EURONEWS December 2004

Euronews is the bimonthly bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists, produced in the Secretariat in Brussels.


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EFJ News

Media Concentration

Public Broadcasting News

Authors' Rights News

European Policy Briefing

Publications/Websites

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EFJ NEWS


EFJ Conference Adopts Action Plan for Social Dialogue in Central and Eastern Europe


LEADERS and experts of journalists’ unions and associations from over 20 European countries met in Tallinn on 5-6 November for a conference entitled “East Meets West: Social Dialogue in the Media Sector”. The conference was organised by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) with the support of the European Commission and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Participants condemned poor social standards in the media sector in Central and Eastern Europe, in particular among multinational companies, which apply “double standards” that vary between their home country and other regions of economic activity.

Three workshops were organised: Social dialogue in media companies, union building and European works councils. The conclusions and action-plan of the conference are on the EFJ Website.


To follow-up this meeting, the EFJ will produce a handbook on European Works Councils for its member unions, identify media companies that still need to develop EWCs and update the existing survey on good practices in the media sector.


Protection of Sources: Belgian Court says that Police Raid against Stern reporter was “legal”


THE EFJ continues to support German reporter Hans-Martin Tillack whose magazine, Der Stern, has decided to appeal against the Court of First Instance at the European Court of Justice. ON 1 December, the Belgian Cour de Cassation has rejected Hans Tillack’s appeal against the decision of the Cour d'Appel, which had declared the search and seizures in his home and the "Stern" office in Brussels as legal. (See Euronews September 2004, Protection of Sources : Tillack Case Goes to European Court ) The appeal will be introduced before the end of the year.


Jail Threat to Portuguese Journalist over Protection of Sources

A PORTUGUESE journalist, José Luis Manso Preto, has been condemned on 10 December to a suspended sentence of 11 month of jail for refusing to reveal his source, when he was called to give evidence at a drug trial. Mr. Preto has been sentenced even though the protection of sources is protected by the Portuguese law and the constitution, as well as by Article 10 on Freedom of Expression in the European Convention on Human Rights. The Portuguese Union of Journalists is supporting an appeal against the verdict and journalists’ leaders plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

See EFJ Website


EFJ Raises Concerns Over Turkey’s Record on Media Rights As EU Leaders Meet

PRIOR to the decision of the European Council on 17 December to open negotiations with Turkey in 2005, the EFJ raised the issue of journalists’ rights in a letter sent to Abdullah Gül, the Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Several EFJ member unions sent the same letter to their Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The main concerns raised by the EFJ and its affiliates focused on violation of union rights, sanctions within the new Penal Code related to the publishing and broadcasting and the monitoring of Turkish journalists over reports about the Cyprus crisis.

See EFJ Website


EFJ Protests Over Swedish Bid to “Down-Size” Freelance Rights

ONE of Sweden’s leading daily newspapers Dagens Nyheter tried to slash the payments to its freelance writers on the grounds that it had changed the paper to a tabloid format. Both the Swedish Union of Journalists and the Swedish Writers’ Union opened negotiations on behalf of their freelancing members, mainly art critics, who are affected by the company’s attempt to cut fees by 20 per cent. Union leaders reject the argument put forward by the management saying that a new format meant shorter texts were needed and thus would justify a decrease of salary.

See EFJ Website


Media Concentration


Greece Tightens Media Ownership Rules

Greece has tightened media ownership rules to prevent media barons from using the power of their newspapers and television channels to win lucrative state procurements. According to a recent draft law businesses or offshore companies will be banned from receiving state contracts. The draft bill, which lowers the current five percent ceiling and also extends to owners' relatives, is aimed at curbing media influence in the country’s political life. The bill also grants the National Radio-TV Council (ESR, the independent broadcast-licensing authority), greater powers to monitor media shareholders' business transactions with the state.

The bill has been subject to debate; critics are concerned that it would undermine competition within the media sector, whereas supporters maintain that it will curb incidents of vested interests. Another question is whether the bill is compatible with Community Law; European Commissioner responsible for the Environment Stavros Dimas has stated that in the event there are clauses that are not compatible with EU legislation, they will be corrected.


EFJ Supported French Action Against Media Concentration

ON 6 November, the EFJ supported the protest organised by the French Media Observatory and the French journalists’ unions SNJ and SNJ-CGT against media concentration. The protest was supported by over 50 unions and civil society groups and thousands of individuals who signed-up a petition. Demonstrators joined in front of the Ministry of Culture to hand in an appeal to ‘cervaux non disponibles’ (non-available brains), referring to a quote of the General Manager of French media giant TF1, stating that his job consists in “selling available brain space to the Coca-Cola Company”.

See EFJ Website

Link to OFM



Swiss Media Company Ringier Plays Marketing Game in Hungary

RINGIER Publishing Group, the Swiss media company, decided to close one of Hungary’s most respected daily newspapers, Magyar Hirlap on 4 November, which involved more than 80 job cuts.

The Swiss publishers, who already own the largest circulation news daily, the centre-left Nepszabadsag, the tabloid Blikk and sports daily Nemzeti Sport as well as a number of other magazines, said they are closing the paper for “business reasons”. In its press release, the EFJ condemned the move saying it is evidence of how media concentration, extensive foreign ownership.

See EFJ Website


PUBLIC BROADCASTING NEWS


IFJ and NUJ Protest as BBC Plans to cut 2,900 Job

THE IFJ and the NUJ have severely condemned BBC plans to cut almost 3,000 jobs. The main concern is that these job cuts threaten the fabric of public service values and could have an impact on the quality of BBC programming. The BBC World Service, too, will be asked to make "significant savings" but it was not subject to the 15% cuts being applied to other departments.

This negative evolution takes place as a high-profile debate is taking place over the BBC Charter and its chief funding mechanism, the national license fee, which come up for renewal in 2007.

See PSB For All Website



Portuguese Authorities Talk About “Limited Freedom” for PSB Journalists

THE Portuguese government had declared in October 2004 that it intended to change media regulations and to replace the High Authority for Social Communication by a new regulatory body in absence of a public debate. At the same time, Mr. Morais Sarmento, the Minister responsible for media policy and spokesman of the Government said that public service broadcasters should only have a “limited freedom”. The Steering Committee of the EFJ adopted a resolution condemning these declarations.

See PSB For All Website


IFJ “Public Broadcasting for All” Campaign to Strengthen Activities in Europe in 2005

FOLLOWING the severe attacks on public broadcasting in Europe in 2004, and in a context of threats over media pluralism by continuous media concentration, the “Public Broadcasting for All” Campaign will reinforce its efforts in Europe, especially in terms of lobbying at EU level. The EFJ plans to hold a meeting with EU Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, Margot Wallström, in late January, where media policies will be on the agenda. Further activities will take place in the framework of the newly created Intergroup on media at the European Parliament (See “European Policy Briefing / European Parliament”). A meeting of the European members of the PSB Committee will take place in the first half of 2005.


AUTHORS’ RIGHTS NEWS


AREG Meeting Defines Priorities for 2005

THE EFJ Authors’ Rights Expert Group met on 11th December 2004 and discussed the position of the EFJ regarding the Rome II Regulation (law applicable to non contractual obligations) and the opportunity to refer to the country of origin principle (see European Policy Briefing).


Activities to be undertaken by AREG include a study on the various ways articles and photos are re-used as well as the difficulties faced by photographers when confronted with the right to privacy. AREG will focus its work on lobbying EU institutions mainly on the issues of rights’ management and ownership of authors’ rights.


An international AREG meeting will be organised before the IFJ Executive Committee meeting in June 2005.


During the last IFRRO (International Federation of Reproduction Rights) AGM in Singapore last October, the chair of AREG, Anne Louise Schelin, was elected on behalf of the IFJ to the IFRRO board for representing Creators’ Associate Members.

Swedish District Court condemns Illegal Publication on Online Database

In a ruling of 15th November 2004, the district court of Stockholm ordered the Swedish company Mediearkivet Svenska AB - which runs the on-line database www.mediearkivet.se available to users upon subscription, and which contains articles from Swedish newspapers and magazines – to pay a remuneration of 2.000 Swedish crowns (300 €) to the freelance journalist and writer Clas Thor for having illegally published/used two of his articles in their on-line-database for a time period of 6 and a half months.


The UK Patent office launches consultation on performers’ moral rights

FOLLOWING a first consultation run in 1999, the UK Government is considering the introduction of moral rights for performers in the United Kingdom’s legislation. The UK Patent office therefore launched a second consultation to seek all interested parties’ (performers, broadcasters, record producers…) views on the benefits and disadvantages of the legislation proposed to implement the WIPO Performance and Phonogram Treaty’s obligations on moral rights (ie, the right to be identified and to object distortion).

The closing date for responses is 18 March 2005.

For further information, please check: http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/consultations/moralrights/summary.htm



European Policy Briefing


EUROPEAN COMMISSION


Debate on “Rome II” Regulation and Impact on Defamation Law

The initial proposal from the European Commission, which shall be the basis for a future Community Instrument on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations, subjected defamation issues to the law of the country where the defamation arises. However this would not be the case in situations where the law of the competent jurisdiction (ie country where the defamation arises) would be contrary to the fundamental principles of the law of the country of origin of a journalistic work as regards freedom of expression and information. Media employers strongly rejected this first proposal. The European Parliament’s rapporteur Diana Wallis has already suggested an amendment to the original text but discussions are still on-going, and other MEPs will certainly put new amendments on the table. The European Council would not support a reference to the law of the country of origin to apply to defamations. As for the right of reply it would without much debate be subject to the law of the country in which the broadcaster or publisher has its habitual residence.


