Commission announces support for media-literacy mission

The European Charter for Media Literacy, set up to help citizens play a full role in 21st-century European culture, democracy and social life has been endorsed by the Commission.

Speaking at a press conference on 28 September 2006, the charter steering group representatives, with Commission DG INFSO head of unit Aviva Silver also in attendance, reiterated their belief that “reading and writing are no longer enough to achieve the internationally agreed literacy objectives…European nations think that they have literacy levels of well over 90% in their populations, though their definitions of “literacy” are still based on 19th century concepts.”

According to the charter, to play a full role in 21st century European culture, democracy and social life, European citizens need a broader portfolio of literacy skills, such as:

  • Accessing a wide range of content across television, internet, film, press and radio;
  • choosing their media consumption;
  • challenging biased or offensive media representations, and;
  • taking full advantage of increasing opportunities to make and distribute their own messages and ideas. 

The charter website at www.euromedialiteracy.eu has been online since April 2006 and has already collected more than 100 signatories from a wide range of countries, institutions and individuals.

“The aim is to raise the profile of media literacy in Europe and to offer citizens a broader and more empowering vision of what it means to be literate in the 21st century,” said steering group member Cary Bazalgette, of the British Film Institute (BFI). “The charter challenges national governments in Europe to integrate media literacy in their school curricula, and to invest in the necessary training, resources and assessment that will sustain education in the longer term. We are challenging traditional notions of literacy - we are asking for a new educational deal for all Europeans."

The charter was developed from an initiative by the UK Film Council and the British Film Institute by a steering group representing major institutions in a limited number of countries, who have each committed to ensuring their support for an initial three year period (to 2008). They have also committed to promoting the charter within their own nations, and to spreading awareness across Europe. The group members are all people with substantial experience of media literacy provision, development and advocacy, and each plays a facilitating rather than a leadership role.

The steering group nations, institutions and their representatives are:
• AUSTRIA: Ministry of Education, Science and Culture: Susanne Krucsay

• BELGIUM : Conseil de l’education aux medias (CEM): Patrick Verniers

• FRANCE : Centre de liaison de l’enseignement et les médias d’information (CLEMI): Evelyne Bevort
• GERMANY: University of Kassel: Dr Ben Bachmair
• PORTUGAL: CICCOM, University of Algarve: Dr Vítor Reia-Baptista
• SPAIN: Grupo Comunicar: Dr Ignacio Aguaded

• SWEDEN: Swedish Film Institute/Center for Learning, Communication and Media and University of Karlstad: Klås Viklund/Pär Lundgren

• UNITED KINGDOM: BFI: Cary Bazalgette

Europeans, it is estimated, spend around 30 minutes each day reading but 2.3 hours a day watching TV/video/DVD.  Some 70% of all European households with children have a PC, 33% of European households have broadband access, 94% of young Europeans (12-18) are internet users and 95% of the same category (12-18) also have their own mobile phone.

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