Changes in EU member states' media laws that make it easier for governments to interfere in the media should be monitored every year at EU level, says a resolution voted by Parliament on Tuesday. To safeguard media freedom and pluralism, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive should be revised and journalists' working conditions improved, it adds.
Media freedom and pluralism should be monitored in all member states, and the findings published in annual reports followed up by proposals for action,, says the resolution drafted by Renate Weber (ALDE, RO). This should be done by the European Commission, the Fundamental Rights Agency and/or the European University Institute (EUI) Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, it adds.
Protecting journalists from threats
Parliament wants to safeguard journalists' independence from the internal pressures of publishers or owners and the external ones of political or economic lobbies. For editors and journalists, editorial charters or "codes of conduct" are crucial to independence, as they prevent owners, governments or others from interfering with news content, stresses the text.
MEPs urge the EU and its member states to support investigative journalism, as it monitors democracy and uncovers criminal offences. Ethical journalism should also be promoted in the EU, but media regulatory bodies should always be independent and created by the media sector itself, they say.
Revising the Audiovisual Media Services Directive
The scope of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) should be extended to establish minimum standards for protecting the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information, media freedom and pluralism, says the text.
The revised AVMSD should include rules on the transparency of media ownership, media concentration and conflicts of interest. Rules are also needed to govern the provision of political information via all audiovisual media, so as to guarantee fair access to differing political players, opinions and viewpoints, "in particular on the occasion of elections and referendums", MEPs say.
Independence of public media chiefs
Public media chiefs, management boards, media councils and regulatory bodies should be selected on merit and experience, not political and partisan criteria, says Parliament, which calls on member states to establish guarantees to safeguard the independence of these bodies against political influence.
Precarious working conditions
Parliament asks the European Commission to study how the crisis and job precariousness affects the journalistic community, with a view to seeking to remedy their harmful impact on media freedom.
The resolution was adopted by 539 votes to 70, with 78 abstentions.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution