Euronews is the bimonthly bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists, produced in the Secretariat in Brussels.
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EFJ Annual Meeting Debates Media and Quality in Bilbao
The EFJ Annual Meeting took place in Bilbao on 3-4 April, focusing on debates on media, quality and journalists’ rights in the presence of over 50 delegates of member unions and associations, leading figures including Mr. Candido Mendes, the President of the European Trade Union Confederation and representatives of media companies such as Mr. Stig Finslo the manager of Norwegian press company Orkla.
For the first time, representatives from Belarus and Ukraine participated in an EFJ Annual Meeting. Participants endorsed the Agenda for Change, a strategic document for EFJ member unions dealing with union rights, cultural diversity, public service values and quality journalism.
The Annual Meeting also adopted Resolutions available online.
EFJ Salutes Gustl Glattfelder
Former EFJ Chair and IFJ Senior Vice-President Gustl Glattfelder died of a heart attack on 24 May at the age of 65. Gustl was a distinguished radio journalist with a long career in German Regional Radio (Sudwestfunk). He became a member of the IFJ Executive Committee at Baia Chia, Italy, in 1990 and at the same time entered as the founding President of the EFJ. He was the Vice-President of his union, the Deutscher Journalisten Verband, since 1986. In honour of his commitment to international solidarity, his family is asking friends and relatives to give gifts to the IFJ Safety Fund. His funeral took place on 1 June in Baden-Baden.
Solidarity for BBC Members Strike in Opposition to Job, Budget Cuts
On 24 May, thousands of BBC staff voted to strike in opposition to the company's plans to cut jobs and slash budgets. In the vote, 83.9% of National Union of Journalists members at the BBC voted to strike. Members of two other BBC unions (the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union and Amicus, the manufacturing and technical workers' union) also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. A second round of strikes, planned for 31 May and 1 June, were suspended after talks at the conciliation service ACAS.
After 20 hours of negotiations with BBC management and separate face-to-face negotiations with Director General Mark Thompson, the BBC unions said they agreed to put the corporation's latest proposal to a meeting of representatives. The unions said management made significant concessions regarding privatisation but failed to address adequately concerns about job losses. They reserved the right to give notice of further strike action should the proposal be rejected by their representatives.
While BBC workers are angry about plans to cut 19% of the staff, or nearly 4000 jobs, they are also worried that if 80% of the staff must carry out 100% of the work with lower and lower budgets, quality will suffer.
A couple of weeks after the industrial action, the BBC announced that it would sell BBC Broadcast, its digital media subsidiary, for £166m to the Australian company Creative Broadcast Services. BBC Manager Mark Thompson said that the deal was subject to government approval and that it should be completed by the end of July.
EFJ Backs New Italian Strike for Fairness in Collective Agreements
On 16 June, leaders of the European Federation of Journalists at a meeting in Brussels backed a strike called for the following day by the Italian journalists’ federation, which was demanding a fair deal from employers who were resisting calls for new collective agreements.
The EFJ called on all of its members in Europe to support the general strike by the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana (FNSI), which was being called as talks reopened with groups of media employers in the press, broadcasting and news agency sectors.
The strike targeted negotiations with the Federation of Newspaper Publishers (Fieg), the association of broadcasters Aeranti-Corallo and the public agency Aran, who were resisting renewal of the collective agreements in their sectors. Journalists and media workers in all areas were affected: daily newspapers, press agencies, freelances, weeklies and broadcasters. Only short news programmes were broadcast on radio and television.
European Journalists Back Greek Unions in Battle over Defence of Rights of Media workers
The European Federation of Journalists on 28 June accused media employers in both the public and private sectors of making job cuts and engaging in management practices that are destroying quality journalism in Greece.
Months of unpaid wages in some newspapers, job cuts in official information services, the end of some work contracts in state media and threats to pension rights and social insurance across the industry are a sign of a profound crisis within Greek media, the EFJ said.
The EFJ responded to news that the press unions coordinating committee, which brings together 10 unions across the press, broadcasting and agency sectors, was planning to take common action to defend the rights of media workers in Greece.
Networking Journalists’ Rights Conference
On 27-28 May, the EFJ held a conference on journalists’ rights in Cyprus with the support of the European Trade Union Institute, the European Trade Union College and the Trade Union Technical Bureau. The objectives were to compare and analyse changes affecting terms and conditions for journalists in EU countries, to identify and compare good practices of social dialogue in represented countries and to set up a network with the aim to promote the participation of journalists in social dialogue at the national and European level. The meeting adopted conclusions with a particular focus on electronic networking and systems, priority issues for network of journalists’ unions and suggestions for further steps by the EFJ and its working groups.
Background documents and related resources are available on-line:
IFJ Launches Publication on Ethics, Self Regulation with Article 19
The IFJ and Article 19 launched the joint report “Freedom and Accountability – Safeguarding Free Expression through Media Self Regulation” at a meeting in Sarajevo on 28-29 June.
The report assesses the efforts to build self-regulatory bodies for media in South East Europe and reviews the different models that exist throughout Europe. It was endorsed by the participants, including representatives of journalists’ unions, media centres and NGOs from South East Europe.
The group identified poor working conditions as a crucial obstacle to improving professional standards. The participants agreed that they can support the improvement of conditions by ensuring that journalists and journalists unions are represented on self-regulatory bodies and by incorporating a clause of conscience into the code promoted by the self-regulatory body.
Upcoming Conference on Freelances’ Rights
The EFJ will organise a conference on “Empowering Freelances in Europe” and integrating them in social dialogue. It will be held in Bratislava on 23-24 September. The support of the European Commission and of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung will allow representatives of EFJ members from the EU but also from South-Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union to debate the increasingly difficult situation of freelance journalists. The aims of the conference will be to elaborate a common strategy, to update the 2003 survey of Freelances in Europe and to present the upcoming Freelance Charter.
Italy : OSCE Says New Legislation Insufficient to Curb Media Concentration
On 7 June, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti released a report stating that the new Italian media legislation introduced in 2004 had not significantly altered the unusually high concentration of ownership in the country's television industry. The report says “the Gasparri Law will not be able to remedy the 'Italian anomaly' and de-monopolise television any time soon." The “Gasparri” law on communications has been widely criticised by national and international groups (FNSI, IFJ, OSCE, etc) because, among other things, the text foresees a partial privatisation of public broadcaster RAI and the reforming of the Management Board of RAI to allow representatives of the private shareholders to sit at this board.
France: According to «Commissariat general du Plan», Future of French Media Is Under Threat
On 22 June, the French Commissariat général du Plan (the state institution in charge of economic and social prospective) issued a report calling on public authorities to safeguard the quality and pluralism of the media. Recommendations include that electronic media be regulated by various tools in addition to the Broadcasting council (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel) in order to follow the modernisation of information sources and to reinforce the training of journalists.
It further suggests the creation of a « public information pole », which implies a « radical » transformation of Agence France Presse and the development of partnerships between press agencies.
The report insists on quality in the media rather than on quantity, with less advertising sources of funding for public broadcasters and a higher viewers’ fee. It also expresses concerns over the risk of concentration in the production area. It concludes that unless there is a reaction by public authorities, “independence, ethics and creativity [may] disappear from the media landscape” in the coming decade.
The Times has announced on 4 July the launch of a new international edition printed in Charleroi, Marseilles and Madrid. According to the Times editor Robert Thomson, “The launch of The Times International Edition is an important step in the global development of the paper”.
The “News Outdoor”, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch, has bought 60 percent of shares in Turkish company Kamera Reklam's (Camera Advertisement), a company synonymous with stadium advertising in Turkey.
On 1 July, RTL Group bought a 30% stake in the Russian broadcaster Ren-TV. According to REN-TV's two co-founders and chief executives, Irena and Dmitry Lesnevsky, RTL was chosen for its “competence, reputation, expertise and huge potential” that could “open up new possibilities for the channel's development."
The German publisher Springer attempts to increase its 12% stake in private television ProSieben Sat.1, whose majority owner is the U.S. media billionaire Haim Saban. Source: http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticleSearch.aspx?storyID=151377+04-Jul-2005+RTRS&srch=Media
IFJ Meeting on PSB in Rome
In the context of the implementation of the “Gasparri” law, the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana organised various activities including a conference on ”PSB in Italy and in Europe” on 3 June with the participation of John Barsby (NUJ), Alfonso Diez (RTE, Spanish broadcaster), members of the European Parliament and a representative of the Media Task Force of the European Commission. A strike took place at RAI on 4 June, asking for “credible” governing bodies for RAI.
Broadcasting Law Crisis in Slovenia
On 25 April, the Slovenian government proposed a new broadcasting law, which would replace an existing law that had been considered a model for other post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The proposal facilitates political appointments, provides more authority over senior editorial jobs and opens the door to more political influence by increasing the power of the National Assembly in appointments to the Programming Council and the Supervisory Council. The changes were published without any consultation of professional organizations or civil society groups and were supposed to be adopted through an “urgency procedure” without further consultation.
