Written by Alina Dobreva,
Contemporary democracies cannot function without the media. Therefore, guarantees for a free and pluralistic media are essential to the legitimacy of our political systems. Monitoring the risks to media pluralism was the central topic of an EPRS-EUI workshop, which took place on 21 June in Brussels.
In her opening speech, Mairead McGuinness, Vice-president of the European Parliament, emphasised the crucial role of media in a vibrant democracy, but also outlined some new challenges, for example the multiplicity of professional roles a journalist needs to cover today. Ms McGuinness also pointed out that, although today we have more information than ever, we often lack the time and the sufficient level of media literacy for a proper analysis. Everyone, but especially children, needs to be taught to look beyond the headlines and to explore different sources of information. She endorsed the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) as a source of high quality information, gathered scientifically, and providing an opportunity for policy makers to reflect and take action if appropriate, as well as for citizens and the media industry.
The MPM is currently applied in all Member States and two candidate countries (Montenegro and Turkey), after its two partial pilot applications in 2014 and 2015. The monitor covers risks to media pluralism in the field of basic legal provisions, economic and political risks, and social inclusiveness. The latest MPM results, presented by Elda Brogi from the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), show that the highest risks to media pluralism across Europe are related to media market concentration, and in some countries to a lack of transparency in media ownership. Although not perfect, the legal provisions related to media pluralism across EU demonstrate little or no risk to jeopardising media pluralism. However, their imperfect application sometimes leads to medium risk related to political independence. State advertising appears as a significant problem in Central and Eastern Europe.
Watch all 7 videos from the event on our EPRS Events YouTube playlist.
The MPM aims at reflecting the growing importance of internet and media literacy by boosting the relevant indicators. The need to fully understand the changes in media use and to link supply and demand for media pluralism was emphasized by Beata Klimkiewicz from the Jagellonian University. Pierluigi Parcu, director of the CMPF, emphasised the efforts underway to further develop the MPM to reflect the new challenges and changes in media, due to the importance of internet. Alina Dobreva of EPRS emphasised the advantage of the MPM as a comprehensive monitoring mechanism, and also encouraged its further development to reflect the challenges of media ownership and consumption beyond national borders and national media systems.
Gabriele Bertolli from DG CONNECT at the European Commission outlined efforts to support media freedom and pluralism initiatives within the Commission’s competence, in particular projects receiving finding by the EU, such as the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Index on censorship, International Press Institute and of course the MPM. Mr Bertolli emphasised that monitoring cannot replace action by the EU, and especially by Member States. However, monitoring helps to create a community of experts, international and inter-institutional links, and encourages exchange of best practices.