Here below you can find a translation into English of an article from the French daily newspaper Libération following the publication of the report “A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy” prepared by the High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism on Media, chaired by Professor Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, with Professor Herta Däubler‐Gmelin, Professor Luís Miguel Poiares Pessoa Maduro and Ben Hammersley.

The report was presented to the European Commission in mid-January providing a set of recommendations for the respect, protection, support, and promotion of pluralism and freedom of the media in Europe.

 

Media pluralism: experts point the finger at Hungary, France and Italy

A group of experts appointed by the European Commission have analysed media pluralism in Europe. They are concerned over the nomination of France Televisions’ president by the President of the Republic.

On Tuesday (January 22), a group of high-level experts appointed by the European Commission to analyse media pluralism in Europe, have criticised the situation in Hungary, as well as in France and Italy.

The group identified “the extraordinary concentration of tasks and responsibilities within the Hungarian Media Council”, according to group president and former Latvian president, Vaire Vike-Freiberga. The results found are “potential sources that could put pressure on the media and that are as much of a potential danger to the freedom of expression”, she announced to the press, promising to provide a more detailed report before the end of the year.

She proceeded to say that the Hungarian government “would be advised to review their laws and the regulations they have adopted”, so to take in to account the oppositions’ reaction and “to not contravene the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union nor the European concept of freedom of expression”.

She also spoke of the group’s interest in the case concerning the nomination of France Televisions’ president by the French President. “This is clearly a concentration of authority in one man’s hand, but in France, there are other mechanisms to help mitigate this concentration”, she said.

Not a good example for Europe

However, this power given to the French President to nominate “is not a good example for Europe”, she insisted, saying that it is something “that we should not have to see in certain European countries”.

The group were also interested in the situation in Italy “where there was an extremely high concentration of channels and private radio stations in one hand”, underlined Mme Vike-Freiberga, referring to former head of government, Silvio Berlusconi. “The Italian Constitutional Court found that it was an undesirable situation, but that it was politically ignored”, she said.
The group must submit their conclusion between now and the end of the year to the European Commissions’ Head of New Technologies, Neelie Kroes. On Tuesday (January 22), Mme Kroes met with the CEO of Klubradio, Hungary’s only nationwide opposition radio station which lost eight frequencies in 2011.

The expert group initiative, set up by Ms. Kroes, is independent of the infringement proceedings, recently launched by the European Commission against Hungary following their controversial constitutional laws.

 

Article translated by Alexander Twist

 

The article in the original language (“Pluralisme des médias: la Hongrie, la France et l’Italie pointées du doigt”) can be read here

The complete report of the “High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism” is downloadable here