Bulletin of the European Federation of Journalists
Authors' Rights News
European Policy Briefing
EFJ Steering Committee agrees on next Annual Meeting in Lisbon
THE Steering Committee welcomed the offer by the Portuguese Union of Journalists to host the next Annual Meeting in Lisbon on May 22-23, 2003. At its last meeting in Brussels on December 8, the Steering Committee agreed to organize a seminar with the possible support of the European Commission a day prior to the AGM focusing on the situation of journalism in the accession countries one year prior to its admission. The next Steering Committee meeting will take place on March 9 followed by a meeting with the chairs of the EFJ experts groups in order to discuss a coherent strategy regarding globalisation and to review the work by the expert groups.
The meeting also discussed the International News Safety Institute welcoming its objectives and stressing the need for a sound financial policy. A meeting with member unions, employer organizations and press freedom groups had taken place on November 29 to discuss a working programme. The institute will promote practical actions and foster good practice in the provision of safety training, materials and assistance to journalists and media staff.
Survey on Media Concentration extended to Central and Eastern Europe
WITH the help of Adrian Collin, who worked for three months as intern at the EFJ/IFJ, the EFJ completed the study on media ownership in Europe with a special report on European media investments in Central and Eastern Europe. Practically, the media situation of almost all the countries in the region has been analysed and reported. The overview includes the foreign ownership analysis of the different types of media (TV, radio, press, internet) in Bulgaria, Rumania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, the former Yugoslavia: Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia as well as the Baltic Region including Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
With no surprise, the fall of the Iron curtain is the turning point of the changes that have been under way in the Central European media landscape since 1989. Big European companies have invested enormous amounts of money in order to secure their dominant place in an emerging 125 millions habitants market. In Central Europe, the investors are mostly from Germany, Switzerland and Scandinavia but French, British or Austrian companies have also interests in that region.
The EFJ Media Ownership Report is now available on the IFJ/EFJ web site in html-form: www.ifj.org/publications/download/mediaownership/
It contains links and it is presented in a sort of database. A section on links and resources related to globalisation and media ownership has been created, and anyone who has information to add is welcome to contact the IFJ webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Swedish Union of Journalists Puts EU Decision on Openness to the Test
EASIER searching, decent and correct treatment - but no break-through for openness. That's the conclusion of a test of the today one-year-old EU rules on access to official documents, carried out by the Swedish Union of Journalists. "This test shows that unfortunately our fears have come true - political considerations determine which documents will be handed over, not concrete rules that authorities as well as citizens can comply with. This attitude is a breeding ground for arbitrariness", says Agneta Lindblom Hulthén, President of the Swedish Union of Journalists. The Swedish Union of Journalists published a report 'A more open EU' with the results of their test cases, which is available in English and French on the EFJ website. In its conclusion it says, among others, that 'the risks that the regulation on public access will be subordinated to the Council's security rules (Solana coup) have been confirmed.' This will give ground for the EFJ to continue its campaign on more transparency at EU level.
EFJ welcomes Commission's Decision to Review Article on Defamation at Rome II Procedure
AT the hearing organised by the European Commission on a future regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II initiative) on January 7, the EFJ along with media organisations called on the Commission to withdraw Article 7 dealing with defamation law in its current form. This article determines the law applicable to defamation in cross-border cases by choosing the law of the country of the 'victim'. The EFJ expressed in its statement that it is firmly opposed to this principle. In its introductory remarks the Commission said that the intention had been to give more judicial security to the press but after several interventions by media organisations, the Commission admitted that more analysis had to be done in this area and that their premise had not been correct. The European Newspaper Association (ENPA) provided an in-depth study by Professor Kadner-Graziano from the University of Geneva about defamation law and the press sector saying that in all EU countries but Austria the country of origin existed. As the EFJ, all media organisations stressed that the country of origin principle would be the best to be applied, since otherwise 'legal confusion', professional uncertainty and a degree of protective "self-censorship" would undermine the public's right to know.
Changes in the Media Industry: European Monitoring Centre for Change (EMCC) Workshop
EUROPEAN Officer Renate Schroeder participated on behalf of the EFJ in the workshop on ICT and change in the media and graphics industry organised by the European Monitoring Centre for Change in Brussels on December 17-18, 2002.
The European Officer drew the meeting's attention to the problem of media concentration by presenting the report on European Media Ownership and its consequences on the explosion of freelances, questions relating to quality and pluralism. She said that the current situation in the media was worrying for different reasons: the precariousness in working conditions, the increase of freelances and forced-lances, the increase of dismissals and the loss in quality due to commercialising, time pressure and increasing dependence on advertisement revenues.
