CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Regional conference on concentration of media ownership and its impact on media freedom and pluralism,
organised by the Council of Europe and the South-East European Network for Professionalisation of the Media in Bled (Slovenia) on 11-12 June 2004
The participants, recognising the importance of media pluralism in a democratic society, agree on the following conclusions and recommendations:
1. In view of the democratic, social and cultural significance of the media, merger control and other competition policy instruments are not sufficient in themselves to guarantee media pluralism. Therefore, merger control at the European, as well as national level, should be complemented, where appropriate, with specific measures to protect and promote media pluralism.
2. Policy makers should promote the adoption and effective implementation of specific legislation guaranteeing media pluralism and preventing excessive concentrations of ownership, as foreseen in Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (99) 1 on measures to promote media pluralism. In developing policies, public authorities should seek to prevent any conflict of interest which poses a threat to the independence and plurality of the media.
3. Policy makers should introduce and enforce adequate measures to ensure transparency in the media sector as foreseen in Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (94) 13 on measures to promote media transparency. These measures should be based on the principle of open access by the public to accurate information in order to know who owns and controls the media. These measures should enable the competent authorities to make accurate assessments of the media markets and the impact of concentration of ownership on media pluralism.
4. Specific independent regulatory agencies should be entrusted with the necessary competence to monitor and act against mergers or other concentration operations that threaten media pluralism. These agencies should exchange information and co-operate with other competent authorities in the country, and similar authorities in other countries, within the limits of national and international regulations.
5. Public service broadcasters should contribute to media pluralism by providing a diverse range of quality programmes. Public authorities should guarantee an appropriate legal framework, adequate funding mechanisms and an environment to enable public service broadcasters to independently fulfil their remit.
6. Media organisations should develop media accountability systems in order to strengthen professional values, editorial and journalistic independence and quality journalism. Editorial statutes should be adopted to ensure a separation of business and editorial activities.
7. Associations and trade unions of journalists and media professionals have a key role to play in defining editorial independence and building the framework for social stability in the media.
8. Media companies should be aware of their important role in society and adopt a socially responsible policy, in line with international conventions and core labour standards. This policy should be focussed on developing freedom of expression, training and improving working conditions of media professionals, equally and to the highest level across the region.
9. Public authorities should support and facilitate independent research on the media market, audiences and media concentration in order to have a sound basis for their decisions. Such research should help clarify the impact of national and transnational concentration on media pluralism and diversity of media content.
10. NGOs have an important role to play in raising public awareness, collecting data on media ownership and developing other types of monitoring, as well as to formulate policy proposals to promote media pluralism.
11. In the framework of the stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, the countries of the region should promote media pluralism as a key element for further European integration with the support of the European institutions.
12. The Action Plan and Resolutions to be adopted at the Council of Europe's 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Kyiv, 10-11 March 2005) should include further measures to promote media pluralism at the European level. The Ministerial Conference should enable consultation with the relevant NGOs in the media field.
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medienhilfe, P.O. Box, CH-8031