Euronews is the bimonthly bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists, produced in the Secretariat in Brussels.
Public Broadcasting News
Authors' Rights News
European Policy Briefing
EFJ Leaders Urge Swiss Publishers to get back to the Negotiating Table
IN view of an imminent labour rights crisis in Switzerland, the EFJ Steering Committee followed the invitation by the two Swiss affiliates, impressum and co-media, to hold the last Steering Committee in Lucerne on February 3-5, organise a press conference and exchange information on journalists’ unions labour rights disputes in Europe.
At the press conference, the EFJ accused Swiss media of maintaining an unacceptable blockage on Social Dialogue with the trade union and journalists’ association in the press sector.
EFJ Chair Arne König expressed his concern about the situation journalists in Switzerland face regarding the absence of a regulatory framework in form of a national collective agreement (GAV=Gesamtarbeitsvertrag) in the German and Italian speaking parts of the country. Due to a continuing refusal by the publishers to renew the national collective agreement for journalists and technical editorial staff, which expired in August 2004, journalists are confronted with a situation of legal uncertainty unheard of in most of western EU and EFTA member states.
Future Visions embarked by Steering Committee
GIVEN the more neo-liberal orientations of the new European Commission under President Barroso the Steering Committee agreed to draft a policy paper containing visions and targets to strengthen the trade unions for the years to come. Discussion also focused on recent EU draft legislation, such as the revision of the working time directive, the revision of the European Works Council directive, the draft service directive and the draft Rome II regulation (see European Briefing below).
A brainstorming session was organised following the Steering Committee meeting with the goal to reflect on ways how to make the EFJ and its working bodies and statutory bodies more efficient and transparent.
Annual Meeting in Bilbao: Quality and Journalists’ Rights
UNDER the theme ‘Media, Quality and Journalists’ Rights in the European Union and Beyond. How can we make a difference?’ EFJ leaders will gather this year in Bilbao for the EFJ Annual Meeting and discuss with trade union leaders, employers, journalists’ experts and Members of the European Parliament the need to maintain quality and decent working conditions in the media sector, which is characterised by an economic and employment crisis. Motions dealing with attacks on trade union rights, public service broadcasting etc. will also be on the agenda.
THIS year’s Annual Meeting is preceded by a major IFJ conference Journalism, War and Civil Liberties: International Debate on the Threat to Democracy Posed
By the War on Terror, Intolerance and Media Populism. It will focus on the crisis for journalism and civil liberties as a new security agenda dominates policy-making in a world increasingly fearful of terrorism. Two years ago the IFJ published a report on the impact of new anti-terrorism laws on the work of journalists, which concluded that the journalists and media organisations were facing unprecedented pressures.
Labour Rights Expert Group Adopts Mid-Term Action Plan
THE EFJ Labour Rights Expert Group meeting in Brussels on 18 February defined a mid-term action-plan containing clear responsibilities and timetables. It contains priorities such as the finalisation of a handbook on European Works Councils in the media sector, the updating of studies on good practices in social rights and the defence or the development of collective bargaining in Europe. This last point is of particular importance in a context where unions in several Western European countries are renewing collective agreements with extreme difficulties, and journalists in new EU member states need to develop their own agreements. The EFJ is organising a conference in May in Slovenia in collaboration with the European Trade Union College on the development of journalists’ rights in Europe, with a particular focus on transnational networks.
EFJ Freelances Reinforce Activities in Central and Eastern Europe
BASIC union policy on freelances’ strategies, that is how to better recruit freelance journalists and integrate them into mainstream union work, was a major subject at the last Freelance Expert Group meeting in Brussels on January 24. The meeting agreed to organise the next EFJ Freelance seminar on freelance strategies and freelances’ rights in Central and Eastern Europe in the autumn, since EFJ affiliates in CEE are least equipped to deal with the freelance crisis in that region.
At the meeting, Catelene Pascheer from the ETUC, discussed developments with regard to the service directive and its potential impact on freelances as well as ways of getting the freelance issue on the agenda of the ETUC and the European Union. The upcoming Green paper on new work patterns, which includes the issue of economically dependent workers was discussed as well.
