EFJ Urges European Politicians to Take Lessons from Hacking Scandal in Great Britain

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today welcomed David Cameron, the British Prime Minister's call for a new, independent media regulator to ensure quality and pluralism in the British media.

What started on the British isle as a scandal of the News of the World, has developed into the biggest media scandal of the post-war era. The phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, revealed corrupted police men and the cosy relationship between politicians, police and the media. It created an unprecedented crisis in British  politics and shaked the foundation of  quality journalism.  

"We welcome this long, overdue commitment from the British Government to regulate media moguls and restore public trust in journalism together with the professional organisations in Great Britain", said Arne König, EFJ President.

"This Murdoch-gate could not better highlight the need for two major objectives: first, we have all looked for too long into media moguls dominating and influencing public life in Europe and thereby damaging democracy and journalism. We need urgently a European regulation on media concentration," said König. "Secondly, this scandal highlights the need for a commitment to ethical journalism and a ‘conscience clause' to protect journalists from ruthless employers.

Last week, the National Journalists' Union (NUJ), the EFJ affiliate in the UK, had an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of the hacking scandal after the closure of the News of the World. Michelle Stanistreet, the NUJ General Secretary called for support of a conscience clause recognised by law to protect journalists from editorial pressure to slant their stories to reflect the wishes of proprietors.

These developments will also have a far-reaching impact on the media in Europe and across the globe. With the question of media plurality being once again pushed to the forefront of public debate, global corporate media ownership may be weakened and more diversity could be ushered in provided that it seizes the opportunity to promote a new discussion about journalism as a public good.

Under heavy pressure from the public and politicians in Britain, Murdoch has to drop his bid to buy full control of the country's highly profitable commercial TV operator BskyB.

The EFJ represents more than 250.000 members in over 30 countries.