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The Impact of Media Concentration on Professional Journalism

The Representative on Freedom of the M edia

VIENNA 2003


REPRESENTATIVE O N FREEDO M O F THE MEDIA

The Im pact o f M e dia Co nce ntratio n o n Pro fe s s io nal Jo urnalis m Researcher: Johannes von Dohnanyi Assisting: Christian Mรถller

Vienna 2003


O n the cover is a draw ing entitled Des Schreibers Hand (The Writer’s Hand) by the Germ an author and Nobel prize laureate (1999) Günter Grass. He has kindly let our O ffice use this as a label for publications of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The draw ing w as created in the context of Grass’s novel Das Treffen in Telgte, dealing w ith literary authors at the tim e of the Thirty Years War.

The publisher thanks the governm ents of the Federal Republic of Germ any and The Netherlands for their financial support to this publication.

© 2003 O rganization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (O SCE) O ffice of the Representative on Freedom of the Media Kärntner Ring 5-7, Top 14, 2. DG, A-1010 Vienna Telephone: +43-1 512 21 450 Telefax: +43-1 512 21 459 E-m ail: pm -fom @osce.org Texts in this book represent solely the view s of the researchers them selves and do not necessarily correspond w ith the official position of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Photograph on the cover: Jacqueline Godany, Vienna Design: WerkstattKrystianBieniek, Vienna


Co ntents

Preface by Freimut Duve

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Intro ductio n by Johannes von Dohnanyi and Christian M öller

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1. The Impact o f Media Co ncentratio n o n Pro fessio nal Jo urnalism by Johannes von Dohnanyi

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Dem ocracy and Professional Journalism International Legal Fram ew ork The Socio-Political Role of the Media in General and Daily New spapers in Particular Concentration in the Media Sector Legislation on Media Concentration The European Union and Media Concentration New Threats on the Horizon • Cross-Media O w nership • Cross-Border O w nership • Professional Journalism under Attack 2. The Survey

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3. General Survey Results

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4. Number o f Titles and Readership Structure

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5. Co untry Repo rts Germ any Country Report Survey Results

93 101

Finland Country Report Survey Results

112 115

United Kingdom Country Report Survey Results

119 122

Hungary Country Report Survey Results

133 140

Italy Country Report Survey Results

145 148

Lithuania Country Report Survey Results

154 157

Poland Country Report Survey Results

163 168

Rom ania Country Report Survey Results

173 180


6. Co nclusio ns

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Annex Q uestionnaire Principles for Guaranteeing Editorial Independence Proposed by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

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Springer Principles

202

O RKLA Principles

205

Researchers

207

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Pre face by Freim ut Duve

This study takes an in-depth look at the print m edia landscape in eight exem plary countries (Germ any, Finland, United Kingdom , Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Rom ania). These countries w ere chosen at random , they serve neither necessarily as a very good or very bad exam ple for the situation of a free press, but identify to a certain extent problem s throughout the entire O SCE region. Media concentration and foreign m edia ow nership m ight turn out to be a structural obstacle to free and pluralistic m edia. Horizontal concentration of m any titles in the hand of one com pany m ight turn out to lim it the variety of opinions. Vertical concentration of m edia outlets, printing houses and distribution channels m ight hinder com petitors from accessing the m arket. Cross-ow nership of non-m edia related com panies in m edia houses m ight ham per the w atchdog function of the press tow ards the private sector. The constitutional value of journalistic m edia goes far beyond financial interest of individuals or com panies, and the danger is that m edia houses regard new spapers as just another m arket product. Journalistic m edia is unlike any other business. How ever, free and independent m edia need a sound financial basis. In order to allow them to play their role as an active w atchdog, tax allow ances or sim ilar m eans of assistance should be im plem ented. Especially the situation in the em erging and som etim es rather sm all m arkets in Eastern and South Eastern Europe, w here the financial situation of new spapers and the revenue of FREIMUT D UVE

