17 July, 2014
Independence of NRAs: EPRA highlights Key Developments
A Working Group on the independence of broadcasting regulators convened on the occasion of the 39th EPRA meeting which took place in Budva, Montenegro, on 4-6 June 2014.
The first part of the three-tiered debate focused on the analysis of regulators’ responses to the EU Commission’s Public Consultation on the Independence of NRAs of spring 2013.
The responses confirm that independence is seen as a highly relevant aspect of the efficient functioning of regulators and that lack of independence may have a devastating effect on the freedom and pluralism of the media.
Asked upon the follow-up of the Consultation, Lorena Boix Alonso of DG CONNECT emphasized that while the issue of independence is considered as extremely relevant for the preservation of free and pluralistic media, it is too early to say whether the Commission will go into the legislative option and change the wording of Article 30 of the AVMS Directive.
The work within ERGA, whose establishment is a non-legislative result of the Consultation, may have the capacity to strengthen independence and can help to keep independence high on the policy agenda.
The second part explored the impact of independence on the exercise of regulatory tasks and the active role that regulators can play.
Silvia Grundmann and Lejla Dervišagić presented the Council of Europe initiatives concerning the independence of NRAs including the regional project “Promoting freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in South-East Europe (SEE)” aimed at strengthening the independence of regulators in SEE countries.
Indicators, as defined by the INDIREG study, were stressed as a good tool for measuring independence.
Increasing transparency and the importance of being brave to take difficult decisions in face of opposition were identified by many participants as key ingredients to foster the culture of independence.
In the final part of the debate, Joan Barata Mir of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media reported about the OSCE position and actions in the field of independence, stressing the direct correlation between the need to preserve independence and the freedom of the media.
Participants in the WG agreed that independence is a daily effort.
They also acknowledged that threats to independence are not only present in young democracies; even in long-established democracies there are always at least latent attempts to make sure that doors to control of the media are always open.
The Working Group on the Independence of NRAs will convene once again at the next EPRA meeting in Tbilisi in October 2014 to explore more practice-oriented aspects of independence.
Source: EPRA Secretariat