The European Federation of Journalists today warned publishers that they were downgrading professionalism in Austrian journalism after the Publishers Association announced its claim to quit the Austrian Press Council.
After a dispute between publishers' representatives and the journalists' union on the reform of the Austrian press council, the Association of Austrian Newspapers announced prior this week that they would leave the press council, of which they have been members together with the journalists union Druck, Journalismus und Papier and the Austrian Press Club Concordia for the last forty years.
This decision comes at a time when the newspaper employers plan to erode the existing collective agreements and to shift all decisions regarding labour rights from national to the company level.
The attacks on the Austrian press council must be seen as part of the undermining of crucial elements of the social partnership.
"This latest decision is not just bad news for industrial relations, it is a potentially disastrous decision for the future of self-regulation in the Austrian press", said Gustl Glattfelder, chair of the EFJ. "Press councils have proven to be a well established instrument of self-regulation in the media."
The EFJ is calling upon its members to send letters of protest to the publishers association urging them to rescind their decision and stay in the press council. The alternative establishment of a government-led so called ethics council must be prevented by all means, said the EFJ.
The EFJ, which is Europe's largest journalists' group, adopted a resolution at its Annual Meeting in Brussels on June 15 to support the Austrian affiliate in their fight to maintain the social model in Austria.