EP Intergroup Press-Communication-Freedom Launched
THE European Parliament launched the Intergroup on Press, Communication and Freedom, under the leadership of MEPs Lilli Gruber and Jean-Marie Cavada. Two meetings took place up to now under the umbrella of the Intergroup, one on safety of journalists and kidnapped journalists in war zones, and the other on the impact of media concentration on journalists’ independence. The EFJ participated in both meetings. Upcoming meetings will focus on media ownership, the draft service directive, the upcoming Commission Communication on Communication Strategy, and transparency and access to documents in the European Union. Meetings will allow employers and unions of the media sector to expose their views.
EFJ Meets Leaders in European Parliament
IN close co-operation with the EFJ Greek affiliates, the EFJ arranged a meeting with Nikolaos Sifunakis, chairman of the EP Committee on Culture and Education in Brussels on January 26. Steering Committee member Moschos Voitisidis and Executive Committee member Nikos Megrelis joined the EFJ delegation. Sifunakis proposed to organise a public hearing on public service values in the media together with the Culture Committee later in the year or early 2006.
Another meeting took place on February 14 between the EFJ, IFJ Executive Committee member, Paolo Serventi Longhi from the FNSI, the chair Arne König and the EFJ secretariat with Ottavio del Turco, President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee. The meeting discussed concerns with regard to the revision of the working time directive, the revision of the European Works Councils Directive and the urgent need to get minimum regulations for freelance and economically dependent workers. Del Turco proposed to organise a major conference on the issue of precariousness and the impact on the quality of the media in the autumn.
Legal Officers’ Network Launched
ON MARCH 7 legal officers/lawyers from EFJ member unions met in Brussels to examine what legal challenges need to be taken up at European level and which instruments should be used to further improve the EFJ’s lobbying capacities. The meeting discussed recent draft legislation important to EFJ members and agreed that labour law issues, protection of sources and legislation relating to freedom of information were priority. A European Legislative Briefing was prepared for the meeting summarising in detail recent draft legislation and including contacts, time-table and infos on co-decision procedure. The report is available in English at the secretariat.
Commissioner Wallström Debates Communication Strategy with Journalists
MARGOT Wallström, the Commission’s Vice-President in charge of communication and institutional reform, was critical of the Commission’s public relations record. She presented priorities for her new communication strategy at a meeting organised by Journalists @ Your Service and the EFJ on February 14th, 2005. Some 180 journalists and media professionals asked Margot Wallström, on how she planned to “sell” the EU to European citizens and put forward their concerns about relations between the Commission and the press.
MEP Jean-Marie Cavada and leader of the newly installed Intergroup on Press, Communication and Freedom, criticised the lack of full access to EU documents. Also organisations like the UK-based Statewatch and several Brussels correspondents criticised the lack of access to EU-information under the new Barroso Commission.
Margot Wallström agreed that access to information was essential and promised to promote it better within the new Commission. A follow-up meeting between the Commissioner and the EFJ will take place in April to define more concrete steps of co-operation.
Protection of Sources in Belgium: New Draft Bill
AFTER several law proposals since 1985 a bill on the protection of journalistic sources is now finally on its way to a vote by the Belgian parliament. After a first reading by the Chamber of representatives in July 2004, the Senate on 27 January 2005 approved a modified version. The text has now been sent back to the Chamber for final approval of the law.
The draft law is in line with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation No. R (2000) 7 of 8 March 2000 to member States on the rights of journalists not to disclose their sources. The law project not only formulates a broad notion of who is a journalist and what is protected information, it also reduces substantially the possibility of compelling journalists to reveal their sources, as well as any kind of investigative measures taken by the judicial authorities to circumvent the right of journalists not to reveal their sources. Journalists exercising their right to protection of sources can neither be prosecuted for “fencing”, nor for complicity in the offence of breach of professional secrecy.
The case of Stern journalist Hans Martin Tillack has been presented to the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg and the IFJ’s application for leave to intervene in the case in support of the journalists to protect his sources has been accepted by the court. (Case T-1933/04).
Greek Journalists Confront Ministry Over Conflicts of Interest Crisis
THE IFJ and the EFJ called on the Greek government to avoid a “rush to legislate” over claims that Greek journalists are involved in ethical conflicts of interest. A dispute has arisen between government officials and journalists’ leaders over complaints that some reporters in Greece are receiving payments from public sector sources and are, at the same time, working as “independent” journalists reporting on public affairs. The EFJ affiliates in Greece are against any hastily prepared laws that would try to control the way journalists work.