The conclusions of the workshop were the following:
Unions should have an active role in terms of facilitating or providing training;
Criteria for "quality management" should be better defined;
Freelance and "forced-lances" issues should be better integrated in social policies;
Authors' rights, especially of freelances, are paramount for the 'economical survival of freelances; a subject to be discussed in the European Social Dialogue;
The subject of socially responsible outsourcing should also be discussed in Social Dialogue at European level;
There is a strong role for public service oriented policy in terms of content, training and professional profiles;
There should be a European approach respecting the differences between South, North, West and East instead of trying to badly imitate the 'American model;
Since Corporate Social Responsibility is not applied in the media sector, some major media companies, such as Bertelsmann, should be challenged to integrate corporate social responsibility in their human resources and environmental policy.
"Moment of Truth" for Press Freedom in Italy as Journalists Warn of Threat to Newspapers
THE EFJ called on political leaders in Italy and the European Union to confront the growing media crisis in Italy following an appeal by journalists' leaders at Corriere Della Sera, the country's biggest-selling daily, for action to protect editorial independence at the paper. The EFJ was concerned that changes would take place that may mean Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his media empire might have influence over the newspaper. The EFJ supported the journalists and the EFJ affiliate, the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa Italiana, which also demanded assurances regarding editorial independence.
The FNSI also organised a general strike by journalists on December 20th and called for a summit meeting with publishers to mobilise the industry in defence of pluralism and press freedom. It was the first time that besides journalists working for print, radio and television also journalists working in public administration went on strike. The objectives of the strike were to demand the application of the law of communication and institutional information (150/2000). The law sets rules for journalists and press officers working in public administration. The FNSI urged the publishers to respect the national contact that had been signed at the beginning of the year. Negotiations for the contract of journalists in the public administration have finally started.
IFJ Welcomes Breakthrough for Journalists in War Crimes Tribunal Test Case
THE IFJ and EFJ welcomed the decision at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to uphold an appeal by war correspondent Jonathan Randal who refused an order to testify in a war crimes case on December 11. "This decision sets a standard for justice that respects journalistic independence and the principles of press freedom," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, which had submitted a statement to the court in support of Mr. Randal's appeal.
EFJ will Launch New Freelance Study this Year
WITH the financial support of the European Commission, the EFJ and its Freelance Expert Group and two national labour research institutes will produce an updated survey on the social and legal situation of so-called 'economically dependent journalists as well as freelance journalists. Proposals for social protection schemes or legislation at company, national and - if possible - European level shall be elaborated and discussed at a conference in September 2003. The preparatory meeting will take place at the EFJ/IFJ office in Brussels on January 20.
EFJ Concerned about Effect of Increasing Number of Redundancies on Quality of Reporting and Media Pluralism
EFJ member unions all over Europe are concerned that quality of reporting and media pluralism may suffer because of the massive redundancies taking place in the media sector. In Germany about 10.000 journalists have been without work by the end of 2002 according to the DJV.
News staffs can be cut too deeply, according to Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at the Poynter Institute. The proof of this is in Spain, where understaffing seriously affects the quality of journalism - a lesson that should be heeded by media in other countries, according to Clark. "Stories are reported over the telephone or by watching television coverage," he wrote after conducting five days of seminars for 150 Spanish journalists. "The writing tends to be hidebound, without a sense of a reporter's presence. A single editorial worker may be responsible for three or four stories per day, as well as page production. The practice of journalism - reporting, writing, and editing - gives way to feeding the production beast through "auto-pagination". Moreover, younger reporters have developed great skill at what one veteran Spanish journalist called "piracy," cutting and pasting bits of content from many unaccredited Web sources to form a story under their own by-line. Journalists at the seminar also blamed tight-fisted media owners for not dispatching reporters to cover important stories, such as the war in Afghanistan or the recent oil spill threatening Spain's own coastline. Shortage of reporting resources can be found all over Europe.
EFJ Condemns Poland Over "Political Pressure and Robber Barons" in Media
THE EFJ accused Poland over media conditions in which "corporate robber barons and political interests" are putting intolerable pressure on media freedom and rights of media staff on December 11. Desperate journalists at the daily newspaper Zycie went on strike because they have not been paid for several months and a few days later the owners decided the close the newspaper. "This is wild west behaviour, which is not suitable for a modern democracy in Europe," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chair of the EFJ.
