Euronews is the bimonthly bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists, produced in the Secretariat in Brussels.
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Annual Meeting in Bled: Global Media, Gender and Future of Journalism
THIS year’s Annual Meeting has an ambitious agenda covering the need for quality journalism in the corporate future, the role of unions in the changing media landscape, gender issues and the revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive. The meeting will take place in Bled (close to Ljubjlana) from April 7-9.
AT its last Meeting in Brussels on January 18, the Steering Committee agreed to focus lobbying efforts on the revision of the Television without Frontiers Directive, the implementation of the data retention at national level, Rome II, the EU Communications strategy and the upcoming Green paper on labour law.
MEPs vote on Services Directive: A Major Victory for European Workers
THE EFJ along with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) regarded the result of the European Parliament (EP) vote on the Services Directive as a real victory for European workers. On February 16, the European Parliament approved, by a large majority, the compromise reached by the main political groups in the Parliament, at the same time burying the initial Commission proposal and putting a new text in its place.
The main trade union demands have been met:
„« labour law is excluded, and in particular issues linked to the posting of workers;
„« sensitive sectors such as temporary work agencies are excluded;
„« the audiovisual sector is excluded;
„« fundamental rights to collective bargaining and action are respected;
„« the country of origin principle has been abolished, enabling Member States to exercise better supervision and apply rules to protect the public interest.
It is now up to the Council of Ministers, as joint legislator with Parliament, to decide its position on the directive and the amendments adopted by MEPs. If all of the Parliaments’ amendments are acceptable to the Council, the legislation will be adopted in its modified form. If the Council rejects any of Parliament's amendments or adds any of its own, the text will return to Parliament for a second reading.
Data Retention: EU adopts Big Brother directive, ignores media industry and civil society
THE Council of Ministers adopted a directive from the Council and the European Parliament on data retention that will create the largest monitoring database in the world, tracking all communications within the EU. The EFJ is very concerned about the impact of this directive once it will be implemented into national legislation. Investigative journalism is under threat.
According to the directive, gathered data (including any use of landline telephones, mobile phones or the Internet) can be made available without special warrants and in the investigation of any type of crime. Each Member State will designate a public authority to be responsible for monitoring within its territory the application of the provisions adopted regarding the security of stored data. Following entry into force of the directive, Member States will have a general rule 18 months in which to comply with its provisions.
The EFJ and other media organisations urged the European Parliament to consider the impact of the directive on the freedom of the media, particularly on the protection of anonymous sources. If journalistic sources can be revealed through call data, media freedom is no longer guaranteed.
Several EFJ member unions have already joined forces with civil society groups and initiated campaigns to show the impact of the data retention directive on media rights, human rights and, specifically, the work of journalists. In Germany, the unions, together with data protectionists and consumer protectionists, presented a ten point catalogue regarding the impact of the national implementation on civil liberties.
Freelance Expert Group adopts Freelance Charter
AT its last meeting in Brussels on February 6, the Freelance Expert Group agreed on the final text of the Freelance Charter. This charter, which follows the model of the Universal Rights Charter, will be presented at this year’s Annual Meeting for adoption. Attendees at the meeting also discussed a list of recommendations regarding freelance strategies, i.e. policies that would better integrate freelances into unions’ work and how to better serve their needs.
AN EFJ delegation with the FREG chairs met with the Commission official responsible for the upcoming Green Paper on labour law. The Green paper, which will stimulate discussion about the need for regulation of economically dependent workers and other ‘atypical work forms,’ is to be published in June.
Labour Rights Group in Rome
THE Labour Rights Expert Group (LAREG) will have its next meeting on March 13 in Rome. The meeting will highlight the difficult situation that the Italian journalist union, FNSI, is in. Contract talks between FINSI and publishers are still stalled. The main point in dispute is how to guarantee minimum standards of quality and dignity to staff and freelance journalists in the future. LAREG will also discuss activities planned for 2006, including a trade union seminar on recruitment and negotiation skills in the autumn.