The EFJ Steering Committee is finalising its position on Rome II regarding defamation and the country of origin principle and a statement will be circulated before the end of January.


Draft EU Directive on Services in the Internal Market at a Critical Stage

The proposal for a "Directive on Services in the Internal Market" has been issued by the Commission in January 2004. The European Parliament organised a Public Hearing on 11 November. The EP is now drafting its report, which should be voted by the Internal Market Committee in April 2005. In the meantime, the Council of the Ministers and national governments are also having talks and negotiations on the same issue.


The EFJ Secretariat produced a draft EFJ position on the future directive, which will be sent to the EU institutions and to national governments.


The main concerns of the EFJ are:

- A horizontal Directive on services in all sectors fails to distinguish services of public interest, such as audiovisual and cultural services.

- The directive would define all those working as freelance journalists, irrespective of their actual status, as pure service provider whereas many freelances are economically dependant and have been forced out of full time staff employment.

- Providing free movement of services, such as broadcast programmes, will inevitably have consequences on the employees of a service provider, which operates in a number of countries. This could have an important impact on working conditions and threaten collective agreements, notably through a general application of the country of origin principle.


The EU Luxembourg presidency has undertaken to “re-examine this proposal in a more objective light by delimiting the scope of the directive and specifying the range of the principle of the country of origin within this context”.


The draft EFJ Position is available at the Secretariat, as well as a report of the Public Hearing at the European Parliament. More information on the Services Directive is available on the FAQ Webpage of the Commission:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/services/strategy/2004-propdir/200410-faq_en.htm


Commission President Barroso Speaks out for a “Modernised European Social Model”

ON 14 December, European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso told the European Parliament that “for Europe's Social Model to survive, the EU has to become economically more dynamic”. In the context of growing criticism against the proposal for a directive on services, Mr. Barroso said that he does “not think it is impossible to make the requirements of economic efficiency compatible with the concerns for social justice”. Unions are particularly critical about the reality of a “modernised” social model.


Social Dialogue in the Audiovisual Sector

The Plenary Meeting of the EU Social Dialogue in the Audiovisual Sector, in which the EFJ participates, took place in Brussels on 12 November. The discussions covered training; a study on industrial relations in the culture and media sector; and a sectoral “initiative on enlargement” including a study and a conference in one of the New Member States, either at the end of 2005 or in early 2006. A concrete draft proposal should be ready by 8 February to be presented to the next working group. The next plenary meeting will take place on 12 April.


Revision of EWC Directive. The European Commission has received comments from both the unions and the employers – obviously contradictory. Two seminars have been organised which have concluded that the Directive needs to be revised, however the Commission has not officially agreed to this. A tripartite meeting will take place in March between the Commission, the ETUC and the employers’ group UNICE, and a concrete outcome is expected for June 2005. The ETUC plans to send a letter to Vladimir Špidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in January, urging to proceed with a revision of the Directive.


Transposition of EU Directive on information and consultation rights (2002/14). So far, the UK, Poland, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Estonia have transposed the directive into national law. The other countries should follow.


All updates from the Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities DG are available in several languages at this address:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/newsletters/18_04_en.htm


EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The Intergroup on media of the European Parliament has been officially created, under the leadership of MEPs Lilli Gruber and Jean-Marie Cavada. The Intergroup will have two main functions. The first is to monitor the press and information for the EP on issues of high importance. The inter-group will be responsible for giving some fresh and neutral news coverage on current affairs in order to show that the Parliament holds opinions that can differ from those of the Commission and the Council. Secondly, the Intergroup should also monitor the European press in terms of democracy and pluralism while maintaining a particular focus on the balance between the private and the public media system.

The Secretariat of the Intergroup will be administered by Journalists @ Your Service, the Brussels media coalition, in which the EFJ plays an important role.

One of the first meetings should deal with media ownership and its impact on media independence and pluralism, with a particular focus on new member states, during the Plenary Session in February.


COUNCIL OF MINISTERS


Directive on cross-border mergers. The Council agreed on its politicak approach to the Directive on cross-border mergers, proposed by the Commission in November 2003. This measure will allow cross-border mergers, especially for small and medium sized companies in the EU. One of the main issues at stake in the Council discussion was the provision on employee participation. Employee participation in the newly created company will be subject to negotiations based on the model of the European Company Statute, which could lead to a loss or a reduction of employee participation. The ETUC and the Industry Federations including the EFJ will lobby the European Parliament to get more guarantees on employee participation.