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advertisem ent is very insecure, m akes journalists and m edia vulnerable to influence from companies and/or governments. In such cases, foreign investm ent in m edia m ight help to stabilize the financial situation, thus giving m ore room for editorial independence and investigative journalism , as long as the editorial independence of the local journalists is guaranteed. Principles for Guaranteeing Editorial Independence, as proposed by m yself earlier this year, could be a m eans to achieve this independence. Censorship can have m any different faces, for exam ple, structural censorship com ing from m edia concentration. But in the end all different kinds of censorship fall back to the individual journalist and his daily w ork. European journalistic m edia have experienced som e fundam ental changes over the past decade. The regim e changes in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe w ere decisive for the historically unique chance to create a Europe w ide netw ork of free, independent and pluralistic m edia. At the sam e tim e the opening of those m arkets has accelerated the trend of m edia concentration all over Europe. This has been particularly evident in the print m edia sector. The researchers of this study sent out questionnaires to journalists of daily new spapers in eight different countries to find out how their daily w ork has changed and w hat their attitude tow ards foreign investm ent and other developm ents in the field of print m edia is.

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PREFACE


Intro ductio n by Johannes von Dohnanyi and Christian Möller

Econom ic concentration has long been acknow ledged as one of the m ain threats to m edia pluralism and diversity. Scientific research into structural deficiencies on individual company level as w ell as general m arket conditions w hich favour concentration processes has consequently been extensive. Little, how ever, is know n about the impact of media concentration on individual journalists and on the quality of professional journalism as a w hole. It is only thanks to the initiative of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media that at least parts of this know ledge gap can be considered as closed. This study deals w ith concentration trends in the daily new spaper m arkets and their im pact on professional journalism in eight selected O SCE participating States. O f these, Finland, Germ any, Italy and the United Kingdom are fully fledged EU Mem ber States. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Rom ania fall into the categories of acceding respectively Applicant States to the European Union. The country selection follow ed neither “political gossip” nor prejudicial colportage by the m edia over the level of m edia concentration or the state of Press Freedom s in this or another O SCE participating State. The sam ple w as not m eant to show “good” or “bad” exam ples on how to or how not to deal w ith the ever present tem ptations of concentration. At the daw n of an enlarged European Union the researchers’ sole intention w as to analyse future risks and opportunities for a European daily new spaper industry, w hose level of independence and protection from unduly interferences from state authorities or JO HANNES VO N D O HNANYI AND C HRISTIAN M Ö LLER

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industrial lobbying groups still differs considerably from country to country. The study itself is divided into tw o parts. Already existing research studies and statistical m aterial on the eight countries presented in this survey w ere collected. In addition, in-country interview s w ere arranged w ith individual journalists, representatives from m edia unions and associations, academ ia, publishing houses, and m edia NGO s. Secondly, questionnaires w ere distributed via the internet to journalist unions and associations as w ell as daily new spaper journalists of the eight participating countries. These questionnaires, w hich can be found in the annex of this book, w ere to be filled in on-line and sent back anonymously to the internet server at the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Due to the sm all num ber of addressees the questionnaires sent to unions and other organizations w ere incorporated as m ost valuable inform ation into the general part of this survey as w ell as the proper country report instead of being evaluated individually in detail. Finally, research and statistical m aterial collected w as added to in-country interview s w ith unions, associations, academ ia and others. These data w ere then cross-exam ined and put into context w ith the data individual journalists had provided by answ ering the on-line questionnaire. The survey exceeds already know n answ ers to the socioeconom ic problem s of print m edia concentration. It catches trends and patterns of m edia concentration as perceived by professional journalists in different countries and docum ents their very personal feelings and understanding of the im plications of such developm ents on professional journalism . The concept of this survey did not have the pretension to be exhaustive and representative, but to acquire general trends 12

