BROADCASTERS AND CITIZENS

 

The Conclusions of the Copenhagen Conference of the EUROPEAN ALLIANCE OF LISTENERS’ AND VIEWERS’ ASSOCIATIONS (EURALVA)

8 and 9 October 2007

 

 

 

  1. The conference – which included participants from Western, Central and South-East Europe - recognised that while many commercial broadcasters can provide an alternative source of public information to publicly-owned monopolies, increased competition between commercial broadcasters for advertising and other commercial revenues could also reduce their ability to provide citizen-oriented programming.

 

  1. Therefore, whilst commercial broadcasters must continue to fulfil their public service obligations, it is more essential than ever to ensure that state-aided public service broadcasters in every European country fulfil their potential to contribute to the democratic, social and cultural health of the nation.

 

  1.  To this end, each state must ensure that it puts in place the arrangements for public service broadcasting, which were agreed by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe at its meeting in Prague as long ago as December 1994.

 

  1. In particular, every public service broadcaster must be given:

·         A clear role, mission, remits and responsibilities;

·         Editorial independence against political and economic interference;

·         Secure and sufficient resources for the fulfilment of its functions;

·         Access to new technological developments.

 

  1. The conference recognised that:

·         there are significant differences in the size, role, status and competitive environment of public service broadcasters in each European country; and accordingly,

·         the appropriate duties and responsibilities for public service broadcasters  may vary from country to country; and

·          countries with a history of single-party rule may require a particular balance between commercially and publicly-funded broadcasting, nevertheless,

·          each public service broadcaster should be required to provide, through its programming, a reference point for all members of the public, and to act as a factor for social cohesion and integration of all individuals groups and communities in the polity.

 

  1. Listeners and viewers, who ultimately pay for public service broadcasters by various means, such as a licence fee, state taxation, or via their electricity bill - will all expect value for money. In the face of commercial competition, public service broadcasters must therefore seek in their programmes to maximise their audience reach, as well as to provide public value.

 

  1. Each European country should also seek to establish a circle of trust which links together

 

8. The details by which a nation can establish a circle of trust will naturally vary from country to country. But they might include, among other things,

 

  1. In some countries, organisations representing listeners and viewers may also sit on national regulatory authorities or advisory boards for broadcasters. But when they do so, steps should be taken to ensure that membership of these organisations is open to all, and that they establish adequate arrangements to feed information about their participatory activities back to their members.

 

  1. EURALVA, its member associations, and conference participants, all recognised that they will need to participate actively in three key areas of media regulation in Europe, in order to ensure that:

·         National regulatory authorities for broadcasting-related activities - including co-regulatory and self-regulatory bodies - are specifically required to protect the interests of listeners and viewers, and are  given the appropriate regulatory powers over commercial as well as public service broadcasters by which to achieve this;

·         Each Member State implements the provisions of the new EU Directive on Audiovisual Media Services in a viewer & user-friendly manner; and

·         The national programme of media literacy will adequately equip the ordinary television viewer, or user of audiovisual media services, to

(i)           exercise a right of reply;

(ii)         appreciate the dangers of surreptitious advertising, and unannounced, or inadequately announced product placement, and

(iii)        understand the complex nature of national regulatory arrangements for protecting the interests of television viewers and users of audiovisual media services, including procedures for both co-regulation and self-regulation, both in their own country, and in the other European countries from which they can receive television broadcasts or audiovisual media services.