Media Pluralism [Archived]


Against the background of restructuring of the global and European media industry and technological changes which blur the distinctions between communications and media sectors, the EU is particularly concerned about media pluralism as a cornerstone of democracy.

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Background With the liberalisation of the media, fierce competition for market share began in Europe in the 1980s. In December 1992, the Commission issued a Green Paper on pluralism and media concentration in the internal market which emphasised that it is primarily up to the Member States to maintain the diversity of the media. The Commission believed there were sufficient means of preventing concentration in the audiovisual sector. It therefore offered three options: no action at EU level, greater transparency of media ownership and harmonisation of national laws on media ownership.

The Commission has begun to apply the EU competition rules to broadcasting organisations and to the supranational multi-media groups. A Directive on media concentration has been requested several times by the European Parliament. In its resolution of 19 September 1996, the Parliament called for "both EU and national support to underpin the values of Public Service Broadcasting, in a time of increasing competition between private, multinational media groups and public broadcasters". The EU's Directive on a common regulatory framework for networks and services in the electronic communications market contains some elements to promote cultural and linguistic diversity as well as media pluralism.

Recent events, such as the collapse of the Kirch Group, are likely to trigger new discussions on media ownership. For an an alysis of the European media landscape, see McKinsey's

'The great European multimedia gamble' (McKinsey Quarterly, 1995 Number 3). Albeit not too recent, it is still relevant.