An open and free media landscape with divergent opinions and ideas is a key aspect in democratic societies. Media pluralism is considered highly important with regard to media policy, freedom of speech and a vibrant cultural sector. Media freedom and pluralism are fundamental values, enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Furthermore a properly functioning and open European media ecosystem is essential in order to inform citizens who are expressing deep distrust of the EU and the EU institutions, and to increase the accountability of the European Institutions and national governments.
In this context, pluralism of media owners, media sources and content is critical in order to promote media diversity. It is crucial to have access to a variety of information and transparent mechanisms, which guarantees that media services are independent.
Media diversity is crucial for a well-functioning democratic society. If encouraged it leads to an open and dynamic media sector, unfettered access to information, and also drives quality of content through competition in the market. It also allows for journalists to work freely and independently.
Every EU citizen ought to have access to good quality information – this issue is even more crucial at a time when trust in media is low and continues to decline in the European Union. According to Standard Eurobarometer survey on Media Use in the European Union published by the European Commission in autumn 2015, 41% of Europeans report low or zero trust in the media, up 3 percentage points since the Standard Eurobarometer survey of autumn 2014.
In several European countries, the work of some journalists is being suppressed, newspapers are struggling to stay alive and media pluralism is decreasing. This is particularly the case at local levels where we see more local newspaper businesses closing down or merging, due to financial problems, leading to a decrease in media organisations.
In parallel, we are witnessing more horizontal and vertical concentration which is accelerating because of digital convergence.
In order to continue to foster media diversity, our group proposes 16 action points to foster media diversity.