The European Federation of Journalist, which represents more than 260.000 across Europe, today expressed fears that the announcement of the sale of the Norwegian media company Orkla Media might compromise the editorial independence and quality of the group's titles.
The EFJ has called upon Orkla ASA , the a major Norwegian industrial conglomerate, which has decided to sell out its media activities organised in the group Orkla Media to ensure that any new owner maintains the commitment to independent journalism which has helped build the company's repuration in Norway and in otehr European countries where the company has media interests.
“We want to be assured that the media holdings in the group will be sold to new owners with similar respect for quality and independent journalism," said Arne König, the EFJ Chair. "The reputation for quality and social dialogue, which has been a trademark of Orkla Media, and which underpins its respect within the European journalists’ community, must be continued."
König said that media newsrooms and journalists must continue to fulfil their obligations to give their local and national audiences a news service which reflects high standards and good quality journalism.
Orkla Media is the fifth largest media company in the Nordic area and operates in newspapers, magazines, local radio/TV, digital media and direct marketing in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine. It has established a well functioning European Works Council, which was extended with the participation of the EFJ in 2003 to Poland. Orkla Media respects the principles of independent journalism and has established a set of "publishing principles" which applies to all Orkla's International media activity.
Selling Orkla Media just to meet short term profit interests, represented by various funds or private equity entities will certainly weaken the credibility of Norwegian Orkla ASA and it's management, warns the EFJ. "It could represent a threat to the future for journalists currently working for the company, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe," said König
The EFJ and its national affiliates plan to closely monitor the sale process of Orkla Media.
EFJ press release in 2003: