European Parliament Fails to Defend Free Journalism, Says EFJ

The European Federation of

Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) today deplored the failure of the  European Parliament to stand up for journalism

and press freedom in Europe after it narrowly threw out a resolution calling

for action to protect media pluralism.

The debate focused on the

crisis for media freedom in Italy

where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - the country's leading private media

owner - has used his political power to try to stifle independent journalism at

home and abroad. The EFJ says silence over the crisis in Italy gives a green light to other

governments to put undue pressure on media.

Commenting on the rejection

of a resolution on freedom of information in Italy

and in the European Union, the EFJ says that the Parliament has also wasted an

opportunity to speak out over the "intolerable state of free press rights in Italy" which

has undermined European democracy across the globe.

"It is deplorable that the

European Parliament cannot bring itself to defend the principles of press

freedom when they are under siege in one member state," said Aidan White EFJ

General Secretary. "Free journalism is a pillar of European democracy which

needs to be affirmed, defended and cherished. Here was a unique opportunity to

speak out for press freedom which has been wasted."

This week Members of the European Parliament voted down a proposal calling for EU

legislation to protect media pluralism in Europe

"without delay." The text was rejected by a tiny margin of 338 votes against

and 335 in favour with 13 abstentions. 

The

motion also called on the European Parliament to condemn political interference

in media and to combat concentration of media ownership. But conservative politicians

in the EPP block opposed the move claiming it targeted the government of Italy

and that, anyway, the EU should not regulate media.

"There

have been two opportunities to combat interference in European media

over the past ten years and they have been wasted, " said White. "Now another

has gone. It is no comfort that the argument is slowly being won. We need

action now."

The

EFJ says journalists are impatient for change. On 3 October, some 250,000 people

gathered in the centre of Rome

in an unprecedented demonstration against political interference in media by Berlusconi,

whose long record of interference in media including at the public broadcaster

RAI has made him notorious among European political leaders. He recently

launched legal action against a number of Italian and European media

for their reporting of his colourful private

life.

Text of the rejected Resolution:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=P7-RC-2009-0090&language=EN

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in 30

countries.

For

more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 22 15