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European Media Policies Revisited: Valuing & Reclaiming Free and Independent Media in Contemporary Democratic Systems (MEDIADEM)
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European Media Policies Revisited: Valuing & Reclaiming Free and Independent Media in Contemporary Democratic Systems (MEDIADEM)


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A definition of pluralism in the media sector. Comparing the results of the European projects with an interdisciplinary approach …

A definition of pluralism in the media sector. Comparing the results of the European projects with an interdisciplinary approach
Evangelia Psychogiopoulou and Federica Casarosa
Florence, 27-28/4/2012.

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  • Media policy has become an increasingly elusive policy field to demarcate. Changes caused by technological convergence (blurring the distinction among industry sectors, and consequently between services provided and the platforms used to deliver them) → market convergence and technical convergence Media policy has been mainly conceived as the policy that aims to shape the conduct of the mass media , essentially press and broadcasting, as media of “public communication” (different from telecommunications policy where telecommunication networks are carriers of “private communication” between individuals). Now the media policy cannot be restraint to mass media and the processes through which communication takes place from one point to many points (possible regulatory convergence between telecommunication and media policy?) The project does not want to provide a new definition of media policy, rather it takes for granted a simpler approach where media policy goes down to its basic element regulation of media systems . The project then narrows down the focus to a distinct media policy domain that specifically seeks to create an enabling environment for the media to perform as agents of information and debate that facilitate the functioning of democracy.
  • One conception of policy formulation sees it as a disinterested process involving neutral problem-solving issues and driven by technological progress thus presenting it as a bureaucratic... . Instead , media policy making is a fundamentally political and conflict-ridden process , that involves competing political and corporate interests that seek to impose particular values and priorities on how the media should be structured and should operate. Also policy implementation that follow the adoption of norms and rules regulating the media, and deal with their application in the broad sense should not be seen as an automatic or unhindered process. Once media policy goals and regulatory instruments has been identified, putting such decisions into practice and ensuring that policy delivers the desired results is not automatic . Instead, rules and regulations introduced could be misapplied or ignored without any intervention of those bodies in charge of monitoring compliance and ensure enforcement (courts).
  • In order to understand the nature and the content of the policy decisions taken, and their logic and rational , the project examines who the policy participants are (actors), what interests they represent, the degree of authority and power they enjoy, the levels at which they operate (venues), and the way in which they negotiate and influence the shaping of media policy decisions (processes). Actors: courts are a trigger for development of professional regulation towards a more inclusive approach (extension for bloggers) Processes: distinction between vertical and horizontal . The former focus on state-based policy-making and its interplay with supra-national and sub-national media policy-making processes. Horizontal arrangements refer to state regulation as well as processes of self-and coregulation, which imply media regulation by state actors, non-state actors and by state and non-state actors respectively. Distinction between collective (above) and single approach (e.g. individualised self-regulation, self-organisation or organisational media governance)
  • Media freedom as a corollary to foe: freedom of expression can also be construed as guaranteeing freedom of the media and hence freedom to provide a private media service as affirmed by ECtHR on Article 10 ECHR. The reasoning embodied in the Court’s rulings is founded on the acceptance of a negative protection duty of ‘non-interference’ . The project does not address media pluralism as such, but a ssumes that the concept of media pluralism encompasses many of the key characteristics of free and independent media, either in its external (diversity of media outlets) and internal (diversity of content) aspects. In particular it acknowledges that regulatory action designed to guarantee diversity of media structures and diversity of content is essential for the establishment and consolidation of a free and independent media environment.
  • Antinomy between state control on the one hand, and dominant economic and political interests on the other is outdated. Independent media should be free from external direction and control, under multifaceted cases. 1. Ownership: Certain types of owner are more likely to take an interventionist stance than others. Partisan bodies, for example, such as political or religious organisations, usually obtain media interests specifically to further their opinions or beliefs. Ownership by the state or major corporations with wide-ranging interests also raises particular concerns about the capacity of the press to perform its “watchdog” function. 2. Finance: sponsorship and advertising; individual subscriptions; donations by charities, corporations or individuals; and state aid. 3. Information gathering: Those who control access to topical information, notably governments and their press officers, exert considerable influence over what the media report and when and how they report it.