Journalists Groups to Work with Muslim Media to Ease Cartoon Crisis
ON February 15, the IFJ organised a meeting with major media organisations as well as observers from UNESCO, the European Commission and its Vienna based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to consider a comprehensive statement on a joint approach to meet the challenges of the recent Danish cartoons crisis.
A key commitment was to encourage groups representing media professionals from Europe and the Arab and Muslim world to have dialogue and to work together to raise awareness among journalists from different communities about the need for more informed and ethical reporting on inter-cultural and religious affairs.
The meeting unanimously rejected a proposal for new codes of conduct, guidelines or new laws in response to the controversy over cartoons which depicted the Prophet Mohammed. http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=3718&Language=EN
Commissioner Defends Press Freedom and Promotes Dialogue
ON February 20, Franco Frattini, Vice President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, addressed attendees at the annual International Freedom of Exchange (IFEX) meeting. The IFJ hosted the meeting in Brussels. He made a trenchant defence of free speech in reference to the recent cartoon crisis.
“We must defend freedom of expression,” he said, while calling for “a frank, transparent and even tough exchange of views” which should include a “strong rejection of violence”.
“Freedom of expression must be defended mostly when ideas shock”, the Commissioner said. “The difficulty is to reconcile free expression with the deepest individual convictions, which should also be respected”. He also stated that the Commission has “no legal powers or political intention to limit the freedom of expression”. He described the publication of the cartoons as “unwise, but not illegal, nor should it be” and said “apologies from national governments are not needed - it is up to the publisher to decide whether or not to apologise”.
He also referred to a number of initiatives taken to encourage a dialogue between media representatives and faith leaders, but denied any political bid to impose further rules related to media ethics. The Commissioner expressed his willingness to promote dialogue both within EU boundaries and in neighbouring countries.
His speech is available on:
Protection of Sources: Victory in the UK
THE EFJ member union in Great Britain, the National Union of Journalists hailed a recent High Court ruling that journalist Robin Ackroyd should not have to reveal his source as a historic victory, upholding the highest principles of the profession.
Robin Ackroyd, a freelance journalist who wrote an article about the treatment in hospital of Moors Murderer Ian Brady, won his right to protect his source after a six-year legal battle with the Mersey Care NHS Trust. His case was supported by the NUJ and the union’s lawyers, Thompsons.
Updated Survey on Media Ownership
THE European Federation of Journalists released its updated survey on Media Power in Europe, The Big Picture of Ownership. This survey is an update of the previous surveys on “Eastern Empires” in central Europe and the similar survey in Western Europe.
Download the report on the EFJ website:
Who is in Control? IFEX Hosted Panel on Media Concentration
IN the framework if the International Freedom of Expression Exchange that took place in Brussels on 19-24 February, media watchdog groups debated the impact of globalisation and ownership regulation on freedom of expression. The keynote speaker was US expert Andrew Schwartzman, who led a public protest against media deregulation in the United States in 2003. The other panelists were Granville Williams, the editor of Free Press, the newspaper of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF) in the UK, and Jane Duncan, the Executive Director of the Freedom of eXpression Institute (FXI) in South Africa. The American example showed that a broad coalition with civil society groups can raise awareness of media ownership issues and even though regulations concern only terrestrial broadcasters, there is an overall impact on media since major networks are also the major information providers in new media.
THE European Parliament is currently examining a proposal for the new “Television without Frontiers” directive, now called the “Audiovisual media Services Directive,” which was adopted by the Commission on 13 December 2005. The Culture Committee designated Ms. Hieronymi (EPP, Germany) to be the Rapporteur on this matter. A first discussion at the European Parliament in January showed that the main point of political friction is the introduction of product placement in the European television landscape. The EFJ is currently finalising its position in view of the upcoming report of the European Parliament, expected during the spring.
The EFJ Broadcasting Expert Group (BREG) will have its next meeting on April 26.
AUTHORS’ RIGHTS NEWS
AREG releases its study on the legal protection of a person’s image.
A questionnaire on the legal protection of a person’s image was circulated to all EFJ unions in the course of 2005 to evaluate the legal situation in various European countries. At a time where photographers face more and more law suits either because they photograph a building or because some people recognised themselves in a picture, AREG felt it was necessary to gather in-depth information on existing legal provisions in Europe. Albrecht Haller concludes that most countries apply a stricter regime when a person’s image is used for promotional purposes without consent.
Directive on enforcement of criminal sanctions
THIS directive aims at harmonising EU law in the field of criminal penalties in case of IP infringements, on the basis of the TRIPS agreements. The original text of the directive has been withdrawn and no new text is available yet. The Rapporteur in EP for this directive is Nicola Zingaretti, PSE.
The European Parliament held a hearing on the “effective protection of intellectual property” to address the issue and listen to stakeholders’ views.
The European Commission published a communication in September 2005 which proposed an initial plan of action to put digital content online. Three key areas have been identified: access, digitization of analogue works and preservation and storage. It was followed by a staff working paper which gives further background information on this issue. An online consultation is open until 12th March to address the key challenges.
A high level expert group has been created by the Commission. It will meet for the first time on 27 March.
On that same line, publishers are also raising their concerns over search engines practices on newspaper’s contents and the exploitation of content by search engines without providing fair compensation to copyright owners. Google is accused of feeding its Google news website using newspapers’ content with no authorization from publishers and without paying for it. This will be discussed at the Authors’ Rights expert Group meeting in Brussels on 25 February.
First mission of Indian Women Journalists to Europe
UNDER the auspices of the EU-funded project “Europe-India: Building Paths to Equality in Journalism,” 10 women journalist members of the All India Newspaper Employees Federation and its affiliate the Bangalore Newspaper Employees Union participated in a trip to Brussels, Berlin and London to get some insight on gender equality strategies within media organisations and unions in Europe. This tour was coordinated by the EFJ, the DJV in Germany and the NUJ in the UK.
The Indian delegation and European journalists both gave positive feedback on the trip. The mission showed the importance and the value of developing dialogue between the two regions on gender equality and the exchange of best practices on how to develop gender equality committees within unions, lobby for equal rights and address gender equality within media. The next mission to Europe will take place on 17-22 April. The programme for the first mission is accessible on:
EUROPEAN POLICY BRIEFING
Adoption of Application of TWF Directive
The Fifth Report from the Commission (COM(2006) 49 final) relating to the application of the "Television without Frontiers" Directive for the period 2003 – 2004 was adopted on 10.2.2006. The report analyses the salient aspects of the application of the Directive during the reference period and demonstrates that the Directive continues to function successfully in ensuring the freedom to provide television services in the EU. However, in view of market and technological developments, a need to review the current EU regulatory framework has become apparent. http://europa.eu.int/comm/avpolicy/regul/twf/applica/com2006_49final_en.pdf
EU Commission and Media Professionals Clash Over Communication Plans:
On 1 February, during the official presentation of its White Paper on Communication, the European Commission faced concerned media professionals over plans to develop its television service, which some journalists fear could lead to setting up a taxpayer-funded propaganda news agency. The EFJ as well as the International Press Association representing Brussels-based journalists wrote to Commission Vice-President Margot Wallström to voice alarm over a proposal in a White Paper on EU communications policy to upgrade the current “Europe by Satellite” facility into a service providing “stories” to citizen and media. There will be a consultation period on the White Paper until July.
Upcoming Report on Digital Broadcasting
The Culture Committee of the European Parliament is currently debating the “Draft report on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting: An opportunity for European audiovisual policy and cultural diversity,” which stresses the need to safeguard the European public service values as well as media pluralism and quality content. The Rapporteur, Mr Henri Weber (ESP, France), urged the launch of a debate at EU level on pluralism and media ownership concentration.
