27 November, 2018
This year's MPM edition highlights a general trend of stagnation and even deterioration
On 26 November 2018, the European University Institute's Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) in Florence has released the 2017 edition of the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM), one of the principal measures of the risks to media pluralism in Europe. In 2017, the MPM has examined 28 European Union member states as well as three candidate countries, FYR of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. The results show either general stagnation or deterioration in all of the four major areas encompassed by the MPM: Basic protection, Market plurality, Political independence and Social inclusiveness. The MPM 2017 edition has also confirmed the findings of the previous four rounds of monitoring – showing that no country analysed is free from risks to media pluralism.
Prior to the 2017 implementation, the tool has been tested under three pilot-projects co-funded by the European Union in 2014, 2015 and 2016. These three pilot-test implementations built on the prototype of the MPM that was designed in the 2009 Independent Study on Indicators for Media Pluralism in the Member States – Towards a Risk-Based Approach.
In 2017, the Monitor shows the following results across four key areas of media pluralism:
Basic Protection (the assessment on the fundamental elements of any plural and democratic society, namely the existence and effectiveness of the implementation of regulatory safeguards for freedom of expression and the right to information): 16 countries score low risk, 14 countries score medium risk and one country (Turkey) scores high risk.
Market Plurality (assesses the risks to media pluralism that arise from the level of transparency and concentration of media ownership, commercial and owner influence over editorial content, and from the economic conditions in which media operate): the vast majority of the countries under consideration score a medium risk (23 countries). Two countries score low risk (France and Germany) and six countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Poland) score high risk (compared to only three in 2016).
Political Independence (indicators that evaluate the extent of politicisation of the media system, media organisations, newsrooms, media reporting and the public service media): a vast majority of the countries examined score a medium risk (18), nine are at low risk (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, and United Kingdom), and four are found to be at high risk from political interference with media: Turkey, and three EU member states - Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.
Social Inclusiveness (the assessment of media literacy and access to media by various social and cultural groups, such as minorities, local/regional communities, people with disabilities and women): two thirds of the countries (21) are in the medium risk band, six of them score high risk (Bulgaria, Cyprus, FYR of Macedonia, Greece, Luxembourg, and Turkey) and four countries are in the low risk band - Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
The following key findings of the MPM 2017 edition are noteworthy:
Journalists and other media actors are facing a series of threats and attacks (physical and digital) in several European countries. Furthermore, their working conditions are deteriorating, exposing them to external and undue pressures in their professional work in most of the countries examined. Whistleblower protection (a theme newly highlighted in 2017) is still weak across Europe. The need of a harmonization at EU level of basic rules is stressed.
Media ownership concentration remains one of the most significant risks to media pluralism, scoring this year an average of 66% and is seen as creating barriers to diversity of information and viewpoints. The lack of transparency regarding media ownership is another risk.
News organisations continue to be vulnerable to political interference, especially when economic conditions are unstable and editorial autonomy continues to be a vulnerable indicator.
A lack of political independence of public service media, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, remains a matter of concern. Moreover, some recent developments (e.g. in Bulgaria and Croatia) in this area suggest even a deterioration in the trend.
Lack of gender equality in managerial and content creation roles in European media organisations represents one of the highest risk scores recorded by the Monitor. Women are underrepresented in both managerial and content creation roles in European media organisations.
Little or no progress has been registered with regard to media literacy across the EU with more than 24 of the examined countries having either underdeveloped media literacy policies or no media literacy policy at all.
Methodology - The MPM assesses the risks for media pluralism based on a set of twenty indicators covering four different areas: Basic Protection, Market Plurality, Political Independence and Social Inclusiveness. The indicators cover legal, economic and socio-political questions. The MPM covers a broad notion of media pluralism that encompasses political, cultural, geographical, structural and content related dimensions. All types of media are covered: public service, commercial and community media. Moreover, the monitor recognises that different policies and regulatory approaches may apply to different types of media. National experts, composing the MPM network of local teams, provide the data to assess the levels of risk at country level, draft the country reports, while the CMPF supervises and guarantees quality and consistency of the data collection and assesses the levels of risk.
Source: Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom