Building strong connections between researchers and regulators for an effective and sustainable regulation
The European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) and the Comms Policy Collaborative (CPC) in the Department of Communications at the University of Vienna, launched their new partnership initiative at the end of 2021.
The initiative, the first of its kind for both EPRA and the newly-established CPC, started as a means to bolster the capacities of both parties, and build closer connections between research and policy-making stakeholders, for more inclusive and sustainable media governance.
Since then, both parties have already been able to reap the first benefits from their partnership initiative, which focused as a first step on two key themes in the EPRA Work Programme for 2022, namely “protecting and empowering children and youth” and “media regulatory authorities in a digital environment”.
The resumption of in-person EPRA meetings after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic was a welcome opportunity to showcase the partnership to the 55 media regulatory authorities who are part of the EPRA network.
During the 55th EPRA meeting in Antwerp on 11-13 May 2022, Jörg Matthes, Professor of communication science at the Department of Communication, University of Vienna, contributed to the thematic Plenary session on “Minors and Advertising” with a presentation on "Researching the Exposure of Minors to Unhealthy Foods and its Effects".
Jörg Matthes’ presentation illustrated the crucial importance that research findings can have on policy orientation: research revealed that policy-makers and regulators need to take into account the fact that HFSS foods and beverages have an advantage over healthy food regardless of age. Implementing marketing restrictions over such products or simply placing ads for healthy food instead may not be enough, thus pervasive strategies are key to overcoming this.
Krisztina Rozgonyi, Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication of the University of Vienna, held a setting-the-scene speech entitled "Regulators of the digital: Mapping out challenges and expectations for media regulators", for the thematic session on "Media NRAs in a digital environment" which took place on 13 May.
Krisztina Rozgonyi highlighted that while there are great expectations towards regulators to become better, faster, more adaptive and flexible but also resilient and change, media NRAs should “preserve their ethics and keep in mind that their primary objective is to protect the users and viewers of the services under their responsibility to stand as the ‘regulators of competence and trust’ in a non-trustable communication environment”.
Ľuboš Kukliš, EPRA Chairperson
"This project enables an intense exchange of expertise, information and practices between European media regulators and researchers from one of the most renowned academic institutions. In the fast-changing digital environment, both of us can be most useful if we work together. I am happy that our initiative is already showing promising practical ways of doing it. "
Maria Donde, EPRA Senior Vice-Chairperson
“EPRA members know that we will only be trusted and perceived as independent if our regulatory and policy activities are evidence-based. Working in close cooperation with such a well-respected academic institution means we can access a much wider and more relevant set of evidence for our work. And perhaps more importantly, it’s becoming clear that the team at Vienna University are also able to add enormous value by intelligently analysing and contextualising their research for our purposes. The potential for better informed, higher quality work is huge”.
NEXT STEPS: In the autumn the partnership initiatives will focus on “disinformation, misinformation, pluralism and trust”.
Source: EPRA Secretariat and the CPC