Proposal for More Coherence in Social Dialogue Policy
A draft report, drawn up by French Socialist MEP Jean Louis Cottigny and considered by the employment and social affairs committee in January 2006, calls for greater coherence between the Directives on European Works Councils, collective redundancies and information and consultation. It also ask the Commission to submit a proposal for the amendment of the EWCs Directive “in the interests of strengthening employees’ rights”. The draft report seeks the establishment of an EU framework for the protection of workers’ rights in the event of restructuring and argues that, “in the absence of a satisfactory reaction from the social partners”, the Commission should “submit a proposal for a Directive”.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Rome II: Franco Frattini takes defamation out of Rome II
AS a consequence of great divergences within the European Council on the law applicable to trans-border defamation cases (more than 10 options were put on the table in the past 4 months), European Commission Vice President Frattini suggested leaving infringement of privacy cases out of the scope of the Rome II Regulation by deleting Article 6.
The Justice and Home Affairs council meeting on 21 February showed general support for this latest attempt to reach a compromise on such a controversial subject. Since member states need to unanimously disagree to reject this new proposal from the Commission, it looks like the Council’s common position will follow the amended proposal and leave defamation out of Rome II.
This solution is a far better compromise than all options that have been suggested so far, despite the very positive amendment passed in Parliament in July. It remains to be seen how the European Parliament will react in second reading. Diana Wallis, the liberal democrat Rapporteur in the Parliament, has strongly criticised the Commission’s backtracking on article 6.
Austrian and Finnish Presidencies set out social policy priorities:
In late December 2005, the Austrian and Finnish governments issued a joint document listing their policy priorities for their EU Presidencies in the first and second halves of 2006, respectively. In the area of employment and social policy, specific measures include the revision of the working time Directive, possible work on the draft temporary agency work Directive and a continuing focus on the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE (COE)
UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
On 7 February 2005, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Recommendation, inviting Member States of the Council of Europe to ratify as soon as possible the Convention, adopted by UNESCO in October 2005. The main objective of the text is to protect and to promote the diversity of cultural expressions, to reaffirm the importance of freedom of thought, expression and information, as well as diversity of the media to enable cultural expressions to flourish within societies.
Several common points exist between the objectives and the guiding principles stated in UNESCO Convention and a number of Council of Europe instruments with regard to culture and the media. Furthermore, the Convention attaches considerable importance to international and regional co-operation for the creation of conditions conducive to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
The Council of Europe is seeking opinions from journalists and other citizens on the topic of freedom of expression in times of crisis. The body’s media division has posted a series of questions online in an effort to get input from anyone interested in the issue. The media division has published a report on “International standards of freedom of expression and information in times of crisis.” The division is now seeking public feedback on the report and issues related to that theme. The report and questions are available at
Publications / Websites / Upcoming Meetings
The Hans-Bredow-Institute and the Institute of European Media Law presented the draft final report of the study on co-regulation measures in the media sector on 19 January 2006 in Brussels. The study concluded that Member States may use co-regulatory systems – as opposed to pure self-regulation – to implement the Television without Frontiers Directive. http://co-reg.hans-bredow-institut.de
The European Audiovisual Observatory published an overview of competition policy regarding the audiovisual sector, including public service broadcasting cases. The text concludes that the Treaty contains a number of exceptions that authorise the conclusions of agreements between audiovisual undertakings and the granting of state aid in the audiovisual sector. However, the exemptions are temporary as they are limited in duration and they can be cancelled through a verdict by the European court of First Instance.
The Council of Europe published a report prepared by Christian S. Nissen for the Council of Europe's Group of Specialists on Public Service Broadcasting in the Information Society (MC-S-PSB):
8: Freelance Expert Group Meeting, Brussels; 24: Creators Meeting, Brussels; 25: AREG
13 : LAREG meeting, Rome
7-9: EFJ Annual Meeting and Global Media Seminar, Bled (Slovenia)
For more information, please contact:
Renate Schroeder and Marc Gruber – European Directors
European Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre
Bloc C, second floor
Rue de la Loi, 155