The new recommendation adopted today by the Committee of Ministers sets out fifteen procedural and substantive principles which should guide media and communication governance in Council of Europe member states.
Democratic societies are facing a structural transformation of the public sphere, leading to a modernisation of media and communication governance, both for states and for media actors. This process should cover both media and platforms to ensure a level playing field and an appropriate degree of protection against undue interference, while clarifying obligations and responsibilities in the spirit of Council of Europe standards and values.
The procedural principles include
- transparency and accountability to enable public scrutiny of state and private sector activities in this field
- openness and inclusiveness to ensure a balanced representation of different groups and interests in society in governance processes
- independence and impartiality to avoid undue influence on policy-making or preferential treatment of powerful groups
- evidence-based and impact-oriented governance to demonstrate the need for intervention and ensure an appropriate response, respecting the roles of different media and communication actors
- agility and flexibility to ensure effective governance
The substantive principles are essential and applicable to all stages of the communication process, namely production, dissemination and use.
For production, these principles are based on
- the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in communication and the guarantee of media freedom, including editorial independence
- the promotion of media pluralism and the safeguarding of the viability of journalism, including broad market access, regulation of competition, adequate funding for professional journalism
- transparency of content production and compliance with content obligations and professional standards
The substantive principles relating to broadcasting require
- ensuring the proper functioning of markets and protecting personal data in the delivery of content
- addressing the risks caused by platforms disseminating illegal content as well as legal but harmful content, including by ensuring moderation of content in line with human rights and measures to mitigate the potential negative effects of disinformation
- mitigating the risks posed by algorithmic selection and prioritisation by improving the transparency and explicability of algorithmic systems and the accountability of actors
Finally, the principles on use involve
- guaranteeing human rights and fundamental freedoms in the use of media and platforms, including ensuring availability, accessibility and affordability of content for all groups of the population, as well as protecting users' privacy from unwarranted interference
- empowering users and promoting responsible use of media and platforms through media literacy initiatives.
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