EFJ Organises a Workshop to Test Reporstage Web Site
THE EFJ organized an evaluation workshop for the ‘Reporstag-e’ virtual training site for journalists at the International Press Centre in Brussels on 3rd March. The evaluation workshop marks the final phase of a two-year project to develop a user-friendly site for on-line training courses in new technology. (www.reporstage.org). The Reporstag-e site was evaluated by a panel of nine Brussels based journalists and media professionals who strongly supported the Reporstage initiative.
Visit the Reporstage web site and send us your feedback!
Other: French local paper’s news available in cellular phone
THE French local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi is selling its news to telephone company Orange. French subscribers of the company can get actual regional news on their cellular phone each week day. The phone broadcast is about 1.5 minute long. villamedia
The European Commission launched an investigation in January into the merger between Bertelsmann and Springer and the company JV. Interested third parties had two weeks to submit their comments and the Commission is making their final decision on whether to allow the concentration in activities to go ahead.
Spanish newspaper group considers investment in France's Le Monde
Grupo Prisa, publisher of Spanish newspaper El Pais, took part in the recapitalization of troubled French daily Le Monde, the Madrid-based company The journalists of ‘Le Monde’ accepted the entry of ‘Lagadère and of EL Pais with a majority of 60% due to the extremely difficult economic situation of the newspaper.
Plan for Merger of Eight Dutch Newspapers
IN December 2004, two major Dutch newspaper publishers, PCM and Wegener, presented a plan to create a single newspaper for the entire Randstad area --the name given to the area comprising the main Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. This would make the newspaper the second biggest in the Netherlands after De Telegraaf. The proposed merger includes, among others, Algemeen Dagblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad and Haagsche Courant. However, not all the newspapers are willing to merge and some are protesting against the plan. According to the Dutch law, a publisher is only allowed to control a maximum of 35 per cent of the market and the Dutch Competition authority has to agree on the merger. The eight newspapers currently employ 1,200 people and job cuts are expected is the merger will take place.
More info (Dutch) : Villamedia
PUBLIC BROADCASTING NEWS
EFJ Broadcasting Expert Group Launched
AT its last meeting, the EFJ Steering Committee agreed to reinforce the activities on broadcasting and decided to establish an EFJ broadcasting group, to deal with public service values and journalists’ rights in the European broadcasting sector. The creation of the new experts group should be confirmed at the Annual Meeting in Bilbao. A preparatory meeting took place in Brussels on 3 March, with European members of the IFJ PSB Committee and the first meeting of the EFJ Broadcasting Experts Group will take place on 10 June in Brussels.
European Journalists Call for Manifesto of Public Service Values In 2005 Broadcasting Battle
A EUROPEAN Manifesto of Public Service Values in Broadcasting was launched by the EFJ at the beginning of this year. Politicians, public authorities and civil society groups are called to unite around this manifesto. This Manifesto is launched in a context of threats to public service from trade liberalisation, commercial pressure over media and political spin-doctors trying to manipulate public opinion. A list of criteria to guarantee public service values in broadcasting are included in the manifesto.
European Commission Asks for “Clarifications” on the Role and Financing of Public Service Broadcasters
DURING a press conference on 4 March 2005 expected by many broadcasting professionals, the European Commission requested “clarifications” from Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands about the role and the financing of public service broadcasters.
The Commission has in the past investigated the financing regimes in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, but the current complaints made by commercial broadcasters have also raised new issues, such as the financing of public broadcasters’ online activities. The three Member States have now the opportunity to comment on these preliminary views in the next months.
In a press release following this legal opinion, German public broadcaster ARD said that “it is incomprehensible that [public service] competence should depend on the technical means of transmission.” Following the outcome of that case, public broadcasting services and new technologies in the digital world are at stake.
Victory at Portuguese Public Broadcaster
THE EFJ supported the strikers at Portuguese public broadcaster RTP on 18 February, which helped the unions to successfully re-open negotiations on a collective agreement with management. The strike has been declared in both television and radio by three media unions including the EFJ affiliate in Portugal, Sindicato dos Jornalistas, because of the refusal of the company’s Council of Administration to continue the dialogue on a proposal for a collective agreement.