Journalists and free-speech advocates expressed outrage about a draft law that would make publishing comments deemed to be biased or offensive to Romania a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. A draft law said publishing material "offending to the Romanian nation" would be punishable by two to five years in prison. Publication of "untrue or biased news abroad that injures the interests and honour of the nation" would result in the same punishment according to the draft. Libel already is a prisonable offence in Romania, but the country currently has no law against comments considered to offend the country.
Journalists Give Backing to Strike in Portugal over "Draconian" Plans to Change Labour Law
THE EFJ Steering Committee gave support to journalists and media workers in Portugal who joined an all-out general strike in the country in protest over government plans to amend the law in ways they say will seriously weaken labour rights. "The journalists and media workers of Portugal rightly believe that quality of journalism will suffer if working conditions in media are downgraded," said Gustl Glattfelder, Chairman of the EFJ. "This strike is about preserving the fundamental rights of all workers, but has a special significance for press freedom and quality journalism." Under the proposed changes, employers would have more freedom to sack workers and to make them redundant. They will also be able to ignore labour tribunal decisions that recommend reinstatement of workers who are unfairly dismissed.
The Greek journalists' union JUADN has written to their colleagues in Portugal to support their protest in defence of labour rights. According to JUADN, the fight in Portugal is important for workers all over Europe and worldwide, as their rights are challenged in the same way in many countries.
German magazine journalists get increased salaries
After three rounds of negotiations with the magazine publishers' association, both German EFJ affiliates, the DJV and Ver.di negotiated a 2.3% salary increase for journalists in the magazine sector, which was a positive outcome in times of economical crisis. Meanwhile the unions have been negotiating for several weeks to get an agreement in the newspaper sector, which proves to be much more difficult.
IFJ Calls on European Union to Protect Public Broadcasting as Pressure Mounts
THE IFJ and the EFJ called on the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi to put the defence of public service broadcasting higher on the European Union agenda as attacks on public networks have increased. "In a number of European Union states public broadcasting has come under intolerable pressure and it is vital that the European Union restates its long-established commitment to public service values in media," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. The intervention followed a three-week strike by more than 1,200 journalists at France Television and Radio France concerned over the future financing and organisation of public television and radio. The strike was supported by the French EFJ affiliates (SNJ, FO, CFDT and CGT). At the same time, the IFJ/EFJ has drawn attention to growing pressure on public broadcasting in Portugal, Spain and Denmark where unions have expressed concern over future broadcasting policy.
"In Europe there is a growing unease among unions of journalists and other broadcasting staff over contradictions in government policy and public broadcasting, " said Aidan White, in the letter to Mr Prodi.
EFJ Encourages French Debate over Public Broadcasting in the Constitution
THE French Minister for Culture, Jean-Jacques Aillagon had requested Catherine Clément, a French writer, to carry out a mission on culture and public television. The report issued by Catherine Clément calls for the introduction of a special provision on audiovisual public service in the French constitution. "The organisation of audiovisual public service is a duty for the State", she proposed. Catherine Clément called for the maintenance of public service as a whole, opposing any privatisation of French public channels. She based her thoughts on a need for cultural quality that should be introduced in French public channels. The report ends by asking the French President Jacques Chirac to grant sufficient funds to the Ministry for Culture.
EUROPEAN AUTHORS' RIGHTS' NEWS
The EU Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Directive has not been Implemented on Time by Member States
The EU Directive on copyright and neighboring rights in the information society was to be implemented by Member States by 22nd December 2002. For the time being, only Denmark and Greece have complied with the deadline set by the Directive. The European Commission still hopes that 9 other Member States would transpose the Directive by April 2003. The European Commission has sent comments on the implementing process to late Member States in order to outline the possible misinterpretation of the Directive contained in their drafts. The EFJ is closely following the implementation process which could give rise to a fair amount of lobbying on the publishers' side in order to introduce complete assignment of authors' rights to employers (France) or presumption of assignment of rights (Belgium), thus both misinterpreting the Directive and challenging the very content of the Berne Convention.
The Authors' Rights Expert Group (AREG) considers the German law on authors' rights as model to follow. In fact, the future law provides that any agreement granting exploitation rights for as yet unknown types of use has no legal effect. Moreover, the German law states that authors are given a statutory right to claim equitable remuneration, which cannot be waived or assigned in advance.
