16th EPRA meeting in Ljubljana

posted on 27 October, 2002   (public)

The 16th meeting of the EPRA took place in Ljubljana on the 24 and 25 of October 2002

Ninety-nine participants from 35 countries participated in the meeting, which was hosted jointly by the Slovenian Broadcasting Council, and the Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Post Agency of the Republic of Slovenia. Forty-four regulatory authorities were represented and were joined by the permanent observers from the Council of Europe and the European Commission.

The plenary session focused on the regulation of public service broadcasting. Professor Dr. Carl-Eugen Eberle, Director of the Legal Department of ZDF, opened the session by providing a short overview on the specific structure of ZDF as a typical German public service broadcaster and on the effectiveness of its TV Council as an important internal supervisory body. Based on the ZDF example, he expressed the view that a common supervision both of public and private broadcasters is neither appropriate nor compatible with the system of internal-structured supervision. Erik Nordahl Svendsen, from the Danish Radio and Television Board, provided a brief overview of regulatory structures and mechanisms with regard to public service broadcasting in most European countries based on survey facilitated by the EPRA members. Both presentations were followed by a lively debate between the participants during which current models of supervising public service broadcasting, the possible need for uniform regulation and a single authority both for private and public broadcasters, the definition of public service remit, and the issue of credibility and impartiality were recurring themes.

Two separate working groups convened simultaneously during the afternoon of the first day. The working group on media concentration opened with a presentation by Marie McGonagle from the National University of Ireland, on the developments and key objectives of media concentration at European level, focusing on the EU and Council of Europe approach. Sigve Gramstad, from the Norwegian Media Ownership Authority provided an overview of media monitoring systems in Europe and identified the key elements of monitoring, e.g. legal basis of monitoring, independence of regulatory authorities. Catharina Nes, from the same authority gave a brief introduction to the Media Register recently launched in Norway. Inge Brakman, from the Dutch Commissariaat voor de Media presented the Dutch media monitoring system. The definition of the market, the right balance between content and ownership, monitoring in the digital age, and the key elements of every monitoring system were subject to a lively discussion.

In the second working group, Emmanuelle Machet, Secretary to the EPRA, addressed the concept and definition of political advertising, the legal status of paid political advertising, and presented various recent examples dealing with the subject in different European countries. The discussion focused mainly on the need for clear definition of political advertising, on practical problems connected with paid political advertising, and on the implications of recent ECHR cases.

On the second day, the European Commission (DG Internal Market and DG Education and Culture) and the Council of Europe (Media Division) reported on their recent activities. Hans-Peter Lehofer from KommAustria presented the broadcasting implications of the EU Directives on electronic communication networks and services. The current debate on the issue of pornography in France and the presentation of video examples of topical violations provided the basis for a practical discussion between members.

The next EPRA meeting will take place on the 8 and 9 of May 2002 in Naples at the invitation of the Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni.