EFJ Expresses Dismay Over Council of Europe “Missed Opportunity” To Confront Media Concentration Crisis

The European Federation of Journalists today welcomed an extensive report adopted last week by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg dealing with media concentration and the information crisis in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi personally dominates the public and private media scene.

But in a letter to the President of the Parliamentay Assembly, the EFJ today expresses dismay that the assembly failed to adopt practical recommendations arising from the report that would see action taken against media concentration.

“Although the report makes the right sort of noises about media concentration and appeals to the Italian Parliament to resolve the Italian crisis, it provides no suggestions about European-wide action to confront this unacceptable state of affairs,” said Arne Konig, EFJ Chairman today.

The report had recommended that the Council of Europe join forces with the European Union to confront the crisis of concentration in Europe and, in particular, to deal with Berlusconi, whose Mediaset company owns the largest share of private media in Italy and who influences public broadcasting in his role as prime minister.

In the letter to Peter Schieder at the Council of Europe, the EFJ General Secretary Aidan White said that the Council had missed an opportunity to do something practical about the crisis of media concentration in Europe.

“The Council of Europe working together with the European Union could provide a real challenge to media owners who are undermining pluralism and diversity as they continue to consolidate their stranglehold on media holdings all over the continent – particularly in the new EU member states,” said Konig.

The Parliamentary Assembly rejected the recommendations to work with the European Union on the issue because there was no two-thirds majority of members ready to provide support. “This failure weakens efforts to develop a genuine public broadcasting sector in many countries of eastern and central Europe,” said the EFJ.