INTRO DUCTIO N


and patterns of the im pact of m edia concentration on professional journalism that indeed can be exem plary. The results from this survey do not necessarily reflect the actual situation of the m edia in these eight countries, but how the polled journalists see their ow n position. The feeling of uneasiness and w orry lingering w ithin the category of professional journalists in all countries partaking in this survey should, how ever, not be undervalued. Survey results are presented both on aggregate and on the level of each individual country. The im pressions extracted from the returned questionnaires do not alw ays, therefore, confirm the official description of m edia concentration and freedom of the press in one specific country. Em pirical facts on the m edia landscape in the respective countries are delivered in the country reports at the beginning of each chapter. While the efforts to distribute the questionnaire w ere identical for all countries participating in this survey, the level of feedback show ed notable differences. Additional research w ould be needed to understand the reasons for such differing behaviour. Especially in the light of the lim ited reaction of print m edia journalists and their national representatives the help and assistance of the European Federation of Journalists to this survey can not be over estim ated. The seem ingly endless am ount of research m aterial, contacts and other inform ation provided by EFJ w as overw helm ing. The researchers’ w ould also like to thank those experts from national unions and associations, and academ ia as w ell as NGO s in the different countries w ho provided us w ith valuable inform ation in a num ber of personal interview s conducted or w ho contributed a com m ent or their personal view on the situation of m edia, m edia concentration and the situation of journalists in their country for their precious tim e. JO HANNES VO N D O HNANYI AND C HRISTIAN M Ö LLER

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1 . The Im pact o f M e dia Co nce ntratio n o n Pro fe s s io nal Jo urnalis m

1.1 D emo cracy and Pro fessio nal Jo urnalism Com m unication is at the heart of hum an interaction. Essential for the quality of com m unication is the quality of inform ation. The need for more and improved information, together w ith the freedom to openly express and exchange opinions, increases as people are expected to actively take part in decision m aking processes. While sm all groups can afford the luxury of com m unicating face to face, the individual citizen of an open and dem ocratic society depends on free and independent m ass m edia to exercise his rights to inform ation and freedom of expression. According to relevant judgm ents of the European Court on Hum an Rights (ECHR), “Freedom of the Media (…) im plies that the public has a right to a free m edia system , w hich provides overall balanced, full and varied inform ation. The underlying idea is that a free system of this kind is an essential prerequisite for a functioning dem ocracy”.1 Be it new spaper articles, radio or television program m es – the w ork of professional journalists alw ays stands behind media im parted inform ation. Media com panies m ay be industrial entities governed by general econom ic law s, but their produce is unlike anything else industry is taking to m arket. Journalists are both heart and brain of the m edia. Journalists are vigilant w atchdogs observing those w ho hold political or corporate pow er. Journalists are the sensors not only for social problem s, 1

Peter A. Bruck a.o., M edia Diversity in Europe: Report to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, Dec 2002).

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but also for positive developm ents. Without their w ork there w ould be neither reliable and im partial inform ation nor public debate on opinions. Dem ocracy can do w ithout fifty different types of buttons. It w ill survive even prolonged social and econom ic hardship. But w ithout a free and independent press dem ocracy w ill die. There sim ply is no substitute for solid professional journalism . Even though m ost governm ents w ould officially subscribe to the concept of freedom of the m edia, reality sadly show s a very different picture. The m edia and their representatives fall all too often easy prey to outside interferences and open repression.2 The non-governm ental organization, Reporters w ithout Borders reported that: “Press freedom had a rough tim e in 2001, the first year of the third m illennium . O n every continent, this basic right (a key to dem ocracy in any society) w as harshly attacked, along w ith those w ho exercised it. The attacks w ere either physical (threats, blow s, injuries and m urders), done through repressive law s (censorship, bannings, arrests and prison sentences) or else targeted m edia equipm ent itself (broadcasting aerials, printing w orks and offices). The picture w as a sad one. Press freedom in the w orld sharply declined during the year.”3 It had not been any better during the previous years. Im provem ents, if any, are barely perceivable. According to the Press Freedom World Review of the World Association of New spapers (WAN), “vigorous government clampdow ns, ongoing and renew ed conflict, and premeditated attacks on journalists and their publications signal a w idespread deterioration of conditions for the m edia, and a bleak outlook for press freedom in 2003”. During the first ten m onths of 2003 the Reporters w ithout Borders’ w orld w ide Press Freedom Barom eter show ed that 31 journalists and 2 m edia assistants had been killed and 138 journalists, 4 m edia assistants and 48 “cyber-dis16

