Media ownership and pluralism: regulatory trends and challenges in the European Union Member States Presentation at the 20th EPRA meeting Istanbul October 14-15 2004Deirdre Kevin
This paper will present an overview of findings of the study prepared for the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the “the information of the citizen in the EU: obligations for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed” The research covered media ownership legislation and media landscapes of the 25 EU member states. For more information contact Deirdre Kevin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information • Freedom of Expression is enshrined in the Constitutions and/or legislation of all EU member states • Freedom of Information is enshrined in the Constitutions of all EU member states but an access law has not yet been enacted in Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus
Media Ownership regulation • Competition Policy • Ownership of the press • Audiovisual media ownership regulation • Cross media ownership
Countries where media specific competition policy applies: • United Kingdom: Possibility of intervention by Minister in mergers concerning public interest • Ireland: Attention to market shares of participants in merger and co-operation with Minister for Communications regarding mergers • Germany: In Merger cases normal thresholds lowered to 1/20 and number of thresholds to invoke investigation reduced from two to one (domestic turnover). • Austria: Normal turnover thresholds reduced to1/200 for media enterprises and media services and 1/20 for media support companies. In all other countries normal Competition Rules apply with different levels of co-operation between licensing and competition authorities
Media Ownership: Press • France: Limited by Market share:30%. • Italy: Limited by market share 20% (national) or 50% (regional) • Greece: limited by the number of newspaper titles • Slovenia: limitation of shares. 20% in one, limited to 20% in a second daily publication.
Audiovisual Media Ownership Regulation:Member States with no or limited rules • Denmark, Finland, • Sweden (radio) • Estonia, Lithuania, • Latvia (television) • Poland (no thresholds) • Portugal (television) • Luxembourg (individual limited)
Cross Media Ownership • Limited by sectors: France and Greece • All links between press, radio, TV prohibited: Slovakia • Licensing restrictions for actors with other media interests: Austria, • One license per sector: Malta • Capital/ controlling share restrictions for actors with other media interests: Hungary, Slovenia, Ireland, Cyprus • Relaxation of rules: UK (2003), Netherlands (future plans) (in both cases licensing affected by market shares). • Abolition of rules (press and broadcasting): Italy (2008) • Limited rules: Germany (regional), Belgium (Flanders), Estonia • No restrictions in Spain, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Belgium (Walloon), Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Luxembourg.
Mechanisms and criteria used • a limitation on the number of licenses, or a refusal to grant licenses based on other media assets (as mentioned above) • a restriction on individual ownership (through capital shares or voting shares) which can be held in one broadcasting outlet, or subsequently in a second broadcasting outlet. • Market share measured through readership and audience • Market share measures through advertising or industry revenue • prevention of Dominant Position: market share and/or Media Assets • transparency of media ownership
A typology of systems • Liberal and plural? The Scandinavian Approach • Baltic States –Liberal approach, endangered pluralism? • Central Eastern Europe – different models, the same result • North European approach – with gradual deregulation • Continental Europe and constitutional traditions • Regulation with multi-media empires • No regulation: multi-media empires
Some problematic issues regarding the control of media concentration • True transparency of ownership • Political influence on implementation of regulation • Lack of regulation leading to multi-media empires • Highly regulated systems: after the fact • Importance of foreign media (transfrontier) in smaller national markets • Major differences in market size • Foreign ownership of the media • Political ownership of the media
Recommendations • Reliable data regarding circulation and audience figures in order to determine market shares of media outlets • Greater transparency of media ownership for public as well as relevant authorities • European observatory focusing on media markets and concentration, data-base • Competition Policy (at both national and EU level) should recognise the specific cultural and democratic importance of the media industries • Sector-specific media ownership regulations are necessary. • Monitoring of media concentration part of the remit of the Broadcasting regulatory authorities? • Internal pluralism and programming obligations • Strong, independent and financially secured Public Service Broadcasting • Digital television environment: monitoring of vertical integration • Studies and further research re. pluralism of local media • Content analysis re. Internal pluralism of media