The EFJ protested by writing a letter to the Minister of Culture, which was widely commented on by the media and civil society groups. On 13 May, representatives of the EBU and the Council of Europe met with Slovenian authorities and on 16 May EFJ General Secretary Aidan White met with the President of the Republic of Slovenia. Although the law was adopted by the lower House of the Parliament on 24 June, the upper House (National Council) vetoed the text on 29 June. The opposition announced that it wishes to submit the initiative to a public referendum, probably scheduled for early September.
First BREG Meeting
The newly created Broadcasting expert group of the European Federation of Journalists (BREG) held its first meeting on 10 June in Brussels. The working programme of the EFJ in the broadcasting sector will focus on continuing or reinforcing the campaign around the BBC (revision of the charter and restructurings) and RAI, as well as reinforcing the lobbying of European institutions for the defense of journalists’ rights.
Spanish PSB on Way to Reform
Following the crisis of the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, which was accused of political bias during the previous government and which accumulated a debt of € 723 millions in 2004, the Council of Ministers officially launched the reform process on 24 June. The project was drafted by a committee that included a representative of journalists.
RTVE will be transformed into a public corporation on the model of the BBC. A management board, composed of six members nominated by the Parliament and 2 members nominated by the union, will nominate the general manager. The financing will come from a state grant and from advertising (around 40%). The reform also includes the creation of a broadcasting council.
“CNN à la française” on Track
Despite the opposition of the unions and several civil society groups, the governments’ plan for a “French CNN” (Chaîne Française Internationale d’Information, “CFII”) has been approved by the competition service of the European Commission. Unions were opposed to the current project because CFII is a joint venture between the public broadcaster France Televisions and the private channel TF1, making it a private company partly financed by public fee: the “worst solution” according to the unions. However, according to the Commission, the project is “compatible with the single market as a project financing a service of general economic interest”. Another disputed aspect of the project is that the channel will not be seen in France. Opponents of the project say that TF1 did not want a new competitor to its leading national news channel LCI. The government will provide 30 million euro in 2005 to give the channel a starting thrust, but the project is to have an annual budget of 70 million euro from 2006 on.
AUTHORS’ RIGHTS NEWS
AREG Finalizes Authors’ Rights Pamphlet
At its meeting on 16 April, AREG finalized an authors’ rights pamphlet to be used primarily for lobbying European policy makers. The pamphlet has been submitted to the EFJ steering committee for final comments. AREG EU work focuses on collective management of authors’ rights and the group has been in contact with European Commission representatives to explain the EFJ position on this matter. AREG hopes to organise an international AREG meeting involving members of the IFJ Executive Committee at the next Executive Committee meeting.
The next AREG meeting will take place on 17 September in Vienna, Austria, and EFJ union representatives from neighboring countries will be invited to attend.
EC Study Says New Structures Needed for Licensing Music for Internet
Following a first Communication on Management of Copyright and Related Rights, the European Commission released a study on how copyright for musical works is licensed for use on the Internet. It concludes that entirely new structures for cross-border collective management of copyrights are required. The most effective model for achieving this, the study says, is to enable right-holders to authorise a collecting society of their choice to manage their works across the entire EU. Initially this should just apply to musical works but could be extended to other works like online media. Comments on the study can be sent to the European Commission by 28 July. The Commission hopes to release its chosen policy approach “not later than October 2005”.
In a response to the Commission’s communication, the EFJ stressed the need to clarify the initial allocation of ownership of authors’ rights--which should be vested in the authors-- prior to any harmonisation on rights management. So far, no harmonisation exists in the EU regarding transfer of rights and equitable remuneration. The International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) released its own study in June to show that reprography could not be handled in the same way as music licensing.
EFJ, Portuguese Union to Organise Seminar on Authors’ Rights, Collective Management in Europe
Following EU developments in the field of collective management, the EFJ and the Portuguese union of journalists will organise a two-day seminar in Lisbon addressing ownership of authors’ rights and collective management. The seminar—to take place on 6-7 November-- will include both general discussions on authors’ rights ownership and management as well as targeted and practical workshops. This seminar is part of an EU funded project, which also has aims to update the 1997 EFJ study on collecting systems for authors’ rights in Europe.
EFJ affiliates are welcome to send one representative to the seminar.
