The Council of Europe recognises the important role of independent regulatory authorities entrusted with responsibility for regulating the audio-visual sector at national level, as contributors towards fostering a favourable environment for freedom of expression.

Enjoying genuine independence in law and in practice is a prerequisite for these authorities to be able to carry out their remit in an effective, transparent and accountable manner.

The Council of Europe recognises that, to guarantee the existence of a wide range of independent and autonomous media in the audio-visual media sector, it is essential to provide for its adequate regulation. A regulation framework must guarantee freedom of expression whilst at the same time ensuring a balance between this freedom and other legitimate rights and interests. For this purpose, specially appointed national regulatory authorities (NRAs) enjoying genuine independence, guaranteed by law and borne out in practice, have an important role to play.
While recognising that there is a great diversity in the member states with regard to NRAs remit, some of their essential tasks include the granting of broadcasting licences, monitoring of programmes’ compliance with legal obligations, as well as the adoption of code of practices and regulations in the field of pluralism, transparency of media ownership, protection of minors, promotion of social and cultural diversity, combating hate speech, etc. 

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Identifying risks

Despite their important functions, it remains a challenge in many European member states to establish or preserve full independence of regulatory authorities. 

In particular, means of funding of the NRAs and the procedures for appointment of their members have the potential to work both as levers for exerting pressure and as guarantees of independence. 

Promoting standards
Building capacity

Over the past decade, the Council of Europe has promoted these standards through numerous cooperation activities in member states and partner countries with a focus on strengthening media freedom and supporting the independence and efficient functioning of NRAs.

For example, within the Council of Europe and the European Union joint programme “Reinforcing Judicial Expertise on Freedom of Expression and the Media in South-East Europe (JUFREX)”, the representatives of the NRAs of the region, with the support of the Council of Europe, produced a publication on “Media Regulatory Authorities and Hate speech” in June 2017. This publication contains information about significant cases that were dealt with by them and offers a starting point in providing recommendations in combating hate speech in the media.

Moreover, supporting the Tunisian authority for audio-visual communications was also one of the priorities of the Council of Europe cooperation activities in Tunisia in 2015-2017

Developing Cooperation

The Council of Europe regularly participates in the meetings of regional platforms and networks of cooperation between regulatory authorities such as:

Following the decision of the Committee of Ministers on 16 March 2022 the Russian Federation is no longer a member of the Council of Europe. The website will be updated as soon as possible to take account of this development.

"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression"

Art. 10 European Convention on Human Rights


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