Euronews is the bimonthly bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists, produced in the Secretariat in Brussels.
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EFJ Conferences for Journalists’ Rights in Europe
The EFJ organised two major conferences during the autumn:
The first meting, on 23-24 September in Bratislava, focused on “empowering freelance rights” by better integrating freelance issues in trade union work, with a particular focus on new EU member states and other Central and Eastern European countries. Participants expressed their concern that “new models or industrial work relations turn the freelance contract into the normal mode of contractual relation”. Unions from Central and Eastern Europe proposed to set up a network for freelance issues.
The second event, in Lisbon on 5-6 November, concerned copyright collecting societies. The final declaration stated that “[j]ournalists are losing remuneration because publishers and producers don’t respect the authors’ rights and block collective licensing in the digital area in order to promote possible future business models. Journalists agree with user groups that licensing through collective agreements and levy schemes can co-exist with new business models based on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and that business models will not in a foreseeable future be able to stand alone.”
See Authors’ Rights section at page 4.
EFJ Develops “Mutual Trust” with Anti-Fraud Services in Europe
On 28 October, a meeting took place for the spokespersons and communication officers of the EU anti-fraud service OLAF, the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators Network (OAFCN) and representatives of journalists’ organisations. Aidan White represented the European Federation of Journalists and Michael Stabenow represented the Press Association in Brussels (API-IPA). Over 60 participants agreed that “sound working relationship between journalists and investigating services, based upon mutual respect and better awareness of professional rights and responsibilities, can strengthen efforts to expose corruption and fraud.”
Italian Journalists Stage Strikes to Defend Rights
Italian journalists have been taking tough industrial action since last summer. Strikes started in early October at the direction of the Italian EFJ affiliate FNSI, which represents newsroom staff in the print and broadcasting sectors. FNSI ordered the stoppages when the employers’ association FIEG refused to continue negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement that would cover all of the media sector. The main points in dispute are the rights of freelance or independent workers and the refusal by employers to adapt the Italian law on short-term contracts (Legge 30) to the media sector.The FNSI expects further strikes in 2006, but that action could be complicated by approach of the general elections in April.
Greek Unions Take Industrial Action over Pay for Journalists
On 23 November, the EFJ supported an all-out 24-hour strike by journalists and media staffers who were demanding job protection and promt repayment of back wages. The Greek unions issued a number of key demands in support of the strike, including protecting jobs and combating unemployment, immediate payment of wages owed to workers, payment of debts by employers to Press Workers’ Social Security Funds, implementation of collective agreements and equality for men and women in insurance and pension rights. The unions also asked for action on media concentration, a plan to defend and strengthen public broadcasting and a more equitable distribution system for government advertising.
Upcoming EFJ Annual Meeting
The EFJ Annual Meeting will take place on 7-9 April 2006 in Bled, Slovenia. It will be the occasion for EFJ representatives to discuss current concerns of journalists in Europe and to define priorities for the coming years. In parallel with the Annual Meeting, a conference on global media and quality journalism will also take place.
Media Concentration Survey Updated
The two existing EFJ surveys on media concentration, which previously the continent into Western Europe and Eastern Europe, were updated, merged and edited in late 2005. The updated survey will be published in January. It will also be available on the IFJ/EFJ website.
French media groups Vivendi Universal, TF1 and M6 announced in December a merger of their satellite television operations, which would create an estimated €7.5 billion company to compete with Internet and mobile telecom services. So far France had two rival satellite platforms, CanalSat owned by Vivendi Universal and TPS, a subsidiary of French terrestrial television channels TF1 and M6. The agreement, to be submitted to the Broadcasting Authority, would give Vivendi control of 85% of the new company.
On 10 January, German media regulators rejected the bid for a merger between the largest newspaper publisher, Axel Springer, and the biggest television broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1. Following a negative opinion of the Antitrust Authority, the Commission on Media Concentration said Springer's plans would have given them “a dominant power over public opinion”. However, according to the management of the two companies, options are still open despite the negative opinions from both regulators.
