A Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly conference highlighted that parliaments are a central guarantor of the freedom of the media and of public service media’s (PSM) independence.
Taking place on 6 December, the Conference on “The role of national parliaments in improving independence and pluralism of the media” addressed several key issues affecting the media environment today such as legal standards for media transparency and ownership, and the independence of PSM.
Representing the EBU in a panel discussion on institutional and editorial independence of PSM, Legal Counsel Jenny Weinand pointed out that safeguards for editorial and institutional independence need to be established by law to shield PSM from any undue influence and she made clear that sustainable funding is essential for PSM to be able to play its vital democratic, social and cultural role. She stressed that PSM must be able to offer new, innovative online services in order to remain relevant for all segments of society.
Panel moderator Gvozden Flego, a former Professor of social philosophy at the University of Zagreb, pointed out that the function of media is not solely informative but also “formative” in contributing to public opinion. In this light, PSM have a special responsibility in promoting public interest and the common good by providing reliable and impartial information and high quality content that elevates the level of programming throughout the whole sector.
According to Mr Flego, “'Internetisation' largely changes the ways of collecting information and of composing and disseminating news.” On the one hand, this enhances opportunities for citizens to express their views and participate in public discussions but on the other hand, it leaves the door open to the publication of fake stories that are not verified.
The conference was hosted within the Partnership for Good Governance framework. This partnership is jointly led by the Council of Europe and the European Union and aims to promote and support democratic reforms in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.