The International Federation of Journalists today called on the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi to put the defence of public service broadcasting higher on the European Union agenda as attacks on public networks have increased.
"In a number of European Union states public broadcasting has come under intolerable pressure and it is vital that the European Union restates its long-established commitment to public service values in media," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and the European Federation of Journalists, which represents more than 200,000 journalists throughout the EU and the enlargement countries.
The IFJ intervention follows a three-week strike by more than 1,200 journalists at France Televisions and Radio France concerned over the future financing and organisation of public television and radio. The strike, which ended earlier this month began on Tuesday, was supported by the French IFJ affiliates (SNJ, FO, CFDT and CGT). At the same time, the IFJ has drawn attention to growing pressure on public broadcasting in Portugal, Spain and Denmark where unions have expressed concern over future broadcasting policy.
"In Europe there is a growing unease among unions of journalists and other broadcasting staff over contradictions in government policy and public broadcasting, " said Aidan White, in the letter to Mr Prodi. "Governments are failing to make adequate funds available for public broadcasting or are making unacceptable cutbacks in services. Inevitably, this has a negative impact on the quality of broadcasting".
The IFJ points to the French example where working conditions have worsened in recent years. "This strike is an inevitable consequence of bad management and a lack of political commitment to the ideals of public service broadcasting. Similar problems are felt throughout Europe," said White.
The IFJ is asking that the European Union takes new initiatives -- including support for new European-wide actions to promote public service broadcasting - which will also encourage more rapid change in the enlargement countries where the transition from state-controlled systems of broadcasting to genuinely public service networks is still far from complete.
The IFJ has also launched a worldwide campaign to defend public television and says that the events in France and elsewhere illustrate the need for transnational solidarity between media workers to challenge cut-backs and to establish minimum standards in the EU necessary to secure the survival of public broadcasting.
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries