Monitoring Media Pluralism - an exercise in futility?
How to ensure a sustainable ecosystem for media in Europe that is financially viable and offers a plurality and diversity of content was at the centre of the debates at the 41st EPRA Meeting which took place in Berne on 14-16 May 2015.
The second Plenary session on 15 May looked at recent and current initiatives aiming to monitor the level of pluralism in the media.
Dr. Marie McGonagle in Berne, picture courtesy of OFCOM, Switzerland©
After a keynote speech by Dr. Marie McGonagle, a panel composed of Elda Brogi from the Florence-based Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom and of Roger Loppacher i Crehuet, Chairman of the Catalan regulator CAC reported on issues of methodology and challenges of ongoing European and national projects to measure pluralism in the media.
A final, full-length version of Dr. Marie McGonagle's background paper, entitled "Monitoring Media Pluralism - an exercise in futility?" is now publicly available.
In her paper, Dr. McGonagle looks at the evolution of methodologies and processes in the array of recent initiatives to monitor media pluralism at the national and European level; she focuses on the main elements of the developing methodologies and processes; and she identifies key principles, practicalities and emerging wisdom.
She highlights that the pursuit of media pluralism is not new but media pluralism as a democratic goal has moved in Europe from a desirable policy pursuit to a positive obligation on States, following from the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and more recently the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
She emphasises that any monitoring will have to take account of the new media platforms as they arise and gain currency not only because of their economic strength, their global reach and their power in relation to sourcing and choice of content but also because the products are qualitatively and editorially different from traditional media.
She stresses that the process itself is as important as the mechanisms and methodologies. Above all, tools need to be realistic and proportionate.
While there is no doubt that the goal of monitoring in order to assess the current level of media pluralism, in an effort to ensure there is a certain level of plurality, is a worthwhile one, monitoring is but one step in tackling a complex web of structures, convergence, integration, consolidation, concentration, fast-paced change, global reach and power, content sourcing and distribution, consumption, and so on.
The measures that can be taken ex post facto when a deficit or problem area is flagged are limited. To be effective in practice, the monitoring will need to be ‘supported’ by other tools ranging from legal and regulatory mechanisms to policy strategies, benchmarking, provision of guidelines, drafting of codes, stimulating, incentivising, dialogue.
"Monitoring Media Pluralism - an exercise in futility?" by Dr. Marie McGonagle (full-length final version of paper)
Source: EPRA Secretariat