High Level Group reports on Media Pluralism

posted on 23 January, 2013   (public)

On 21 January 2013, the High Level Group on Media Freedom on Pluralism convened by the European Commission delivered a 51 page report entitled A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy.

On the basis of hearings and the analysis of recent research and studies on media pluralism (listed in Annex A), the High level group delivered its findings and drew up 30 policy recommendations. The report is structured in five parts:

  • Why media freedom and pluralism matter
  • The role of the European Union
  • The changing media landscape
  • Protection of journalistic freedom
  • Media Pluralism.

The HLG recognises that a free and pluralistic media is crucial for European democracy. But there are currently a number of challenges which can potentially restrict journalistic freedom or reduce pluralism, whether through political influence, undue commercial pressures, the changing media landscape with new business models, or the rise of the new media.

The HLG acknowledges that the main responsibility for maintaining media freedom and pluralism lies with the Member States, however the group argues for an extention of the EU competence justified by the link between media freedom and pluralism and EU democracy.

The group also advocates for further harmonisation of EU legislation with minimum harmonisation rules covering cross-border media activities.

On the subject of media regulatory authorities, the report states that:

  • "A network of national audio-visual regulatory authorities should be created, on the model of the one created by the electronic communications framework. It would help in sharing common good practices and set quality standards. All regulators should be independent, with appointments being made in a transparent manner, with all appropriate checks and balances." (Recommendation 6, p.22)

The High level group was created by the European Commission on 11 October 2011 in order to draw up a report on the respect, protection, support and promotion of media freedom and pluralism in Europe. The group was chaired by Prof. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga (former President of Latvia) and is composed of Prof. Herta Däubler-Gmelin (former Minister of Justice of Germany), Prof. Luís Miguel Poiares Pessoa Maduro (European University Institute and former Advocate-General at the European Court of Justice) and Ben Hammersley, (digital pioneer & Editor at Large of a technology magazine). Though the group was convened by Neelie Kroes, its members have drawn up the recommendations independently.

Source: Website of the DG INFSO, task force on Coordination of Media Affairs