Media pluralism in Europe: new study shows risks across the board

According to an independent study by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, there has been a general stagnation or deterioration in terms of risks to media pluralism across all countries covered – the 27 EU Member States plus the UK, Albania, and Turkey. The study, for the first time taking into account the impact of digital developments, looks at physical and digital threats and attacks on journalists, their working conditions but also issues such as market plurality, political independence and social inclusiveness. Vice-President of the Commission for Values and Transparency,Věra Jourová, said: “This study is a wake-up call. We need to better protect journalists and to increase transparency and fairness in the online world, especially in the context of political campaigning. We also need to support the media sector, which has been heavily hit by the COVID-19 crisis, while respecting its independence. The Commission can’t win this fight alone: I rely on Member States to help reverse this trend”. Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “The Media Pluralism Monitor highlights the opportunities brought by digital transformation, which media must seize, but also challenges – from the potential gatekeeping role of online platforms to the digital safety of journalists and media workers. As the coronavirus crisis further accelerates these trends, we will tackle them in a holistic way to foster the recovery of the media ecosystem.” The findings of the study are an important source of information for the first Rule of Law Report, scheduled for September, which will specifically address media pluralism. They will also feed into the European Democracy Action Plan (public consultation ongoing), the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan and the Digital Services Act (public consultation ongoing), all to be presented later this year. The Media Pluralism Monitor is co-funded by the EU, as part of a series of projects to support media pluralism and freedom detailed in this factsheet. In addition, today the Commission has also made available a study on the abusive use of defamation laws (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation – SLAPPs) which threatens the work of journalists. This study and the feedback to be collected on SLAPPs under the public consultation on the European Democracy Action Plan, will help guide the Commission’s action in this area.