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    • 1. European Media Policies Revisited: Valuing &Reclaiming Free and Independent Media inContemporary Democratic Systems(MEDIADEM)A definition of pluralism in the media sector. Comparingthe results of the European projects with aninterdisciplinary approachEvangelia Psychogiopoulou and Federica CasarosaFlorence, 27-28/4/2012
    • 2. Mediadem MEDIADEM is a European research project on media policies for free and independent media.  The project examines the configuration of state media policies that target or conversely constrain the development of free and independent media.  12 EU countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK) and 2 EU candidate countries (Croatia and Turkey).  Analysis across media sectors and various types of media services, including ‘new’ media services.  Domestic socio-political context and external regulatory pressures (EU, Council of Europe). Project duration: April 2010-March 2013
    • 3. The consortium The project is an interdisciplinary effort of 14 institutional partners:  Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgium, Pierre-François Doquir)  Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS, Bulgaria, Daniel Smilov)  Institute for International Relations (IMO, Croatia, Nada Švob-Đokić )  University of Copenhagen (UCPH, Denmark, Henrik Søndergaard )  University of Tartu (UT, Estonia, Halliki Harro-Loit)  University of Jyväskylä (JYU, Finland, Heikki Kuutti)  University of Bielefeld (UNIBI, Germany, Christoph Gusy )  Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP, Greece, Evangelia Psychogiopoulou).  European University Institute (EUI, Italy, Fabrizio Cafaggi)  Hertie School of Governance (HERTIE, Germany/Romania, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi)  School of Communication and Media (SKAMBA, Slovakia, Andrej Skolkay)  University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM, Spain, Susana de la Sierra)  Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV, Turkey, Dilek Kurban)  University of Edinburgh (UEDIN, UK, Rachael Craufurd Smith). The research team includes lawyers, political scientists, experts in media and journalism studies and sociologists.
    • 4. Research questions Questions  How are media policies formulated?  How are media policies implemented?  What factors contribute to the formulation and implementation of media policies?  Do the policies conducted promote free and independent media?  What are ‘free and independent’ media?  What policy processes and regulatory tools can promote free and independent media?
    • 5. Scope of media policy Despite variation in analysis and points of theoretical departure, media policy is generally concerned with the conduct of media systems:  Organisation of the media market  Promotion of particular types of media behaviour MEDIADEM research: interested in the performance of the media as agents of information and debate that facilitate public discourse in a functioning of democracy. From this perspective, media policy is understood as the whole range of policy approaches, strategies and tools that are employed to shape the media in a way that promotes their role as facilitators and carriers of public discourse.  Focus on the media’s role of mediating the public, including on how the media’s role as such is transformed by new technological advancements.  Less concerned with other functions of the media, such as entertainment or private communication.
    • 6. Media policy-making MEDIADEM:  Presumes that media policy-making is not a disinterested process. Rules and norms are not adopted and applied through bureaucratic, technical procedures.  Adopts an institutionalist perspective focused on the contribution of the various policy actors in policy formulation and implementation. Focus on intermediate-level institutions (i.e. policy networks linking economic groups to the state bureaucracy, party structures, corporatist arrangements, etc) and their strategic interactions.  Type of analysis: particularly appropriate given the substantial increase in the number of policy participants, the venues in which decisions are made and the processes through which decisions are taken.
    • 7. Media policy-making Actors: next to governmental bodies and state ministries, independent regulatory authorities, private corporations, media and journalists’ associations, trade unions, civil society organisations working in the field of human rights but also individuals with an interest in the areas and topics dealt with (media professionals, scholars, etc) seek to affect policy.  National and European Courts: judicial decisions can have a substantial influence in supporting or challenging decisions made by policy-makers, as well as in promoting or conversely undermining the implementation and enforcement of particular laws. Venues: State based institutional arrangements (more or less centralised) are supplemented by supranational settings (CoE, EU) affecting the configuration of national media policies. Processes through which media policies are shaped: processes of state regulation, co-regulation and self-regulation.
