Tag: EU media policy

FoE in the EHRLR

EHRLR cover, via ECHR BlogThe current issue of the European Human Rights Law Review ([2009] 3 EHRLR | table of contents (pdf) | hat tip ECHR blog) contains a wonderful piece by my colleague Dr Ewa Komorek entitled “Is Media Pluralism a Human Right? The European Court of Human Rights, the Council of Europe and the Issue of Media Pluralism” [2009] 3 EHRLR 395.

Here is the abstract (with added links):

The need for pluralist media stopped being purely a national concern a long time ago and thus it has for decades been subject to scrutiny by the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. Media pluralism has always come to their agenda as a prerequisite for freedom of expression guarded by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It is important to distinguish the two ‘faces’ of media pluralism: internal (which may also be called content pluralism or diversity) and external (or structural). This article focuses on television broadcasting and argues that while the Court of Human Rights has essentially been successful in safeguarding internal pluralism, the protection of structural pluralism proved more difficult to achieve by means of the Court’s case law. This prompted the Council of Europe to step in and attempt to fill the gap with regulatory proposals. The conclusion is that although there is still a need for a binding ex ante action at the European level aimed at safeguarding pluralism in this ever concentrating sector, the efforts of the Council of Europe and the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are vital for awareness raising and stimulating debate.

In Ewa’s view, therefore, media pluralism should be given a far stronger voice in European debates than it currently enjoys, and one way to achieve this would be to strength its status as a right not only in the Council of Europe but also in the EU. For example, Article 11(2) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that “the freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected”, and Ewa’s compelling analysis of the cognate Article 10 can go a long way towards giving full effect to this provision. But this is not the only interesting piece in the journal. Indeed, this issue is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of fascinating articles: (more…)

European Charter on Freedom of the Press

'Silvio Berlusconi and Mara Carfagna, via New York Times
Jörges hands over the Charter to Reding (Photo: EUobserver)

On 25 May 25 2009, 48 editors-in-chief and leading journalists from 19 countries adopted and signed the European Charter on Freedom of the Press in Hamburg. In ten articles, the Charter formulates principles for the freedom of the press from government interference. Yesterday, the Charter was presented to the EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media (hat tip: European Media Blog; see EU press relase).

From the EUobserver:

European press freedom charter launched

In an effort to counter increasing worries about infringement of press freedom by governments in Europe, both within the EU and beyond, the editor-in-chief of Germany’s weekly Stern magazine [Hans-Ulrich Jörges], together with EU media commissioner Viviane Reding on Tuesday (9 June) celebrated the launch of the European Charter on Freedom of the Press … In March, the Open Society Institute‘s media programme – a pressure group focussing on media freedom in emerging democracies – criticised the European Commission in a report that argued that broadcasting across Europe, particularly in the east but also in Italy, is undergoing a “counter-reformation” – a backsliding towards overt political control after the post-Cold War period, when leaders relaxed their grip on TV and radio. … The European Commission came in for criticism for not holding new EU member states to account after promises concerning media freedom were made ahead of accession. …

The European Charter on Freedom of the Press provides: (more…)

Data retention ironies

I can’t make up my mind whether it’s ironic or not that the European Court of Justice has upheld the Data Retention Directive on Safer Internet Day.

I’ll let Digital Rights Ireland tell the story:

European Court upholds data retention… for the time being

The European Court of Justice has given its decision today in the Irish Government challenge to the Data Retention Directive [Case C-301/06] Ireland v. Parliament and Council (Press Release | Judgment). Unsurprisingly (in light of the Advocate General’s Opinion) it has held that the directive was properly adopted as an internal market measure (by qualified majority voting) rather than as a criminal matter (requiring unanimity). Where does this leave us and our case?

While it’s a pity to see the Directive upheld, the Government’s challenge was a very narrow one, dealing only with the essentially technical matter of the legal basis for the Directive. The Government didn’t raise and the ECJ wasn’t asked to decide on the fundamental rights issues. Indeed it expressly stated:

The Court notes at the outset that the action brought by Ireland relates solely to the choice of legal basis and not to any possible infringement by the directive of fundamental rights resulting from interference with the exercise of the right to privacy.

Consequently, the decision doesn’t affect the core of our challenge to the Directive, which will still go ahead on the basis that it infringes the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. At the moment we’re waiting on a decision from the High Court on our application to refer these issues to the ECJ – we’re confident that when these issues reach the ECJ that they will decide in our favour.


Regulating anonymous blogs?

Fderalist Papers coverAn article by Marcel Berlins in today’s Guardian raises the issue of internet libel, especially by anonymous bloggers:

The web encourages lies and deceit. It’s impossible to know who lurks behind a funny nickname

On the whole, I can’t complain too much about the readers who respond to my column online … [but] I seriously considered suing one commenter for libel; I would have won, and English law, for purposes of libel litigation, allows the real identity behind an online pseudonym to be discovered.

It is that anonymity that’s at the hub of a debate and vote that takes place in the European Parliament tomorrow. An Estonian MEP, Marianne Mikko, is worried that a growing number of blogs are written with “malicious intentions or hidden agendas”. She proposes that bloggers identify themselves and declare any interests they have in the issue they’re writing about. Her concerns should be taken seriously. … We may soon have to consider devising controls on entry, though what form they’ll take is not easy to envisage. It is possible that we will find out, in five or 10 or 20 years, that, in the internet, we have created a monster we cannot tame, whose capacity for doing harm exceeds any good it once brought.

I couldn’t disagree more with Marianne Mikko‘s proposals relating to blogs or with Berlins’ weary acceptance of their inevitably. Unsurprisingly, they have attacted much derision online, especially from blogs politically critical of the EU (see also here from today’s Telegraph online), though there are some rather more balanced assessments as well. For example, European Avenue suggests that Mikko should exercise judgment when reading information; I agree, we should all take responsibility for judging what we read, rather than expecting Mikko’s Big Sister to grade it for quality in advance.

In any event, it is important to be clear on the status of Mikko’s proposal. (more…)