Seminar on Women Sets Guidelines to Strengthen Gender Equality in Unions, Media Organisations
On 27-29 May, the EFJ and the Cyprus journalists’ union held a two and a half day seminar in Cyprus on women journalists in the European integration process. It brought together 30 participants from 22 unions and addressed issues such as female leadership in unions and the media, the portrayal of women in the media and the challenges and impact of globalisation on women’s working conditions. Most participants sent national reports in advance describing the situation in their countries.
The seminar ended with the adoption of a declaration, a resolution calling on the release of Florence Aubenas and her interpreter and some guidelines for actions to be used when necessary to strengthen gender equality within unions and media organisations.
A survey on women journalists’ in the European integration process will follow.
All information and results of the seminar are available on the EFJ Website.
EUROPEAN POLICY BRIEFING
EFJ Delegation meets with Commissioner Reding…
On 19 May, an EFJ delegation met with the EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding and with Christophe Forax, Member of the Cabinet responsible for media content. This meeting was aimed at presenting to Ms. Reding the main concerns of the EFJ in the framework of the latest developments of media policies and journalism issues in the EU.
The main points on the agenda were authors’ rights, media concentration, code of conduct for European journalists, the revision of the television without frontiers directive and the situation of freelancers.
Ms. Reding said that her responsibilities are strictly limited by the Treaty following the principle of subsidiarity for the cultural policies. She announced that the Commission plans to launch a campaign against piracy but that there is no legal basis for the EC to act on media ownership. Ms. Reding was concerned about the situation of freelancers and she encouraged the EFJ to work closely with DG Social Affaires on this issue.
The EFJ delegation also talked about the work of the Media Task Force that was set-up by the Commission earlier this year and about the possible future cooperation of the EFJ with this body.
…and Ms Reding presents priorities of the Commission for the revision of the TWF Directive
At the end of May, Ms. Reding presented the priorities of the Commission for the revision of the TWF directive during a conference organised by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU. She confirmed that the elements for the definition of “audiovisual content services” would be “services as defined by the treaty (Art 49) for the delivery of moving images combined with sound, to the general public, by electronic networks”.
More information: www.tvsf.eu2005.lu/fr/content/documents.html
Conference with Commissioner Wallström
On 24 May, the Journalists @ Your Service center (J@YS) organised a conference with Commissioner Wallström on the communication strategy of the EU. During the meeting, Ms Wallström recognized that there is too much institutional information but not enough communication coming from the institutions and in particular from the Commission. She said that the strategy would focus on targeting broadcast media and on national and local audiences, since in the public opinion the European agenda is mostly linked to domestic issues. Several interventions made by the audience underlined the need for a balance between professional staff dealing with communication issues within the EU institutions and the risk of developing “political spinning”.
Commission presents UNESCO Drafts Convention for Protecting Diversity of Cultural Expression
The European Commission organised a special meeting to present the preliminary draft convention on protecting and promoting diverse cultural expressions by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. For the first time the Commission negotiated on behalf of member states.
While the convention’s provisions include recognizing the importance of media diversity, public broadcasting and intellectual property rights, it does not have the support of all the members of the organization and will not affect either the rules of the World Trade Organization or European Community law. It is up to individual countries to adopt and comply with its provisions.
After discussions, UNESCO expects to formally adopt the convention during the General meeting in October.
Public Hearing on Pluralism and Media Concentration calls for More EU Policies:
On 7 April, the European Socialist Group organised a hearing on media concentration in Europe. EFJ General Secretary Aidan White was among the main speakers, and the Group decided to launch a “one-million-signature campaign to secure new European laws on the media under provisions in the European Constitution”.
Upcoming Activities of the Press, Communication and Freedom Intergroup: The meeting with the heads of public broadcasters, due to take place in July, has been postponed until September. Meetings with representatives of private broadcasters and professional organisations are due to take place before October. The current objective of the Chairs of the Intergroup (Mr. Cavada and Ms. Gruber) is to put forward proposals for media policies in view of the revision of the TWF Directive (see below).
Adoption of Report on Application of the “TWF Directive”: Henri Weber (ESP, France) presented an initiative report that underlines the differences on interpretation of the Television Without Frontiers Directive among member states and also the lack of information to evaluate the situation, especially in new member states. The report proposes to « prevent the development of a two-speed audiovisual sector ». It proposes also to create a European Charter for public service broadcasting as well as a European Year of Media and Broadcasting. In the recommendations, the report underlines the importance of pluralism and the threat of media concentration. It urges for better anti-trust rules and an EU policy for pluralism.
The report will be adopted by the plenary session on 6 September.