Right holders working group on Digital Rights Management (DRM), Brussels, 25th November 2002
The authors rights campaign coordinator took part in the DRM workshop organised by right holders and DG Information Society of the European Commission. The debate focused on the workability of DRM in order to best struggle piracy and collect fees on behalf of right holders. For the time being, the workability of DRM is not complete. Some DRM, for instance, do only run on PCs and do not allow transfer from PC to other portable devices. While questioning the workability of DRM, right holders stressed the need to provide for an international standard for DRM and called for an improvement of the current DRM protection. The European Commission should issue a Communication on rights management in 2003. A larger workshop will be held in Brussels in February 2003.
Council Regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II)
On 7th January 2003, the European Commission held a hearing on the Rome II Regulation proposal, which aims at harmonising the law applicable to non-contractual disputes in the EU. The European Commission addressed the opportunity for Intellectual Property (IP) issues to be carved out of the future Regulation. For the time being, IP are still included within the scope of the future instrument. The Regulation would therefore call for the law of the country where the loss is suffered to apply.
A few right holders expressed the need to include IP rights in the text. The Commission suggested adding a specific provision on authors' rights, calling for the application of the law where the protection is sought in line with the provisions of the Berne Convention.
The European Commission encouraged further inputs on this specific matter.
WIPO Treaty on the protection of broadcasting organisations
Since the beginning of WIPO discussions on a possible treaty for the protection of broadcasting organisations, right holders have feared that the future international instrument, adapting the Rome Convention dated 1961, could challenge authors' rights and neighbouring rights. Numerous "corridor discussions" took place between right holders during the last WIPO session on broadcasting organisation in November 2002. The extensive protection granted to broadcasting organisations by the US Treaty proposal was thus highly criticized. The EFJ joined the right holders' coalition's discussions which mainly focus on restricting the scope of the future Treaty to the protection of broadcasting signals - as opposed to their content - and on minimum rights to be granted to traditional broadcasters. The next WIPO discussions on the future of the broadcasting Treaty will take place in June 2003.
EUROPEAN POLICY BRIEFING
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
The Council adopted on December 3 the Market Abuse Directive. The Commission now will have to prepare the final legal text taking into account the Committee of European Security Regulators (CESR's) implementation proposals.
On a proposal from Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for culture and audiovisual affairs, the College of the Commission adopted a report on the application of the 'Television without Frontiers' directive, together with a working programme aimed at reviewing the Directive. The working programme will deal in particular with matters such as access to events of major importance to society, the promotion of cultural diversity, television advertisement and the protection of minors. One of the questions relates to the right of reply and whether it should extended to media other than that of television. The working programme will be implemented by means of public consultations in the Member States and the candidate countries.
At its plenary session on November 18, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on media concentration. It calls among other things on the Commission to draw up an updated Green Paper by the end of 2003 on media concentration, to complete the examination of the political, economic and legal implications of a European-level regulatory framework, or the other regulatory options, such as a directive to safeguard freedom of expression and pluralism in the media and to preserve cultural diversity. It further calls on the Commission to submit to the Convention on the Future of Europe an appropriate proposal so that the principle of freedom in the media may be given a stronger basis in the Treaty.
The too long overdue resolution of the European Parliament is generally a positive sign and a benchmark, but the amendments submitted by the Greens/EFA group have all been blocked by a PPE/ELDR (Conservatives/Liberals) majority. One amendment regarding the separation of political mandate and control over a media enterprise was voted against.
The Report on temporary agency workers by Ieke Van den Burgh was adopted in the Plenary Session on November 21. The directive, the most controversial piece of employment legislation to come out of Brussels in recent years, would give temps the same pay and conditions as full-time workers. The European Commission proposed that the rights should apply after six weeks, but members of the European Parliament voted for an amendment that would extend full pay and conditions to temps on their first day at work.
The European Parliament adopted the amendments represented in the report on health and safety of self-employed of Manuel Pérez Alvarez, which go further than the Commission's proposal. The revised text would thus apply to all self-employed, irrespective of whether they work alone or with employees in a firm belonging to the self-employed worker or to another person. In subcontracting relationships, MEPs voted in favour of health and safety matters covered by effective provisions. Included are further the respective obligations of self-employed workers and the contracting undertaking to be laid down. The EP called for binding measures to be presented by the Commission, if the measures taken by the Member States had not proven to be effective four years after the adoption of the Recommendation.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
The Council of Europe's Group of Specialists on on-line services and democracy published an "Outline position paper on the role of the media in promoting democracy and participation in the information society" on 19.12.02. All interested parties, in particular media professionals and research institutions in Europe, are invited to send their comments on the paper by 31 January 2003.
