This article is part of the European Initiative on Media Pluralism
The European Congress on Media Pluralism, third appointment of the European Initiative for Media Pluralism, took place on Friday 13th may 2011 in the auditorium Enzo Biagi in Bologna, Italy.
The congress, attended by the members of the workgroups created during the last conference held at the European Parliament on 31st march 2011, began with an overview of the pathologies of the media in different EU member states: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, France, UK, and Italy.
The diagnosis has identified a common virus, even if with different degrees of severity in different countries: influence of political power in public broadcasting and generally in the media; conflict of interest between economic and media activities; media concentrations; limited independence of editorial offices from owner.
To synthesise the message of the conference: we need common European solutions to common European problems.
The morning session concluded with a debate on the opportunities for antitrust legislation which would be specific for the media sector, given that antitrust is within the competences of the European Union. This legislation, taking into account the orientations of the Council of Europe, should take into consideration the fundamental role of the media in a functioning democracy in a state of law, which should therefore respect the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the EU. All participants agreed that such a legislative act could be the objective of a Citizens’ Initiative, that is, a legislative proposal to the European Commission by collecting one million signatures of European citizens.
For this end Prof, Roberto Mastroianni (expert on media and law of the Union) expressed his availability to coordinate an international group of experts in the coming months in order to draft a legislative proposal which would be admissible for submitting to the European Commission. Participants at the conference expressed the opinion that legal experts would be required for the initiative, and in particular it was decided to ask ECAS if it would be able to help. Giovanni Melogli expressed his willingness to take part in the group of experts in Brussels in order to facilitate contacts with experts in the European Parliament.
The afternoon of the conference emphasized the importance of achieving two important objectives:
Invite the European Commission to move ahead with its strategy for the defence of Pluralism of the media in the EU, defined as a ‘three stage approach’ and which foresees the monitoring of risks to media pluralism in all member states of the EU. In order to do this the conference underlined the importance of an alliance between the European Parliament, civil society and media (in particular those which are penalized by the current state of affairs) carrying forwards a unitary campaign at the European level in order to put pressure on the European Commission.
Formalize the creation of the European Initiative for Media Pluralism, to which all organisations present in Bologna said they would be willing to adhere, with the objective of carrying forwards the above objective in the interests of European citizens.
- Adhesion to the European Initiative for Media Pluralism on the basis of a formal letter of intent.
- Creation of a website to structure the contents of the initiative and begin to give it visibility
- Search for funding to create a permanent secretariat for the coordination of the activities of the initiative.
- Creation of a working group to draft before September a clear proposal on the competences of the EU which can be targeted in a citizens initiative
- Publication of an open letter co-signed by all participants of the initiative in diverse European newspapers with the objective of launching the initiative and starting to put pressure on the
- European commission to apply the media pluralism monitor.