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sidents” had been im prisoned. “At least 1,420 journalists w ere beaten, harassed, abducted, received death threats or w ere arrested and charged by police over the past tw elve m onths”.4 Not all of these reporters w ere killed during arm ed conflict. None of them had com m itted a crim inal offense according to basic dem ocratic standards. All of them w ere sim ply journalists carrying out their w ork and by doing so, becom ing a disturbing nuisance for the pow ers-that-be! “Creative m easures to reduce press freedom continue to be em ployed by leaders intent on stifling a free press in m any countries. Gross violations of freedom of expression in the form of national security law s, terrorism acts and crim inal defam ation land scores of journalists in prison and resign m any m ore to practicing self-censorship”.5 It is, h ow ever, im portan t to rem em ber th at repression again st th e m edia does n ot on ly h appen in so called developing countries. Reports on physical as w ell as psychological harassm ent of journalists continue to arrive from a num ber of O SCE participating States, w hich are usually heralded as the beacons of dem ocracy. O ne of them, British journalist Rachael Bletchly, w as handcuffed upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, because she failed to have a valid entry visa to the United States of America. She w as given very little to eat or drink, had no possibility to sleep and had to ask permission to use the lavatory, w hich w as denied on at least one occasion. In addition, she w as for a time, denied access to a law yer and to British Embassy officials. In a protest note to Tom Ridge, the Secretary of the US Departm ent 2

World Association of New spapers, Press Freedom World Review (June 2003).

3

Reporters w ithout Borders, Freedom of the Press throughout the World: Annual Report (2002).

4

World Association of New spapers, Press Freedom World Review (June 2003).

5

World Association of New spapers, Press Freedom World Review (June 2003).

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of Hom eland Security, WAN and the World Editors Forum w rote that “the treatm ent she w as subjected to fell far below international standards”.6 Yet it does not need physical violence or overly zealous im m igration officers to put the Freedom of the Media and the profession of journalism at risk. Due to the international financial crash follow ing the burst of the DotCom -bubble and the loss of advertisement revenue to the internet, print media across Europe are facing grow ing economic difficulties. In almost every country print m edia titles are threatened w ith closure. Concentration is picking up speed, creating new problems for media pluralism and diversity. Let there be no doubt, a free and independent press is never accom m odating. It is neither an accom plice of those in pow er nor is it their hangm an. Professional journalists should not be guided by personal ideological beliefs or political affiliation. They ought to be critical observers, diligent reporters and an indispensable link betw een all levels of society. In short: professional journalists belong to the salt of dem ocracy! Yet, instead of being nourished, protected and w ell taken care of, professional journalism is increasingly seen as a nuisance to be kept – by any means – on the shortest possible leash. Dem ocracy w ill not be defended by sim ply signing up to carefully edited proclam ations, international treaties or even universal charters. The defence of dem ocracy is a never ending task: 24-7-365! O ne of these tasks is the defense of free and independent m edia and professional journalism . 1.2 Internatio nal Legal Framew o rk With the tragedy of World War II and totalitarian dictatorship all across Europe still fresh in mind, the international comm unity 18

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determ ined Freedom of Expression and the liberty to voice, regardless of the consequences, one’s personal opinion, as fundam ental hum an rights. Art. 19 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights rules that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions w ithout interference and to seek, receive and im part inform ation and ideas through any m edia and regardless of frontiers”.7 The European Convention on Human Rights follow ed suit stating in Art. 10.1 that “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and im part inform ation and ideas w ithout interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”8 As this provision, like all the others of the Convention, is binding on all Mem ber States of the Council of Europe, it is legally enforceable. Legal complaints about infringements of Art. 10.1 and other individual rights guaranteed by the Convention, after exhausting domestic remedies, can be lodged w ith the European Court of Human Rights. The 43 m em bers of the Council of Europe are also com m itted to w orking for a strengthening of freedom of expression and inform ation and the free flow of inform ation and ideas across borders.9 It has been a long journey since the participant States of the Helsinki Conference solem nly declared their intention to “respect hum an rights and fundam ental freedom s, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for all 6

WAN Press Release, 28 O ctober 2003.

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Adopted and proclaim ed by the General Assem bly Resolution 217 A (III), (10 Decem ber 1948).

8

Council of Europe, Rom e, (4 Novem ber 1950).

9

The Council of Europe, 800 million Europeans (Strasbourg, April 2003).

