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Strasbourg, 2 November 2011






    Draft Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to the member states on public service media governance



Freedom of expression and the right to seek and receive information are fundamental for the functioning of a genuine democracy. As stated in the Committee of Ministers Declaration on public service media governance adopted on this same date, media is the most important tool for freedom of expression in the public sphere, enabling people to exercise the right to seek and receive information.

Public Service Media play a specific role with regard to the respect of this right and the provision of a varied and high-quality content, contributing to the reinforcement of democracy and social cohesion, and promoting intercultural dialogue and understanding.

Public Service Media need to operate and evolve within a sustainable governance framework which secures both the necessary editorial independence and public accountability. In the abovementioned Declaration, the Committee of Ministers alerts to the risks to pluralism and diversity in the media and, in consequence, for democratic debate and engagement, if the current model which includes public service, commercial and community media is not preserved.

The transitions from state to public service and from broadcasting to public service media have yet to be successfully completed in many Council of Europe member states. Rethinking and reconstructing their governance systems will be a decisive factor in public service media organisations ability to address this and other challenges they are confronted with.

The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe, recommends that member states further strengthen and, where necessary, enhance the appropriate legal and financial environment, including the external governance arrangements for Public Service Media organisations, by drawing inspiration from the appended guiding principles, thereby guaranteeing the independence and sustainable development of Public Service Media and empowering them to take up the challenges of technological progress and editorial competition, in particular by:

- including, where they have not already done so, provisions in their legislation/regulations for the remit of Public Service Media, particularly with regard to the new communication services, thereby enabling Public Service Media to make full use of their potential and, especially promote broader democratic, social and cultural participation, inter alia, with the help of new interactive technologies;

- encouraging Public Service Media and providing them with the necessary resources and tools to review and develop their internal governance arrangements, regardless of where they stand in the transformation into fully fledged Public Service Media, by drawing inspiration from the appended guiding principles;

- encouraging Public Service Media to co-operate actively on a pan-European scale and to exchange ideas on best practice and best content, in order to create a vibrant European public sphere and foster democratic citizenship within the wider Europe;

- ensuring wide distribution of the specifically designed appended guiding principles, to the public authorities in order to allow Public Service Media to reinforce their essential position in the media system and improve their functioning in the digital environment in order to fulfil their democratic mission;

- encouraging the public authorities to support and promote the implementation of these guiding principles.

Guiding principles for Public Service Media governance

This approach is set out in figure 1 below:


Tier 1: Structures

Tier 2: Management

Tier 3: Culture

High-level view of the model

The first tier is concerned with the formal structures and processes that, between them, make the essential features of the governance framework:

a. the steps taken to secure independence – the primary goal of any Public Service Media governance framework, since without independence the Public Service Media cannot be guaranteed to operate effectively or deliver against its wide set of public purposes and maintain its focus as purely to serve the public interest;

1 By referring to Public Service Media in these guiding principles is reflected the fact that, for all public service broadcasters, the transition to a more diverse range of content and services is both inevitable and welcome, even if it happens at different speeds, and responds to different opportunities in different countries. By adopting Public Service Media as its generic term, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has recognised the need for public service broadcasters to embrace these changes: the focus of the guiding principles is in helping such institutions embrace the need for change to deliver on these new goals. The term Public Service Media is therefore used throughout these guiding principles.

2 See Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec (2003) 3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making