Motion for a resolution - B7-0092/2009Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on freedom of information in Italy


to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission
pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Lothar Bisky, Rui Tavares, Patrick Le Hyaric, Willy Meyer, Cornelis de Jong, Eva-Britt Svensson, Nikolaos Chountis on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0090/2009

Procedure : 2009/2688(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on freedom of information in Italy

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, which concern freedom of expression and information and pluralism of the media,

–   having regard to the working document of the Commission on pluralism of the information media in the EU Member States (SEC(2007)0032),

–   having regard to the preliminary report on the independent study of indicators of media pluralism drafted by UCL-ICRI for the Commission in April 2009,

–   having regard to its Resolution of 25 September 2008 on concentration and pluralism in the media in the European Union[1],

–   having regard to its Resolution of 22 April 2004 on the risks of violation, in the European Union and especially in Italy, of freedom of expression and information[2],

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the concentration of several media in the hands of a single person contradicts the fundamental principle of freedom of information,

B.  whereas the European Union defends and promotes freedom of expression and information, as provided for by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, where media freedom and pluralism are considered an essential aspect,

C. whereas these freedoms include freedom of opinion and freedom to receive and communicate information without interference or pressure from the authorities,

D. whereas in Italy, particularly in recent months, concern has arisen regarding respect for this right, especially in relation to pressure exerted and legal action brought by the Prime Minister against some of the main Italian newspapers and against some European newspapers,

E.  whereas serious interference and pressure from the Italian governmental authorities have likewise been observed in relation to Italian State television broadcasting, especially intimidation concerning programming,

F.  whereas this pressure and the situation arising from it have caused protests in Italy and Europe from representatives of cultural life, the press and other media, as well as in the political arena, where there have been public appeals against bullying of the media (which received more than 400 000 signatures in Italy and Europe) and led to a mass demonstration by hundreds of thousands of people on 3 October 2009,

G. whereas the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklós Haraszti, sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Italy on 20 September 2009 calling on him to drop the libel suits seeking damages of €3 m from Italian newspapers,

H.  whereas the most recent Italian legislation has not resolved the core of the conflict of interests, as already pointed out in other European Parliament resolutions, which lies in the fact that the Prime Minister still controls the company Mediaset and has political control over the public-service sector in a situation where the level of concentration on the television market is the highest in Europe and the Rai-Mediaset duopoly has almost 90% of the entire TV audience, thereby collecting 96.8% of advertising revenue,

I.   whereas Italy is ranked 73rd in the report on press freedom issued by Freedom House and is for the first time designated as being a country where the press is only 'partially free',

J.   whereas the Council has a tool by means of which a Member State can be warned for breaches of human rights,

K. whereas, despite repeated calls from the European Parliament, the Commission did not make any provision for protecting pluralism of information in the framework of the revision of the 'TV without Frontiers' Directive, committing itself instead to a specific three-step procedure in this field whereby it would draft a working document (adopted in 2007), devise indicators to define the state of pluralism (as established by an independent study finished in July 2009) and issue a draft communication concerning these indicators (scheduled only for 2010),

L.  having regard to the repeated calls of the European Parliament to the Commission in various resolutions to take action to protect pluralism, to issue an urgent communication on safeguarding media pluralism in the Member States and to complete the regulatory framework as a matter of urgency by submitting a proposal for a directive on this issue,

1.  Deplores the pressure and intimidation brought to bear on Italian and European newspapers by Italian governmental authorities, endorses the request of the OSCE Representative to the Italian authorities to halt these actions immediately and considers any interference in freedom of information with the aim of manipulating State broadcasting to be an abuse;

2.  Considers it necessary to address the anomaly represented by the specific conflict of interests between political power, economic and media power and concentration of control, whether direct or indirect, of State and private information media;

3.  Considers that the Italian example has consequences far beyond Italy and that a lack of a European response would threaten one of the foundations of democracy and weaken any European condemnation of censorship or press intimidation in external relations;

4.  Calls on the Italian authorities and the EU to strictly respect the principle of freedom to receive and communicate information without interference by the State authorities as well as pluralism of information; reminds the Italian Government and Parliament that this constitutes an essential element of democracy;

5.  Reaffirms in this context that the legislative framework of the European Union in the field of information media still remains fragmented and that it is therefore urgent that the EU use its powers with regard to the audiovisual media, competition, telecommunications, State aid, public-service obligations and the fundamental rights of citizens in order to define at least the key minimum standards which the Member States are expected to respect with the aim of ensuring, safeguarding and promoting freedom of information as well as an appropriate level of pluralism;

6.  Urges the Commission to put forward a proposal on media concentration and the protection of pluralism, as requested several times by the European Parliament, including support to, and independence of, public-service media;

7.  Calls for the creation of a European Observatory on pluralism of the media and of the press in the EU;

8.  Requests its appropriate committee to follow up this issue;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Council of Europe as well as to the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.