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w ithout distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. …They w ill prom ote and encourage the effective exercise of civil, political, econom ic, social, cultural and other rights and freedom s all of w hich derive from the inherent dignity of the hum an person and are essential for his free and full developm ent”.10 In this spirit and context, signatory states from both sides of the Iron Curtain pledged, for the first tim e, not only to respect, but to im prove the rights of the m edia and their representatives. Since then the Helsinki Conference has developed into the O SCE, w hose m em bers declared during the Lisbon Sum m it that “Freedom of the press and m edia are am ong the basic prerequisites for truly dem ocratic and civil societies”.11 In accordance w ith this principle the Perm anent Council of the O SCE in 1997 finally decided to create the position of The Representative on Freedom of the Media. His m andate leaves little room for interpretation.12 “The participating States reaffirm the principles and com m itm ents they have adhered to in the field of free m edia. They recall in particular that freedom of expression is a fundam ental and internationally recognized hum an right and a basic com ponent of a dem ocratic society and that free, independent and pluralistic m edia are essential to a free and open society and accountable system s of governm ent. Bearing in m ind the principles and com m itm ents they have subscribed to w ithin the O SCE, and fully committed to the implementation of paragraph 11 of the Lisbon Sum m it Declaration, the participating States decide to establish, under the aegis of the Perm anent Council, an O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. The objective is to strengthen the im plem entation of relevant O SCE principles and com m itm ents as w ell as to im prove the effectiveness of concerted action by the participating States based on their com m on values. The participating States confirm that they w ill 20

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co-operate fully w ith the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. He or she w ill assist the participating States, in a spirit of co-operation, in their continuing com m itm ent to the furthering of free, independent and pluralistic m edia.” Freedom of Expression has thus been recognized by all m ajor m ultinational organizations and groupings as one of the indispensable pillars of any functioning democracy. Taking exam ple from the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of Am erica, m ost w estern style dem ocracies have included the right to Freedom of Expression into their ow n Basic Law s.13 The European Union (EU) considers the com pliance w ith fore set rules of a dem ocratic political system , including Freedom of Expression, as conditio sine qua non for m em bership. The gradual integration of the so called Acquit Com m unitaire into national law by Central and Eastern European Candidate States has been at the very heart of the European Union’s enlargem ent process. Art. 6.2 of the Treaty on the European Union (EU) acknow ledges the provisions of the European Convention on Hum an Rights as general principles of EU law.14 Even though none of these provisions m ention a specific right to Freedom of the M edia or M edia Plurality and Diversity it is generally accepted that w ithout a free and independent Media, the citizens’ basic rights to expression, opinion and inform ation w ould be curtailed. 10 Helsinki Final Act (1975). 11 O SCE Lisbon Sum m it. 12 O SCE, M andate of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the M edia: Decision Nr. 193 of the Perm anent Council of 5 Novem ber 1997. 13 See, pars pro Toto, Art. 5 and Art. 18 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, adopted on 23 May 1949. 14 Maastricht Treaty, 7 February 1992; Am sterdam Treaty, 2 O ctober 1997.

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This legal void w as filled for the first time on 7 December 2000 in Nice/France, w hen the heads of state and governments of the European Union adopted the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Charter, w hich w as meant to be the nucleus for the future European Constitution, defines the EU as an “area of freedom, security and justice”. And Art. 11.2 of the Charter reads explicitly: “The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected”.15 With the entrance of ten new Mem ber States in 2004 the European Union w ill have to sign a new treaty. Because of fundam ental disagreem ents betw een EU Mem ber States it is still uncertain w hether the Charter w ill becom e an integral part of a new European Constitution. For this reason, until a final agreem ent is reached, the Charter is not legally binding for Mem ber States. Whether freedom and pluralism of the m edia, as foreseen by the Charter, w ill be expressively upgraded to binding European constitutional rights also rem ains to be seen. Even though at present EU Member States retain the right to issue national media law s w ithin the existing legal framew ork of Art. 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the inclusion of freedom of the media into the European Treaties as w ell as the European Competition Law, safeguarding the freedom of the press by enshrining its rights into a future Europe w ould send out an urgently needed signal. 1.3 So cio -Po litical Ro le o f the Media in General and D aily New spapers in Particular Arguably, no other business is as com plex as the m edia business, and w ithin the m edia sector, daily new spaper publishing is the m ost com plex business of all. Nobody w ould deny that new spapers in a free and open society have to be privately ow ned. O nly then can they be independent from outside influences. The kind of state controlled journalism totalitarian regim es cherish is unacceptable in any m odel of dem ocracy. 22