In Berlin, the Berliner Verlagsgruppe was purchased by the investing company Mecom & VSS, lead by British media businessman David Montgomery. On 25 November, the works council gathering unions and staff representatives of the Berliner Kurier, Tip, the Berliner Adendblatt and the Berliner Zeitung adopted a statement to express concern over future plans of restructuring.
Proposal of Revised Directive on “Television without Frontiers”
After the adoption, on 6 September 2005, of the European Parliament report on the application of Articles 4 and 5 of the TWF directive, the UK Presidency organised a European Audiovisual Conference in Liverpool so that interested organisations could comment on six “issue papers” that dealt with major questions such as independent production, advertisements and pluralism. The EFJ submitted its comments and attended the conference. The meeting was dominated by corporate interests with the majority of participants and speakers coming from the telecommunications, private broadcasting and new media sectors. Following the conference, the Commission issue the proposal for a new directive in December. One of the major changes is the proposal to deregulate advertising and product placement. The EP is not going to work on a report during the first semester of 2006.
In the UK, the debate continues on the content of the White Paper on the future of the BBC. A major conference on this issue, organised by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and the NUJ, will be held on Saturday 28 January in London at the Trade Union House.
Italy is holding a debate on the future of RAI in anticipation of the general elections in April 2006. The ruling coalition wants to change the law about the so-called par condicio law, which gives equal opportunities to political parties for their communication and forbids political advertisement on TV and radio. Political forces are unclear over their intentions to privatise one of the RAI channels.
In Finland, staff at public broadcaster YLE are concerned over a plan by the management to cut up to 200 jobs. After a 10 hour strike in September, the future of the redundant workers is still unclear. The plan was approved by the administrative council of YLE. These are the most drastic layoffs in YLE’s history. The work force was cut by 8 percent from 2000-2005 and the plan is to cut another 12 percent of the workers from 2005-2008.
Polish media organisations and civil society groups criticised the plans of the newly elected “Right and Justice” party to reduce the number of members of the broadcasting council from 10 to 3. This reduction would mean that the current government would have a monopoly over the nomination of the council.
In Romania, unions organised a meeting on 13-14 October with editors, publishers, broadcasters and leading journalists to debate increased government interference in public radio and television, including the removal of staff representatives from the boards of the public networks.
The “Russian CNN”’ was launched on 10 December. A 24-hour, English-language, state-funded television channel was created in Moscow, with offices in London, Washington, Paris and Jerusalem. The channel is supposed to provide “a Russian perspective around the world”.
AUTHORS’ RIGHTS NEWS
EFJ Adopts Lisbon Declaration on Authors’ Rights
The EFJ seminar “Ownership of Authors’ Rights and Collective Management in the European Union-Meeting Journalists Needs” held in Lisbon brought together representatives of 25 EFJ unions.
The seminar objectives were to bring journalists up to date with the latest developments in the field of authors’ rights, to address current concerns over the lack of authors’ rights protection in Europe and to take concrete action to oppose media employers’ constant attempts to grab journalists’ and photographers’ authors rights and impose buy-out contracts.
The meeting concluded with the issuing of a declaration calling on EU institutions to recognise and enforce authors’ rights protection for journalists in all media and opposing any attempt to introduce forced assignment of authors’ rights either in legislation or in employment contracts.
An EFJ study on collecting systems for journalists’ authors’ rights in Europe will be released in February 2006.
Press Release : http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3508&Language=EN
Portraying Politics: Order your toolkit!
Politics is a man’s world. At least that’s the impression we get from television. The media give less airtime to women than to men in politics, and there are differences in the kinds of coverage that women and men receive.