AUTHORS’ RIGHTS NEWS
EFJ Study on the Protection of a Person’s Image
The EFJ Authors’ Rights Expert Group (AREG) is collecting responses to produce an analysis on the protection of a person’s image in Europe. A downloadable questionnaire is available in English and German. The EFJ Authors’ Rights Expert Group meeting will convene on 16th April.
New Deputy Head for the Copyright Unit
Tilman Lueder, former spokesperson for the European Commissions’ Directorate General (DG) Competition was appointed deputy head of the copyright and knowledge-based economy unit of DG Internal market in January. The European Commission has called for candidacies to replace former Head of Unit Jörg Reinbothe who left almost 9 months ago.
Gender Politics and Media: Challenging Stereotypes
The EFJ in cooperation wityh the European Journalism Centre is coordinating a project on Gender, Politics and Media: Challenging Stereotypes, Promoting Diversity, Strengthening Equality. This project is financially supported by the European Union. It aims at developing approaches to media portrayal of women and men in public life and politics by producing and disseminating an audio-visual training toolkit. This toolkit –for use in broadcasting and journalism training situations throughout the EU- will be based on analysis of examples drawn from current media output. The final toolkit will be tested by the EFJ Gender Council and presented at the EFJ 2006 General Meeting.
Contact email@example.com to be added on the project’s mailing list.
The EFJ will organize a seminar on “Women Journalists in the EU-Integration Process-Gender, Quality and Union Rights in European Media”. This seminar will take place in Cyprus at the end of May 2005 and should convene about 40 EFJ delegates. The seminar will include training on how to achieve equal rights and implement best practices, discuss the establishment of a working network of union activists to lobby and campaign for gender rights and define a detailed working programme for EFJ unions.
European Policy Briefing
A new media taskforce will be established within DG Information Society (Directorate A). This will act as an early warning system for legislation, which will affect media and an “entry point” for the media representative associations to bring their concerns on legislative issues to the attention of policymakers.
In February 2005 the European Commission issued its Social Agenda for the coming five years. Key proposals include the establishment of a European Gender Institute, a Green Paper on new forms of work (which includes economically dependent workers), a second round of social partner consultations on restructuring, an initiative on the establishment of a voluntary framework for transnational collective bargaining and an initiative on data protection for workers.
ETUC comments on the Social agenda: ETUC
With regard to the service directive, Commission President Barroso anounced that the Commission would accept substantial amendments to the legislation after the EP’s first reading is complete. The Commissioner for the Internal Market, Charlie McCreevy suggested informally that he would accept the service directive without the country of origin principle if this was the view of the EP after first reading and the preference of the majority of member states.
The Commission will publish a Communication on restructuring and employment in March 2005. The communication will suggest the creation of a European framework for collective bargaining both a sectoral and company level, on EU-wide issues and not on wage determination.
The Commission launched a first stage social partner consultation on the 17 January 2005 aiming to obtain the opinion of the social partners concerning the protection of health and safety at work against all forms of violence at the workplace, including bullying.
The Commission has launched a consultation with civil society since October 2004 and organised a hearing on the development of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights by extending the mandate of the EU Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia. The role of the Agency would be to help ensure compliance with fundamental rights of both EU law and policies and implementation of the latter in Member States.
The Socialist Group held a special conference on the draft service directive on February 15-16. It focused largely on the legal and political position of the service directive with regard to country of origin principle, coherence with other legislation etc. The conference reflected trade union concerns about the directive. Link to Website of Socialist Group
In the Culture and Education Committee, a first exchange was held on 31 January. The rapporteur Marie-Hélène Descamps (EPP-ED-FR) gave an overview focusing primarily on the implication for the audiovisual sector. MEPs were very critical of the proposed directive, and stressed that the TV without Frontiers directive was the best format for regulating the audiovisual services. The Committee will organise a public hearing on 15 March on the subject.
The Employment and Social Affairs Committee will exchange views on the Commission amendments to the Working Time Directive with a deadline for introduding amendments on 16 March. The rapporteur Alejandro Cercas (PES, ES) will propose a compromise on the opt-out and role of collective bargaining, which is being threatened by the very employer friendly amendments propsosed by the Commission. The EFJ informed the rapporteur of its position stressing that any opt-out rules would threaten the working conditions of media workers and to keep the maximum weekly working time of 48 hours as foreseen in the directive. The Womens’ Committee was very critical during a first exchange of views on 25 January, obviously the concerns of family and work life balance were prominent.
