examine the problems linked to media concentration and to recommend policy changes in the field. The Conference adopted a set of conclusions and recommendations. (more…)
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11-12 June 2004, Bled, Slovenia
The concentration of media ownership, both globally and at the national level, is causing increasing concerns, especially due to its potentially harmful effects on media pluralism, diversity and professional standards in journalism. Concentration of media ownership, and foreign ownership in particular, has become one of the central controversial topics in South-Eastern Europe and EU accession countries as well.
As a result, the issue has been approached, in different ways and from different viewpoints, by a number of institutions such as the International Federation of Journalists and the OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media.
Having in mind the importance of the issue, the Media Division of the Council of Europe and the South-East European Network for Professionalisation of the Media (SEENPM) will organise a regional conference on this topic for public officials, parliamentarians, media professionals and non-governmental organisations from South-Eastern Europe and EU accession countries. All major organisations currently working on the issue as well as media policy researchers with expertise in the field will also be invited to participate. Detailed results of the SEENPM research project on media ownership patterns and their effects on media freedom and pluralism in South-East European and EU accession countries will be presented during the conference.
The overall objective of the conference is to examine the situation in South-East European and EU accession countries with regard to concentration of media ownership and the problems linked to it and to recommend policy changes in the field. More specifically, the conference will:
- discuss problems concerning the development and implementation of regulation related to media ownership concentration at the national, European and global level, with emphasis on South-East European and EU accession countries;
- review media ownership patterns in South-East European and EU accession countries, problems of transparency, and their impact on media pluralism and independence;
- reflect on the role of international organisations, governments and parliaments, media professional organisations and media monitoring organisations in relation to media ownership concentration and its impact on pluralism and independence of the media in South-East European and EU accession countries;
- make recommendations on changes in media policy that may be required at the national and European level;
- encourage co-ordination of the efforts of organisations working on policy, regulation, monitoring and advocacy projects related to media ownership and its impact on media pluralism, diversity and independence.
The conference will take place within the joint framework of the SEENPM project on media ownership and of the Stability Pact Programme in the media field implemented by the Media Division of the Council of Europe.
The funding for the Council of Europe programme is provided by the governments of Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The SEENPM media ownership project is funded by the Open Society Institute, the government of Denmark and the Guardian Foundation.
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Regional conference on concentration of media ownership and its impact on media freedom and pluralism,
the Council of Europe and the South-East European Network for Professionalisation of the Media in Bled (Slovenia) on 11-12 June 2004
The participants, recognising the importance of media pluralism in a democratic society, agree on the following conclusions and recommendations:
1. In view of the democratic, social and cultural significance of the media, merger control and other competition policy instruments are not sufficient in themselves to guarantee media pluralism. Therefore, merger control at the European, as well as national level, should be complemented, where appropriate, with specific measures to protect and promote media pluralism.
2. Policy makers should promote the adoption and effective implementation of specific legislation guaranteeing media pluralism and preventing excessive concentrations of ownership, as foreseen in Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (99) 1 on measures to promote media pluralism. In developing policies, public authorities should seek to prevent any conflict of interest which poses a threat to the independence and plurality of the media.
3. Policy makers should introduce and enforce adequate measures to ensure transparency in the media sector as foreseen in Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (94) 13 on measures to promote media transparency. These measures should be based on the principle of open access by the public to accurate information in order to know who owns and controls the media. These measures should enable the competent authorities to make accurate assessments of the media markets and the impact of concentration of ownership on media pluralism.
4. Specific independent regulatory agencies should be entrusted with the necessary competence to monitor and act against mergers or other concentration operations that threaten media pluralism. These agencies should exchange information and co-operate with other competent authorities in the country, and similar authorities in other countries, within the limits of national and international regulations.
5. Public service broadcasters should contribute to media pluralism by providing a diverse range of quality programmes. Public authorities should guarantee an appropriate legal framework, adequate funding mechanisms and an environment to enable public service broadcasters to independently fulfil their remit.
6. Media organisations should develop media accountability systems in order to strengthen professional values, editorial and journalistic independence and quality journalism. Editorial statutes should be adopted to ensure a separation of business and editorial activities.
7. Associations and trade unions of journalists and media professionals have a key role to play in defining editorial independence and building the framework for social stability in the media.
8. Media companies should be aware of their important role in society and adopt a socially responsible policy, in line with international conventions and core labour standards. This policy should be focussed on developing freedom of expression, training and improving working conditions of media professionals, equally and to the highest level across the region.
9. Public authorities should support and facilitate independent research on the media market, audiences and media concentration in order to have a sound basis for their decisions. Such research should help clarify the impact of national and transnational concentration on media pluralism and diversity of media content.
10. NGOs have an important role to play in raising public awareness, collecting data on media ownership and developing other types of monitoring, as well as to formulate policy proposals to promote media pluralism.
11. In the framework of the stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, the countries of the region should promote media pluralism as a key element for further European integration with the support of the European institutions.
12. The Action Plan and Resolutions to be adopted at the Council of Europe’s 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Kyiv, 10-11 March 2005) should include further measures to promote media pluralism at the European level. The Ministerial Conference should enable consultation with the relevant NGOs in the media field.