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Media Freedom is degrading in the EU

Thursday 13 October 2016, by SIGNIS

Brussels, October, 13th, 2016 (Euractiv). Media freedom and pluralism in several EU countries is degrading, according to a European Parliament report, which focused on seven countries. “A comparative analysis of media freedom and pluralism in the EU Member States“ researched on Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Romania, countries which have shown political pluralism at high risk, accompanied by heavy state interference in the media, or close economic ties between politics and media.

Already under strain from political and commercial interests, the freedom of the EU’s media is being further undermined by cultural and financial impoverishment. As a result, they are finding it more and more difficult to stick to their role as independent observers, according to the report published by the European Parliament’s committee on civil liberties (LIBE).

Media freedom and pluralism are expressly included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and is essential for democracy and the freedom of expression. A deficit in just one country can have repercussions for the whole of the EU, the report said. If citizens are not able to make an informed decision when electing their representatives in the European Parliament, all the EU institutions, and the decisions they take, are the poorer for it.

For the purposes of this study, the concept of pluralism covers several criteria: diverse shareholders, independence from political and economic pressure, observation of journalistic ethics and professional quality, financial stability, cultural and political diversity of content, geographical diversity and independence from regulatory authorities. None of the member states studied fulfilled all the criteria.

There is no direct correlation between diversified ownership and pluralism on the media market. But rich international owners are sometimes able to resist political pressure and provide diverse content, while financially weaker media split the market between them and seek the support of the political establishment or industry, the report said.

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