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Such independence, how ever, com es at a price. Publishers of privately ow ned new spapers have to generate enough business to w ithstand the norm al pressure of com petition w hich is the lifeblood of any m arket econom y. Yet new spapers are like no other industrial produce. The paper on w hich they are printed is nothing but the “packaging”. As alw ays, the packaging is less im portant than the content, w hich in the case of new spapers is not a normal industrial product replicable en masse but the unique result of the intellectual w ork of individual professional journalists. The perm anent conflict betw een the publisher’s entrepreneurial right to react opportunistically to variable m arket conditions and the journalist’s editorial freedom based on the concept of his basic hum an right to freedom of expression is the fundam ental dilem m a of the m edia business in general and of the new spaper industry in particular. Different m odels on how to solve this dilem m a have had little success. In the end the publisher’s right to define the editorial line of his paper, based on his ow nership of the enterprise, has alw ays prevailed. The conservative Germ an journalist and colum nist Paul Sethe w rote in 1965 that the problem w ith freedom of expression consists of the fact that “new spaper ow ners concede ever less freedom to their editorial staff. Because publishing of new spapers and new s m agazines requires ever m ore capital, the num bers of people capable of going to m arket w ith new press products is declining steadily. Which in turn means that our (the journalists) dependency grow s in dangerous proportions”. “O nly he w ho is rich is free” concluded the conservative Sethe and added the ironical byline that “This is not a statement by Karl Marx but by Paul Sethe.” The deeply convinced capitalist w as intellectually honest enough to adm it that “Freedom 15 European Charter of Fundam ental Rights, (Nice, 2 Decem ber 2000).

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of the press boils dow n to the freedom of 200 rich people to voice their opinions”.16 Such a restricted m arket certainly forces professional journalists to com prom ise their right on freedom of expression day by day w ith the entrepreneurial expectations of their publisher. For society as a w hole, how ever, Sethe’s hypothetical “200 rich people” w ould guarantee the principle of m edia pluralism and content diversity, as long as those editorial voices can operate independently. Such independence is the quintessential condition for the m edia to fulfill its dem ocratic obligations. The m edia are not only one of the principle guardians over the com pliance w ith dem ocratic rules by the elected political representatives and other groups like trade unions and industrial entities. In reality the m edia has a m uch broader function. It is the m edia w hich enable the single citizen to first form and then to com pare his ow n political opinion w ith that of others. In this w ay the m edia serve the specific interests of the individual. At the sam e tim e, how ever, by gathering and divulging inform ation the m edia fulfil the role of a “broker” betw een the political and the private sphere of the individual. O nly by being extensively inform ed by the m edia is the individual citizen put into the position to judge and to freely adhere to one or another aggregation of the political spectrum . But in a dem ocratic system , the m edia do not only offer a platform for debate on the ideas and program m es of individual politicians and political parties, nor are they lim ited to the role of “public w atchdog” over the com pliance w ith dem ocratic rules. Equally im portant the m edia carry a great deal of responsibility for social cohesion. Media contents do reflect the interests and necessities of the society at large. The media, being at the same time, propulsion 24

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and m irror of the entire society, do not only have an influence on what w e think, the m edia also determ ine w hat w e think about.17 It is this agenda-setting function that m akes the m edia indispensable in a dem ocratic society. According to the Germ an sociologist Niklas Luhm an it is the quintessential role of the m edia to offer the necessary forum for an open debate about social problem s and w ays to their solution.18 Not all m edia types, how ever, are equally w ell equipped to fulfil this role. Apart from an ever sm aller com m unity of diehard aficionados of spoken quality inform ation; radio broadcasting has becom e the prim e choice for filling in em pty spaces of tim e. Radio is used w henever television is either not available, or not usable in one specific m om ent. Today, the m oving pictures of television have instead becom e the prim e choice of the average m edia client. With its technological possibility of real tim e transm ission, television creates the illusion of delivering the total of essential inform ation on a global scale. The saying that w hat has not been on TV has not happened, show s the extent to w hich television has perm eated the general public’s perception of the w orld. The liberalization of European radio and television m arkets, w hich started during the 1980s, has lead to an im pressive increase in privately ow ned stations and program m es. In addition, since the m id-1990s the “inform ation highw ay� of the internet has created hitherto unknow n possibilities for the distribution of inform ation. The introduction of both privately ow ned TV and the internet have lead to a dram atic shift in preferences of the advertising industry aw ay from print m edia. 16 Paul Sethe, Letter to the Editor of Der Spiegel (Ham burg, Germ any, 5 May 1965). 17 Prof. Axel Zerdick, Thom as Sim eon, Publizistik- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Ueberlegungen zur M ediensituation in Berlin (Berlin, February 2003). 18 Niklas Luhm ann, Die Realitaet der M assenmedien (Westdeutscher Verlag: O pladen, 1996), 169 ff.