The EU funded “Portraying Politics” project is coordinated by the European Federation of Journalists and includes in its partnership a number of journalism training centers and media organizations (see list on: www.portrayingpolitics.org/partners.php) . The project stresses that fair gender portrayal is a professional necessity for news organizations just as balance, diversity and clarity are. It also shows how paying attention to gender during the production process results in richer and more innovative output, which appeals to a wider audience.
The toolkit will be officially launched at the EFJ annual meeting on 7-9 April in Bled, Slovenia.
For more information on the toolkit, please consult: www.portrayingpolitics.org
EFJ Conducts Survey on Status of Women Journalists in Europe
Accurate data on gender rights in European journalism is essential to demand gender equality. The objectives of the EFJ survey are to analyse the impact of current changes in the European media on women journalists, to recognize advantages for gender rights, to empower women journalists for change and to support the unions in their efforts to achieve gender equality.
The survey follows directions acknowledged in the IFJ Action Plan for Gender Rights adopted at the IFJ 2001 Congress in Seoul. It pursues the objectives of the EFJ-gender seminar on Women Journalists in the European Integration Process” which took place in May 2005 in Cyprus. By establishing an EFJ women journalists´ network seminar, participants agreed to organise a Europe-wide study of the status of women journalists. (http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3096&Language=EN )
Results of the survey will be released at the EFJ annual meeting in Bled, Slovenia.
For more information, please contact Annegret Witt Barthel: AWittB@mac.com
Indian Women Journalists to Visit Europe
In the frame of the EU funded project “Europe-India: Building Paths to Equality in Journalism,” a series of activities are organized to promote cross-cultural co-operation between Europe and India on equality, ethics and non-discrimination in media.
The activities include visits of Indian women journalists to Europe. From 6-12th February, 10 women journalists members of the All India Newspaper Employees Federation and its affiliate the Bangalore Newspaper Employees Union will participate in a tour to Brussels, Berlin and London to get some insight on gender equality strategies within media and unions in Europe. This tour will be coordinated by the EFJ, the DJV in Germany and the NUJ in the UK.
Please consult the web site for further information on the project: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Issue=Gender%20india&Language=EN
EUROPEAN POLICY BRIEFING
The year 2006 has been declared the “European Year of Workers’ Mobility.” The outcome of the vote on the Directive on services in the internal market will be a key issue, which will give rise to a debate and an occasion for the EU to choose between a social or neo-liberal orientation. The revision of the “Television without Frontiers” directive, the finalisation of the communication strategy as well as the digital rights management will be important issues for the EFJ to monitor.
EFJ Delegation Meets EU Commissioner Frattini
On 6 December 2005, a delegation from the EFJ met with Commissioner Franco Frattini, who is in charge of justice, freedom and security. The EFJ aired its concerns about EU policies, including the proposal for a code of conduct for European media, the impact of EU policies on media, the EU decision concerning data retention, the question of racism and the image of immigrants in European media and the debates on the “Rome II” Treaty.
Mr. Frattini told the EFJ that the code of conduct was a matter of self regulation within the profession, and not a procedure that would be imposed by political authorities. He said the EU proposal on data retention clearly said that data should be used only under “strict” conditions, which did not include cases of protection of sources. However, he admitted that there is a risk that the technology put in place would allow this to happen in a national context but that would not be the responsibility of the European Commission.
The EFJ and Mr. Frattini agreed to organise a round-table discussion on the issue of media, civil rights, terrorism, radicalisation and racism in early 2006. Mr. Frattini will make an intervention at IFEX meeting on 20-24 February.
Commission Still Working on a Communication Plan
The Commission announced that the White Paper on Communication would be adopted on 1 February 2006. This white paper will propose building a "European public sphere" in the form of a "European democratic infrastructure", but most important for media, it will launch a consultation process on a "European Charter on Information and Communication", running until the end of June 2006. A progress report in the Paper included a proposal for a European news agency and a European Observatory for public opinion and media trends.
