European Journalists “Sound The Alarm” Over Public Broadcasting Crisis

As journalists in Britain, Portugal, Switzerland and Slovenia lined up to protest over the crisis facing their national public broadcasting systems, the European Federation of Journalists today said it was time to “sound the alarm” over the future of the European model of public service radio and television.

“Across the whole of Europe there is profound concern over the future of social and professional rights in public broadcasting,” said Arne König, the Chairman of the EFJ. “It is time to sound the alarm over attacks that could prove fatal for the European model of public service broadcasting.”

In Portugal journalists and media workers started a three-day strike today over the management at RTP, the country’s public broadcaster, which is blocking talks over a new collective agreement. In Britain, journalists and media workers are gearing up for a strike vote at the BBC over management plans to cut almost 4,000 jobs. In Slovenia, journalists are outraged over government plans to change the law governing control of the operations of the public broadcaster RTS. In Switzerland, public broadcaster SSR is planning to dismantle the online news service Swissinfo.

“We are extremely concerned over these developments. There appears to be a growing number of attacks on the fabric of public service broadcasting," said Arne König. “These attacks are not acceptable not just because they undermine employment rights and working conditions, but also because they undermine the quality and structure of public broadcasting”.

The EFJ is supporting its affiliates in efforts to defend jobs and conditions and is supporting campaigns – such as in Italy where there is fierce debate over the future of the public broadcaster RAI – to strengthen the independence of broadcasters from political groups.

In January, the EFJ published a Manifesto for Public Service Values in the media. “More than ever, these values need to be defended,” said König.