    • 8. Media freedom and independence Focus of the research: state media policies that target or conversely undermine free and independent media Media freedom: a corollary to foe and the right to seek, receive and impart information  Art. 10 ECHR  Negative duty of non-interference (guarantees against state censorship and control)  Positive duty to create an enabling environment for the exercise of the foe and the right to information Media freedom and pluralism  Art. 11 EU Charter  Overlapping regulatory strategies  Diversity of media outlets and diversity of media content
    • 9. Media freedom and independence Media independence  Private forms of constraint on the media can also be problematic  Ownership (use of media outlets to further specific political, economic or other interests)  Finance (public/private: can create a sense of loyalty to those providing the funding and can affect coverage)  Need for constant access to information (those that possess information or control access to it can exert a significant influence on what is reported, when and in what way) Working definition: Media are independent if they are in a position to meet the normative requirements that they are expected to fulfil in a specific democratic society  in particular, to act as an agent of information and debate that facilitate the functioning of democracy.
    • 10. Work plan Phase 1: State of the art (completed, October 2010)  Collection of background information on the 14 media policies and landscapes under study; the media-related action of the European Union and the Council of Europe.  Reaching a common understanding on key concepts upon which the project is founded (e.g. ‘media policy’, ‘media freedom and independence’). Phase 2: Case-studies (completed, December 2011)  Empirical research in the 14 countries under study:  Investigation of media policy tools and the processes through which the rules are applied, monitored and enforced  State regulation, co-regulation, self-regulation  Traditional media and new media services.  Methodology: desk research (primary & secondary sources) and semi-structured interviews with domestic actors involved in media policy making and implementation.
    • 11. Phase 2: Case-studies Research topics Mapping of policy actors and their values  Is freedom of expression and freedom of information an overarching principle? Structure of the media market  Ownership structures; competition analysis; licensing; financing (through subsidies, public advertising, etc) or other state support tools; public service media (governance/financing): do the policies conducted promote/constrain market entry and the ability of the media outlets to fulfill their purpose? Diversification of media content  Content requirements promoting diversity of views and opinions; impartiality/accuracy, rules countering pressures on media content; access to information legislation; rules imposing constraints on what the media can publish: do the policies conducted allow the media to fulfil their purpose?  Specific attention to courts and independent regulatory authorities. The journalistic profession  Dependencies between journalists and political actors, media owners, supervisors; working conditions; impact of technological developments, journalists’ unionisation and ability to uphold their interests as a distinct professional group; formulation and implementation of self-regulatory norms/uptake of journalistic standards. Media literacy  Does it form a core part of domestic media policies?  Is it linked to freedom of expression/the right to be informed (empowering media citizens to demand/contribute to media freedom)?
    • 12. Work plan Phase 3: Comparative analysis (Ongoing, to be finalised in June 2012)  Cross-state and cross-media comparative report which will explain variable patterns of media policy-making and regulation to the benefit/detriment of media freedom and independence. The analysis will cover the following thematic areas:  The independence of public service media in Europe.  Media policy strategies of the MEDIADEM countries from central and eastern Europe and their implications for media freedom and independence.  Media policy strategies pertaining to new media services and their implications for media freedom and independence.  Journalists’ professional autonomy as a factor supportive of freedom of expression and the right to information.  Domestic and European courts and their contribution to the protection of media freedom.  Report on media freedom and independence: The regulatory quest for legitimacy, effectiveness, quality and enforcement.
    • 13. Work plan Phase 4: Policy development (Ongoing, to be finalised in September 2012)  Formulation of concrete policy recommendations for state and non- state actors involved in media policy-making, the European Union and the Council of Europe for the promotion of free and independent media
    • 14. More information & links Project website: Follow MEDIADEM on twitter:!/MEDIADEM Scientific coordination: Dr Evangelia Psychogiopoulou,
    • 15. Thank you!