Adoption of Controversial Text on Data Retention
On 13 December, the European Parliament adopted the proposal for a directive on data retention in first reading. The final text, negotiated beforehand between the two major political groups of the EP and with the Council, aims to facilitate “judicial co-operation in criminal matters” by harmonising national legislations on the retention of data processed by telecommunications companies. The directive covers traffic and location data generated by phone, SMS and Internet, but not the content of the information communicated.
The EFJ, together with other press and media groups, lobbied the Parliament to include a clear reference to press freedom and protection of sources in the directive. However, only a general principle concerning “professional secrecy” was accepted. It has to be noted that the rapporteur, Mr. Alexander Nuno ALVARO (ALDE, Germany) was unhappy with the result on the text and withdrew his name as rapporteur.
After being postponed due to disagreement between the different political groups, the EP Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection voted on the amendments to the draft “services” directive. The vote resulted in the exclusion of services of general interest and certain services including the audiovisual services, but temporary agencies are covered by the directive. The country of origin principle still remains in the current version. While the Commission and the Austrian Presidency consider revising the proposal, the EP will vote in the plenary session in February. An ETUC demonstration is planned for 14 February at 1 pm. See: http://www.etuc.org/a/1886 .
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Rome II :
The “Rome II” draft regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is being discussed in the European Council civil affairs committee. Two major concerns remain for the EFJ: the reference in a text to the creation of a “European Media Code” to address infringement to personality rights as well as the position of some member states on the law applicable to infringement of privacy and personality rights. Despite the positive move of the EP in adopting a good compromise for defamation cases, the positions of EU member states clearly favour the interests of the victim of defamation by calling for the application of the law where the damage occurs, or where the victim is established to apply. A German proposal, which does not provide journalists with legal certainty as to which law would apply in case of a defamation law suit, was also put on the table and is being considered by some member states. The next discussion on Rome II in the civil affairs committee will take place on 24-25 January.
The EFJ called on its unions for support and has prepared a model letter for lobbying national governments:
Ministers Remind Belarus Press Freedom Commitment
The Council of Ministers in November called on Belarus to honor its OSCE commitment on freedom of the media. “We also call on Belarus to remove legal and administrative obstacles which hinder the work of independent media and, as a result, the public’s access to it,” it said in a statement.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE (COE)
Several meetings of working groups took place during the autumn, including the groups that monitor diversity in the media, public service broadcasting in the information society, freedom of expression and information in times of crisis and the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Documents from the working groups can be found on the Internet at the following address:
The group on media diversity has looked at the possible effects of media concentration on editorial content. A study by the Centre for Media Policy and Development in the UK will examine the effects of ownership concentration on newspapers and TV news in four European countries. The group on public service broadcasting is looking into the general remit of PSB and has issued a draft report by former head of Danish TV, Christian Nissen
Publications / Websites / Upcoming Meetings
Task-Force for co-ordination of media affairs of the European Commission:
The Open Society Institute’s EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program (EUMAP) officially launched and published its “Survey on television across Europe”: http://www.eumap.org/topics/media.
The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions set up an online European industrial relations dictionary with information on issues such as industrial relations, legal framework, discrimination and equality, health and safety:
The online version of the national glossaries, EMIRE is still available but is not updated: http://www.eurofound.eu.int/emire/emire.html
ETUC Newsletter: http://www.etuc.org/r/800
Writing about refugees in Europe: the Jesuit Refugee Service launched a prize for young journalists, in cooperation with the IFJ, to write about refugees in Europe. More information: http://www.jrseurope.org/competition_journalists.htm
18-19: EFJ Steering Committee meeting, Brussels
6 : FREG meeting, Brussels
19-24: IFEX meeting, Brussels
13 : LAREG meeting, Rome
7-9 : EFJ Annual Meeting and Global Media Seminar, Bled (Slovenia)
For more information, please contact:
Renate Schroeder and Marc Gruber – European Directors
European Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre
Bloc C, second floor
Rue de la Loi, 155