July 14, 2017 1:18 pm
This Tuesday the EP’s LIBE Committee held a public hearing on “Media Pluralism and Freedom in the EU”. The objective of this hearing was to determine what the current situation of media pluralism and freedom is in the Member States of the EU and to identify ways to protect journalists‘ independence and freedom of expression. It is in this context that we have chosen media pluralism as IATE Term of the Week.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (
Media pluralism & freedom in the EU, hearing starting now. Follow live https://t.co/l8mTs7qwcm
— LIBE Committee Press (@EP_Justice) July 11, 2017
Member States are in fact obliged to ensure pluralism by “a) refraining from interference that would distort the market and 2) ensuring that a plurality of opinions is present in the media market by enacting the necessary legislation” (Bárd & Bayer 2016:8). It is for this reason that monitoring and supervising media legislation and market practices, such as media concentration, is of utmost importance in order to evaluate its impact on media freedom and pluralism in the EU. But what is media pluralism?
Defining media pluralism is, in fact, a difficult and unsolved task, as often highlighted both in Academia and policy (Peruško 2010). The early Green Paper from the European Commission from 1992 already explained that the concept of pluralism in the media is often vaguely used to refer to, for example, the nature of the media market, the journalistic information available or the variety of editorial lines regarding a specific topic. However, the Commission clarified that there are two common features that arise from an in-depth legal analysis of the media pluralism concept (1992:14):
-the concept of pluralism serves to limit the scope of the principle of freedom of expression;
-the purpose of such limitation is to guarantee diversity of information for the public.
Furthermore, the Commission added an important difference that arises when using the term media pluralism:
Diversity of information can be achieved in one of two ways. A media operator can be asked to provide, in its communication activity, diversity of existing opinions (internal pluralism) or to make several media available to the public, the combination of which represents diversity, each medium being one element in that diversity (external pluralism). In case of internal pluralism, the measures adopted relate either to the internal organization of the media company whose control structure will have to represent the various currents of opinion, or to the editorial content of the newspapers or broadcasts. In the case of external pluralism, the measures are directed at organizing relations between the various media companies so as to ensure a degree of autonomy between them (anti-concentration measures are part of these) (1992:18)
If we follow this dual nature of pluralism, which is often criticized for being reductionist, we could attempt to define media pluralism as media diversity with regard to diversity of journalistic information available for citizens, in terms of topics (agenda), editorial lines, depth of coverage, etc. (internal pluralism) and diversity of sources of independent journalistic information (external pluralism) (Apreza 2007:66; European Commission 1992:18). However, it is expected that the definition of this term will still be subject of further intense academic and policy debate. Other attempts from the EU institutions to define the concept of media pluralism are, for example:
- Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (2017): Free media and the plurality of voices constitute the foundations of any healthy democratic society: they are indispensable conditions with which to guarantee that individuals have access to a variety of information and may form their opinions by taking into account different perspectives and views.
- High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism (2013): Media pluralism is a concept that goes far beyond media ownership … It embraces many aspects, ranging from, for example, merger control rules to content requirements in broadcasting licensing systems, the establishment of editorial freedoms, the independence and status of public service broadcasters, the professional situation of journalists, the relationship between media and political actors, etc. It encompasses all measures that ensure citizens’ access to a variety of information sources and voices, allowing them to form opinions without the undue influence of one dominant opinion forming power.
- European Commission (2011): Media pluralism is a complex concept that should not be limited to the issue of media concentration. This is why the starting point should be a broad understanding of media pluralism that includes all measures that ensure citizen’s access to a variety of information sources, opinion, voices etc. in order for them to build their opinion without the undue influence of one dominant opinion forming power.
- Commission of the European Communities (2007): Ensuring Media pluralism, in our understanding, implies all measures that ensure citizens’ access to a variety of information sources, opinion, voices etc. in order to form their opinion without the undue influence of one dominant opinion forming power.
Here you can see a screenshot of the entry for media pluralism in IATE. We request your support to complete the entry in all EU languages:
You might also be interested in reading some of our previous IATE Terms of the Week:
Please let us know what you think about the term media pluralism and feel free to learn more about it in the list of sources below!
- Apreza, S. (2007) “Concentración de medios de comunicación versus pluralismo informativo externo”, in Huber, R. Y Vilanueva, E. (coord.) Reforma de medios electrónicos, ¿avances o retrocesos?, Estudios jurídicos, nº110. México D.F.: Instituto de investigaciones jurídicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Pp: 63-85. Available at: http://bit.ly/2t7jaeI (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Bárd, Petra and Bayer Judit (2016) A comparative analysis of media freedom and pluralism in the EU Member States. Study for the LIBE Committee. Available at: http://bit.ly/2tSOhrx (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Berman, Thijs (2017) Challenges to Media Freedom in the EU. Available at: http://bit.ly/2udnRDt (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (2017) Monitoring media pluralism in Europe : application of the media pluralism monitor 2016 in the European Union, Montenegro and Turkey. Available at: http://bit.ly/2sX3BSM (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Commission of the European Communities (2007) Media pluralism in the Member States of the European Union. Comission Staff Working Paper. Brussels. Available at: http://bit.ly/2tSt0OG (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Council of Europe (2009) Methodology for monitoring media concentration and media content diversity. Report prepared by the Group of Specialists on Media Diversity. Strasbourg: Media and Information Society Division
- EU Media Futures Forum (2012) Fast-forward Europe: 8 solutions to thrive in the digital world. Final report. Available at: http://bit.ly/2tSOpHv (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- European Commission (n.d.) Media freedom and pluralism. Available at: http://bit.ly/2uYRplZ (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- European Commission (1992) Pluralism and media concentration in the internal market, an assessment of the need for Community action. Commission Green Paper. Available at: http://bit.ly/2uVzBYZ (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- European Commission (2011) High-Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism. Terms of Reference. Available at: http://bit.ly/2uVGb1G (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- European Commission (2016) Media pluralism and democracy: outcomes of the 2016 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights. Available at: http://bit.ly/2ulyIet (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Fernandes del Pozo, Doris (2012) Aproximación a la evolución de las ayudas a la prensa en Europa (2007-2012): Los casos de España, Francia, Reino Unido y Dinamarca. Masters Thesis. Available at: http://bit.ly/2sXQS2c (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism (2013) A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy. Report. Available at: http://bit.ly/2tm6M63 (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Media Task Force. European Commission (2011) Inventory of measures affecting the media. November 2011. European Commission. Available at: http://bit.ly/2sWHgEL (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Munteanu, M. (2010) Media in Crisis: should the state intervene? Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Oxford: University of Oxford.
- Nielsen, R. y Linnebank, G. (2011) Public Support for the Media: A Six-Country overview of Direct and Indirect Subsidies. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Oxford: University of Oxford. Available at: http://bit.ly/2tPNkSm (Accessed 13 July 2017)
- Peruško, Zrinjka (2010) “Chapter 13. The link That Matters: Media Concentration and Diversity of Content”, in Beata Klimkiewicz Media Freedom and Pluralism: Media Policy Challenges in the Enlarged Europe. Available at: http://bit.ly/2uYxhjK (Accessed 14 July 2017)
- Picard, Robert (2017) “The Sisyphean Pursuit of Media Pluralism: European Efforts to Establish Policy and Measurable Evidence“, Communication Law and Policy, Volume 22, 2017 – Issue 3. Available at: http://bit.ly/2vkk8kD (Accessed 14 July 2017)
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