Survey: citizens unhappy with media coverage of EU

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National media talk too little about EU affairs and people are not well informed about what is happening in Brussels, according to citizens interviewed in an EU-wide poll.

The findings came from the last Eurobarometer Standard survey conducted by TNS between 22 September and 3 November 2007, in a sample consisting of around 1,000 residents per member state. The document, obtained by EURACTIV, had thus far not been published in full by the European Commission.

48% of the interviewees believe that television does not discuss the EU enough, compared to 39% who think it does so sufficiently and 6% who feel that there are too many debates about European affairs on the small screen.

The last survey on the subject, carried out in spring 2006, showed the opposite trend, with a relative majority of EU citizens (50%) considering the information on European affairs to be sufficient in TV news and 35% saying there was too little.

Moreover, information about the EU broadcasted on the radio is now considered to be insufficient by the majority of the respondents (46%), while about one citizen in three (35%) is happy with the amount of news on European affairs contained in radio transmissions.

Regarding the role of the press, criticism is increasingly strong, although still from a minority. 36% of the sample says that there is too little information in newspapers on what is decided in Brussels, but 45% deems there to be enough.

As for the Internet, a clear majority of respondents do not have an opinion about coverage of EU affairs on the Web. 47% do not answer the question related to this relatively new medium, while only 7% of the interviewees did not make up their mind about television. Although the figures show that knowledge of the Net is scarce, 30% of the sample consider the EU information on the Web to be sufficient, while 19% believe there is too little.

The overall mood regarding media coverage of EU affairs being quite dull, it is not surprising that the overwhelming majority of European citizens (78%) tend to say that people in their respective countries are not well informed about EU affairs. Conversely, only 18% of the sample thinks the opposite. 

The sample were also asked to judge the objectivity of the media when they talk about the EU. The clear majority has a positive opinion in this case. 53% consider television to be generally fair in its treatment of EU affairs and 51% feel the same about the radio and the press. For the Internet, the percentage falls to 33%, although this is mainly due to the low level of responses (55% declined to answer the question about Internet objectivity).

The level of general trust in national media remains relatively high, but signs of scepticism are more and more evident. Radio appears to be the most trustworthy, with 60% of the respondents tending to trust it. Television is trusted by 52% of the sample, but the percentage decreases from the previous 58%. The relative majority do not trust the press (49%) or the Internet (35%).

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