Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Pursuit of profit hurting the media

The pursuit of profit is putting the historic role of the press as the watchdog of democracy at stake, MEPs from all political parties have warned. Measures to protect editorial independence and quality of content are desperately needed in order to prevent interference from owners, shareholders or governments, says a report adopted yesterday in the European Parliament's culture committee.
"The cases of unrestricted ownership concentration or of scarce content pluralism in the media are endangering cultural diversity and freedom of expression not only within national markets but also at European level," said committee chair.
The report is about the safeguarding of democracy. There needs to be a way to assure pluralism of media channels and assure the balance between quantity and quality in the media market. "Unfortunately that's not the case in EU 27 [member states], " she said.
Another key recommendation of the report is the creation of 'editorial charters' to be applied in the same way in all member states to ensure a clear separation between the editorial and business side of media outlets. Such charters would also lay out principles that would aim to prevent interference by governments. A number of Italian MEPs – Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi owns large parts of the media - were particularly concerned about such phenomena.