Adoption of Report on Information and Communication Strategy : The report of Mr. Herrero-Tejedor was adopted during the plenary session of 12 May. Among its proposals is one that the communication of the EU institutions should be more decentralized in member states according to domestic cultures, traditions and languages. It also emphasizes the importance of broadcast media to report on EU issues and proposes to develop fictional or non-news programmes to deal with Europe. Another proposal is the creation of a “European center of excellence” for communication and a better coordination within the European institutions.
Parliament Asks for Strong Amendements to Draft Directive on Services: After hectic debates and intense lobbying campaigns around the draft “Services” directive, the Council of Ministers –and especially France and Germany- pushed for less controversial sectors to be covered by the text, such as audiovisual.
The EP rapporteur Evelyne Gebhardt (ESP, Socialist) put forward several points to reduce the fear of social dumping: Service providers would have to comply with the host country's rules on contracts, consumer protection, environmental protection and labour law.
The European Parliament Positively Amends the Proposal for a Regulation on the Law Applicable to non-contractual Obligations (“Rome II”) :
Following intense lobbying efforts from media organisations, the EFJ and its unions, the European Parliament adopted MEP Diana Wallis (ALDE, UK) ’s final report, which amends the Rome II proposal of the European Commission. The changes mean that claims for infringement of privacy and rights relating to the personality --in case of cross border violations-- will be governed by the laws of the country to “which the publication or broadcasting service is principally directed.” If this is not obvious, the law of the country “in which editorial control is exercised” shall apply.
As it stands, the adopted text is a real step forward for giving more legal certainty to journalists carrying on their activities within the EU. It is a big departure from the initial proposal of the European Commission, which said the laws of the country of the victim of a privacy violation would apply.
The adopted text will now be submitted to the European Council as part of the co-decision procedure. EU member states’ positions are far from being unified on this issue and a serious lobbying effort will be needed.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
UK presidency: During a meeting hosted by the European Trade Union Confederation, a representative of the UK presented the priorities for the Presidency (second half of 2005):
- “Services directive”: about 80% of the articles of the draft directive have been redrafted by the Luxembourg Presidency, but the most problematic areas remain and the UK President is trying to bring a "solution," which does not mean "adoption." The main issues that the UK Presidency wants to tackle are:
i) the clarity of the text
ii) the interaction with labour laws (i.e. collective bargaining and the "Posting" Directive)
iii) the areas of "general economic interest" where few sectors such as the audiovisual services and notaries are "likely" to be excluded from the scope of the directive
iv) the exclusion of other specific sectors
v) the principle of country of origin (PCO) which is still the most uncertain part.
- Working time directive: a majority of members of the Council are in favour of a status quo for the present "opt-out" situation, including in the UK. This would be a basic consensus between the end of the opt-out as proposed by the European Parliament and the extension of the opt-out proposed by some countries.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE (COE)
The first meeting of the Group of Specialists on Public Broadcasting in the Information Society took place in Strasbourg on 2-3 May 2005. The group examined various documents including a preliminary draft study by a consultant of the Council of Europe on “how the public service remit should be developed and adapted to suit the Information Society”. This document will be commented on and updated before the next meeting in November.
EUROPEAN TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION
The ETUC produced a memorandum on the UK Presidency underlining the main current concern of the European unions movement ( ). During its meeting on 10 June, the Collective Bargaining Committee of the ETUC discussed several studies on recent trends such as the changes in CBA since 1990. More information is available on this issue at the EFJ Secretariat or directly at the ETUC.
Publications / Websites / Upcoming Meetings
The Open Society Institute’s EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program (EUMAP), is monitoring media regulation, policy and independence in 20 European countries.
17: AREG Meeting, Vienna
23-24: Conference on “Empowering Freelances”, Bratislava
4 : Legal Network Meeting, Brussels
7-8 : LAREG Meeting & seminar on collective agreements, Berlin
8-9: EFJ Steering Committee, Berlin
17: FREG Meeting, Brussels
29-30: Meeting on “Ownership and Authors’ Rights”, Lisboa
Euronews…10 years ago:
July 1995: In its motion for a resolution on media concentration, June 12, 1995, the European Parliament asks the Commission to immediately submit proposals with the view "to establishing a European legislative framework to strengthen and coordinate the legislative measures adopted by the Member states". It further stresses the need for a public service in the audiovisual sector. The motion further addresses the need for guaranteeing the "independence and good working conditions for journalists".
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Responsible: Marc Gruber
European Federation of Journalists
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