Row over Working Time Directive

The Employment and Social Policy Council on 7 December failed to reach an agreement on the Working Time Directive. The main point of disagreement concerned the conditions of opt-outs from the maximum weekly working time of 48 hours. The proposal makes the opt-out subject to a collective agreement as well as individual agreement, stating that an individual agreement on its own would be acceptable only in the absence of a collective agreement and of employee representation empowered to conclude a collective agreement. The proposal also tightens record-keeping provisions and states that opt-outs should not be sought on the conclusion of the employment contract, nor during any probationary period. The social affairs Commissioner, Vladimir Spidla, expressed the hope that political agreement could be reached during the Luxembourg Presidency, which runs during the first six months of 2005. A first reading of the text in the EP is due in May 2005.

The EFJ is strongly against any opt-out rules.


COUNCIL OF EUROPE (COE)


Recommendation on the Right to Reply on the Internet.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has adopted in December a Recommendation on the right to reply in the new media environment.

The Recommendation urges Member States to extend the right to reply – which until now applied to the written press, radio and television – to online communication services providing information edited in a journalistic manner. The Recommendation specifically states that if contested information remains available to the public, and if a right to reply has been granted, a link should be established between the two items in order to draw users’ attention to the fact that the information has triggered a response. However the application will be complex since the text asks Member States to “examine and, if necessary, introduce in their domestic law or practice a right of reply or any other equivalent remedy, which allows a rapid correction of incorrect information in online or off-line media along the lines of the following minimum principles, without prejudice to the possibility to adjust their exercise to the particularities of each type of media”.

Full text: http://www.coe.int/T/E/Com/press/News/2004/rec(2004)16.asp


EUROPEAN TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION /EUROPEAN TRADE UNION COLLEGE

The ETUC Working Group on workers’ participation met in Brussels on December 16th and discussed the ETUC proposal to launch a “European Manifesto” for the defence of the European social model, and especially for workers’ participation, in early 2005. The Manifesto should cover four main points:

• The need to implement and respect current EU legislation;

• The need to defend information/consultation rights for workers in new legislation currently under preparation, which have been tailored for multinational companies and contain only a restricted part on workers’ participation;

• To strengthen the influence of unions on existing legislation, especially initiatives at national level, which need to be supported;

• The promotion of the participation of workers, in particular the role of workers in policies that are generally restricted to shareholders (investments, etc).


The European Trade Union College (ETUCO) proposes a training activity with the EFJ in 2005 entitled 'Networking for Journalists' Rights at Work in Europe'. The activity will consist of developing a regional network for union actions. The meeting will be open to 18 participants during 3 days with 3 languages (English, French, German).


Publications / Websites / Upcoming Meetings


The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has a complete online database on existing European Works Councils : www.ewcdb.org, as well as a CD-ROM containing most of the EWCs agreements. It also identifies companies falling under the scope of the EWC Directive, which did not yet set up EWCs (such as WAZ and Ringier). Once the EFJ project on “East meets West, Social Dialogue in the Media Sector” is finished, the EFJ we also have more information on EWCs in the media sector and will send it to the ETUI.


The Advisory Panel on media diversity of the Council of Europe has produced a report on Transnational Media Concentrations in Europe. This report was approved by the CDMM at its last meeting in November 2004:

www.coe.int/T/E/human_rights/media/



The European Institute for the Media has produced a study on ‘The information of the citizen in the EU: obligations for the media and the Institutions concerning the citizen’s right to be fully and objectively informed”. The study was prepared on behalf of the European Parliament. It should be available soon on the webpage of the EIM (www.eim.org). You may ask for an electronic copy at the EFJ Secretariat.


CALENDAR


JANUARY:

24 : FREG Meeting, Brussels


FEBRUARY:

3 : EFJ Steering Committee (Place to Confirm)

4-5 : EFJ SC Brainstorming (Place to Confirm)

18 : LAREG Meeting, Brussels


MARCH:

10-11 : Council of Europe Ministerial Conference ion Mass Media Policy, Kyiv

17 : Europe North-America Dialogue on Public Service Values in Media, Baltimore

18-19 : IFJ “Future Strategy” Meeting, Baltimore


APRIL:

1-3 : IFJ Conference on Media, War and Terrorism, Bilbao

4-5 : EFJ Annual Meeting, Bilbao

16: Authors’ Rights Expert Group, Brussels



Further Information:


Renate Schroeder

Tel: 32-2-235.22.15

Fax: 32-2-235.22.19

E-mail: Renate.Schroeder@ifj.org