20 March, 2018
States are encouraged to develop strategies for increasing sustainability of media and to support quality journalism, whilst respecting editorial and operational autonomy
On 7 March 2018, the Council of Europe has issued guidelines aimed to promote media pluralism, transparency of media ownership and media literacy. In its Recommendation, the Committee of Ministers endorses a comprehensive framework for creating a pluralist, transparent and participatory media environment, both offline and online.
The guidelines on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership were part of the deliverables assigned to the Committee of experts on Media Pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership (MSI-MED) which was active from 2016 to 2017.
The Recommendation and its 8-page appendix cover many sub-themes and topics relevant to media pluralism and the transparency of media ownership. The range of proposed measures include notably:
Ensuring a regular independent monitoring and evaluation of the state of media pluralism based on a set of objective and transparent criteria
Encouraging initiatives to improve effective exposure of users to the broadest possible diversity of media content online
Recognising the crucial role of independent public service media organisations, protecting their editorial independence and operational autonomy and ensuring stable, sustainable, transparent and adequate funding
Encouraging and supporting the establishment and functioning of minority, regional, local and not-for-profit community media, incl. by providing financial mechanisms to foster their development
Developping strategies and mechanisms to support professional news media and quality independent and investigative journalism; supporting projects relating to journalism education, media research, investigative journalism and innovative approaches to strengthen media pluralism and freedom of expression
Encouraging the development and implementation of a comprehensive media ownership regulatory framework that is adapted to the current state of the media industry and takes full account of the impact of online media on public debate. Suitable methodologies should also be developed and applied for the assessment of media concentration, taking into account the influence of individual media and the aggregated influence of a media outlet/group across sectoral boundaries
Encouraging the development of regulatory frameworks to promote transparency of media ownership: a regime of transparency of media ownership should ensure the public availability and accessibility of accurate, up-to-date data concerning direct and beneficial ownership of the media. This includes the provision of transparency databases and regular reports by national media regulatory authorities or other designated bodies or institutions
Fostering media literacy and education by introducing legislative provisions, or strengthening existing ones that promote media literacy. The creation of a co-ordinated national media literacy network comprising a wide range of stakeholders is identified as a key strategy.
It is also worth highlighting that independent and efficient media regulatory authorities are frequently mentioned in the Recommendation as an important factor for a favourable environment for freedom of expression:
The guidelines stress inter alia that the independence of regulatory authorities should be garanteed notably through open and transparent appointment and dismissal procedures, adequate human and financial resources and autonomous budget allocation. They should be able to carry out their remit in an effective, transparent and accountable manner. They should also have the scope and resources to promote media literacy.
The Committee of experts on Media Pluralism and Transparency of Media Ownership (MSI-MED), was also entrusted to study the gender equality dimensions of media coverage of elections, principles and rules regarding media coverage of elections and the use of Internet in elections, which resulted in the publication of two noteworthy studies: the Study on media coverage of elections with a specific focus on gender equality and a Study on the use of internet in electoral campaigns.
Note that issues pertaining to the coverage of elections and referenda will be high on EPRA's agenda in 2018 with an annual Plenary Session on “The regulation of political communication in the era of social media”.
Source: Council of Europe Website