January 29, 2015
ORIGINS & PROCESS: BY MEDIA PROFESSIONALS OVER the PAST 18 MONTHS
The media are facing dual crises: economic and digital.
A working group of journalists, publishers and other media experts have studied the European media landscape, including many past failures at EU level. The Association of European Journalists, present in many countries, asked Christophe Leclercq to chair this group.
A Draft paper was prepared and circulated in advance of the European Parliament Hearings for Commissioners Designate in September 2014. Then it was discussed at the annual AEJ Congress in October, 20 pages, copy here. Fondation EurActiv hosted the working group and decided to speed up the debate, with the #Media4EU event and “Yellow Overview”.
Typically, each EU mandate takes at least one policy initiative regarding press freedom or pluralism: good. Charlie Hebdo reminded us that it is not a given. How about tackling the economic challenges? Just like any other key EU sector, the Juncker Commission could trigger strategic thinking, not necessarily direct intervention.
ISSUES: HOW CAN EUROPE HELP THE MEDIA SECTOR RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGES?
- Revenues are in free fall, budgets, jobs and titles are being cut across Europe. In Brussels, for example, the number of EU accredited journalists has declined significantly since 2004.
- Technology: sector in transformation, but expensive IT & continuous re-training. Many readers rely on social media & searches. While vibrant, these often do not provide context and balance. Some of it feeds off media coverage anyway, and “sucks” most advertising.
- EU media policy since 2009 has been inconsistent: big subsidies for film, TV & radio, much communication & consultancy spending, but very little for independent media. Some perceive overregulation, state interference.
- A Single Digital Market is necessary as an overall horizontal policy. But it is insufficient to support the diversity of sustainable media. We also need a vertical policy: a strategy for the media sector. A democratic institution such as the EU requires and deserves this.
RECOMMENDATION: DEVELOP AN EU STRATEGY, implemented during 2014-2019
We recommend that the EU and stakeholders urgently review the following 6 Policy Principles along with 6 matching Practical EU Actions. These could be facilitated by establishing a High-Level Group now to advise on EU media policy during the current mandate.
NEXT STEPS: DEBATE, THEN AGREE & ACT !