Problems persist with media freedom across Europe and further serious violations have taken place since 2001, according to a report by the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Culture, Science and Education made public in December 2002. The report by Tytti Isohookana-Asunmaa (Finland, LDR), has been provisionally scheduled for debate by the Assembly on Tuesday 28 January 2003.
The Council of Europe has sent a written contribution to the PrepCom-2 of the World Summit on the Information Society, which presents the relevant work of all bodies of the Organisation. The Council of Europe's work in the field of new information and communication technologies stresses the importance of adequate security in cyberspace, as well as the human and democratic dimension of communication. Moreover, it promotes e-inclusion and citizen empowerment in a democratic information society in such a way as to take advantage of opportunities and prevent risks, which may result from the new information and communication technologies. The written contribution is available at the WSIS website.
EUROPEAN TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ETUC)
The ETUC will coordinate the transposition of the directive on a general framework for information and consultation of employees into national law. The Directive has to be transposed into national law by March 2005. However, the directive will have effects already during the transposition phase. The European Court of Justice has decided that national courts already during the transposition phase are bound to a community-conform interpretation.
The ETUC in co-operation with the ICFTU and the WCL (World Confederation of Labour) will organise a seminar on decent work, a globalisation with jobs and dignity in Porto Alegre, 24-25 January 2003. This will be done in co-operation with the third World Social Forum.
The ETUC along with the employers' federations announced in their working programme 2003-2005, adopted on November 2002, to organise a seminar on "work-related stress" with a view to negotiating a voluntary agreement on stress at work. The European Commission published a consultation paper on stress and its effects on health and safety at work asking the Social Partners for their view whether a Community initiative is necessary. A joint seminar on European Works Councils is also envisaged for 2004.
The ETUC Executive Committee, which met on November 19 and 20 in Brussels, decided to organise an action day on a mass scale on March 21, 2003 the day before the European Spring Summit. The ETUC wants, in this way, to defeat regressive policies on a social level and the attacks on workers' rights in several European countries.
"The European Trade Union Movement calls for a constitutional Treaty - as a step towards a real Constitution - which would include the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the objectives of full employment, social dialogue, transnational trade-union rights, the role of the Social Partners, a system of European industrial relations, a social market economy and efficient services of general interest", such was the conclusion that Emilio Gabaglio, the ETUC's General Secretary, drew at the end of the ETUC's Conference on the Future of Europe which was held at the LO- DK headquarters on the 9-11 December 2002 in Copenhagen. During the three days meeting, more than 100 trade union leaders discussed with political representatives and the Civil society including European Commissioner Antonio Vitorino, and Giorgos Katiforis, Member of the Convention and President of the Working group on Social Europe.
Banking sector social partners agree on lifelong learning
The European social partners in the banking sector agreed on principles of lifelong learning in the sector. The agreement was negotiated within the European social dialogue committee for the banking sector. The social partners, UNI-Europa Finance on the trade union side and the European Banking Federation, the European Savings Bank Group and the European Association of Cooperative Banks on the employer's side signed the joint declaration on November 29th.
Both employers and trade unions see this agreement as a way to improve the skills and competencies of the workforce and also as a successful result of the sectoral social dialogue. The agreement defines four key themes as determinants for a lifelong learning culture.
A Survey on the implementation of the part-time work directive/agreement in the EU
Member States and selected applicant countries: Part-time workers form a substantial proportion of the working population both in the member states of the European Union and in the applicant countries. The development of part-time work in recent years varies from one country to another. To promote part-time employment, while protecting the workers concerned from discrimination, the European Social Partners concluded in 1997 an agreement that was incorporated into a Council directive in the same year.
Since there have been number of criticisms concerning the content of the new legislation - for example that it excludes all social security aspects, that the principle of non-discrimination is subject to numerous exceptions - and concerning the fact that few real guarantees are foreseen, the ETUI decided to scrutinise the impact of this directive on member states' legislation. Its findings - different in a number of significant respects from the official Commission implementation report - were published in a new ETUI Report in December 2002.
17-18 UNESCO WSIS Conference preparation - Prepcom II, Geneva
3 EFJ Labour Rights Expert Group Meeting, Brussels
9 EFJ Steering Committee Meeting, Brussels
10 Meeting of expert group chairs with Steering Committee, Brussels
Renate Schroeder, European Officer
European Federation of Journalists
International Press Centre
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