The EP Committee on Legal Affairs discussed the draft regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (“Rome II”). The rapporteur Diana Wallis announced that the question of which law should apply to defamation and violation of privacy is one of the main points of concerns. She announced to redraft her report and to meet the shadow rapporteurs of the other political groups to exchange views. The EFJ circulated its position stressing the importance of the country of origin principle with regard to defamation law to all concerned MEPs.
The EP is discussing a draft recommendation on human dignity and protection of minors in the online media including provisions on the right of reply. Most media organisations defend the view that the draft should not entail references to the right of reply as this is a question of editorial content regulation, which is outside of EU institutions’ competency.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
With regard to media issues, the Luxembourg Presidency is aiming for political agreement on the Draft recommendation on the protection of minors, human dignity and right of reply by May 2005. On the Television without Frontiers Directive, conferences will be held by the Luxembourg and UK Presidencies of the Council on May 30-31 and September 20-21 2005 respectively. A conference will be organised on June 7 in Luxembourg concerning how to accelerate the introduction of high definition TV in the EU. Finalising the UNESCO convention draft texts on cultural diversity is also seen as a priority, as is maximising the creativity of cultural industries, through initiatives such as digitalisation of industries for fast and easy-access to cultural knowledge.
The Council Directive on the principle of equal treatment between women and men in the access to and supply of goods and services was adopted by the EU General Affairs Council in December. The content of media and advertisement is not covered by the Directive, though it was included in the original proposal. The directive applies to discrimination and sexual harassment outside the workplace.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE (COE)
Defining the rights and responsibilities of the media in times of crisis, protecting media diversity in the face of globalisation and defending human rights in the Information Society were the main themes of the 7th European Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy, which took place on 10 and 11 March in Kyiv. EFJ General Secretary Aidan White intervened on the basis of the EFJ submission sent to the Council of Europe(see link below). He said that the EFJ as part of an international journalists' inquiry would meet with the General Prosecutor and the Ukraine Interior Minister to discuss the next steps in the Gongadze case and an interim report of the IFJ’s international inquiry into the story of incompetence and abuse of authority regarding Gongadze would be published soon.
EUROPEAN TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has called a Euro-demonstration on Saturday 19 March, in Brussels, ahead of the crucial Spring European Council meeting taking place on 22-23 March. Over 50,000 people will demonstrate in Brussels in defence of employment and social rights, and against the proposed directive on services in the internal market.
Publications / Websites / Upcoming Meetings
The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has a complete online database on existing European Works Councils : www.ewcdb.org, as well as a CD-ROM containing most of the EWCs agreements. It also identifies companies falling under the scope of the EWC Directive, which did not yet set up EWCs (such as WAZ and Ringier). Once the EFJ project on “East meets West, Social Dialogue in the Media Sector” is finished, the EFJ we also have more information on EWCs in the media sector and will send it to the ETUI.
The Advisory Panel on media diversity of the Council of Europe has produced a report on Transnational Media Concentrations in Europe. This report was approved by the CDMM at its last meeting in November 2004:
The European Institute for the Media has produced a study on ‘The information of the citizen in the EU: obligations for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed”. The study was prepared on behalf of the European Parliament. It should be available soon on the webpage of the EIM (www.eim.org). You may ask for an electronic copy at the EFJ Secretariat.
17: IFJ Meeting on “Europe-North America Dialogue for Public Service Values”, Baltimore
17-18: EBU Broadcasting Conference, Brussels
19: ETUC Euro-Demonstration in support of Employment and social rights, Brussels
2-3 : IFJ Conference on Media, War and Terrorism, Bilbao
4-5 : EFJ Annual Meeting, Bilbao
7: Pluralism not concentration: An EU media policy, European Parliament, Brussels
6: Authors’ Rights Expert Group, Brussels
10 : EFJ Broadcasting Experts Group meeting, Brussels
15: Meeting of EFJ chairs and Steering Committee, Brussels
16 : EFJ Steering Committee Meeting, Brussels