Back The independence of public service media through governance

The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new report
The independence of public service media through governance

Download "Governance and independence of public service media" here

Public service media and media freedom are high on the European agenda at present. The European Commission is currently preparing its new Media Freedom Act. The European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, has spotlighted these issues in a conference on The Media Freedom Act and Public Service Media which took place in February this year, and in its latest report: Governance and independence of public service media.

This new report looks at the various aspects of governance of public service media and its role in safeguarding the independence of PSM.

The authors open with a first scene-setting chapter which sketches the history and development of public service broadcasting, taking in the transition to the broader concept of public service media. The different types of public service media and their respective financing models are also examined. Using reports and recommendations from the EBU, this chapter examines the key notions of independence, accountability of PSM and transparency, and sustainability.

Chapter two takes in the European regulatory framework applicable to PSM. The authors zoom in on the Council of Europe’s work in this field, noting the Council’s “Recommendation on Public Service Media Governance” in particular. They also look at recent developments at EU level.

Chapter three takes a country-by-country approach and analyses the governance of public service media in twelve different EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, and Slovenia). In each country profile, the authors describe the structure of the national public service broadcaster and its legal form, its managerial and supervisory structure, the way key appointments are made, the safeguards concerning dismissals and ways in which the independence of the PSM is protected from political interference.

Chapter four focuses on self-regulation and best practices to safeguard independence. Four concrete cases of self-regulation are presented: Spanish public broadcaster RTVE’s self-regulation code for the defense of the rights of minors and its Information Statutes; Germany’s ZDF with its declaration of commitment; the Estonian ERR Code of Good Practices; and the Code of Ethics of the CDJ in French-speaking Belgium.

Chapter five walks the reader through current case law concerning public service media, comparing and contrasting the two different approaches of Strasbourg’s European Court of Human Rights, on the one hand, and the Court of Justice of the European Union on the other.

A sixth state-of-play chapter round off this new IRIS Plus report: a must-read on the governance of public service media in Europe!

The publication is accompanied by a comprehensive overview table on existing safeguards for the independence of PSM with regard to their governance.

Strasbourg 22 March 2022
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