The Council of Europe and the EBU have re-asserted the important role that public service media play in supporting strong democracies at their joint conference ‘Public service media for Democracy’.
More than 200 delegates joined the conference, hosted online and in person by LRT at the Lithuanian Parliament in Vilnius.
Freedom of expression and information is one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. Yet we have seen the independence of the media being increasingly eroded across the continent in recent years and the safety of journalists coming under threat.
The global pandemic and a war in Europe have demonstrated yet again the importance of access to trusted news and information. But public service media’s sustainability and independence is being challenged in a growing number of European countries.
The conference’s conclusions offer a way forward that highlights the support and actions needed for public service media to play their crucial role in European democracies.
Noel Curran, Director General of the European Broadcasting Union, said: “Media freedom and sustainable public service media have been high on the agenda of the Council of Europe for many years. The Standards they developed have been fundamental for setting the framework for public broadcasters in many countries and we are grateful for their ongoing collaboration.
“For public service media to thrive, we need a commitment from member states on media freedom, especially online, and we count on the Council of Europe to continue its vital work to protect democracy and the rule of law. Afterall, democracies need strong public service media to foster free and open public debate.”
Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė, Director General of LRT, added: “I am delighted that LRT has the opportunity to help lead discussions on how we make Europe's public service broadcasters more resilient to political pressures, market challenges and increasing hostility towards the media. It is also an opportunity to talk about national commitments to public service broadcasters, best practices in governance and transparency.”
Patrick Penninckx, Head of Information Society Department, Council of Europe, said: “For public service media to enjoy more trust from the public, states need to incorporate basic conditions of independence, sustainability, governance and remit in their regulatory frameworks, and implement them in practice.”
The next steps will be to build upon the strong collaboration from this event, with the aim to develop a platform for regular dialogue involving public service media, national authorities and relevant civil society organisations, including journalists' associations. This dialogue will facilitate the implementation of standards relevant for public service media and foster the exchange of experiences, including at ministerial level.
The conference is available to watch again online.
Download and rewatch the event here (login required)