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Daily new spapers have been hardest hit. By losing m ost of the qualified and sm all advertisem ents to the internet, in only a few years dailies have experienced a loss of revenue of up to 60 per cent.19 This trend seem s to be definite. No substitute for lost incom e through advertisem ent is in sight.20 Consequently print m edia in general and daily new spapers in particular are com ing increasingly under econom ic pressure. This developm ent is particularly serious as quality daily new spapers are considered to be of outstanding social relevance. Even the best televised program m e can not substitute the depth of inform ation and debate delivered by a quality daily new spaper. According to research studies conducted by the Germ an m edia expert Prof. Dr. Axel Zerdick, the extensive usage of television as the prim e source for inform ation even tends to reinforce negative political stereotypes and dim inishes trust in politics. New spapers on the other hand, have not been correlated w ith sim ilar negative effects. O n the contrary, new spapers are considered best equipped to create a better and deeper understanding of politics and society at large. “The reading of new spapers significantly betters political com petence”.21 Form er French Prim e Minister Michel Rocard is convinced that “The w ritten press alone can give readers the correct version of events and can balance out the instantaneous inform ation that often deform s our opinions and ideas”.22 Joe Groebel, Director General of the European Institute for the Media, adds to this analysis: “Society is increasingly based on inform ation, and it is a given fact that new spapers are the m ost im portant glue to society. They have specific responsibilities, and they also have pow er. We just have to address the idea of concentration and possible m onopolies.”23 In this context the usage of different m edia in European countries m akes interesting reading. O f the 58 m illion Italians, 26

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30 m illion rely exclusively on inform ation from television. The total circulation of daily new spapers does not reach six m illion copies, w ith a sports daily being the biggest selling new spaper in the country. Compared to these figures, Germany w ith a population of roughly 80 m illion features a daily circulation of ca. 24 m illion copies. O nly Japan and Norw ay beat Finland w hen it com es to new spaper consum ption. Four out of five Finns subscribe to at least one daily new spaper! The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that “w ithout plurality of voices and opinions in the media, the media cannot play their contributory role in dem ocracy”.24 According to a report com m issioned by the Council of Europe “Pluralism is (thus) a basic general rule of European m edia policy”.25 To guarantee the w idest possible choice of information and opinion to the individual citizen it needs not only pluralism und diversity, but a com petitive m edia m arket as w ell. Considering its relevance for the high end of the quality inform ation sector, this is particularly valid for the daily new spaper m arket. To be independent, daily new spapers can not be ow ned or controlled by the state or any pow er center w ithin society. They have to be in private hands. As such, new spaper enterprises are subjected to the rules of any m arket econom y. 19 Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of the Germ an w eekly new spaper Rheinischer M erkur in a speech on Freedom and Pluralism of the Media, (Berlin, 30 May 2003). 20 Prof. Axel Zerdick, Thom as Sim eon, Publizistik- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Ueberlegungen zur M ediensituation in Berlin (Berlin, February 2003). 21 Prof. Axel Zerdick, Thom as Sim eon, Publizistik- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Ueberlegungen zur M ediensituation in Berlin (Berlin, February 2003). 22 N ew Strategies for Profit Growth: 55th World New spaper Congress (Brugge, 2002). 23 N ew Strategies for Profit Growth: 55th World New spaper Congress (Brugge, 2002). 24 Peter A. Bruck a.o., M edia Diversity in Europe: Report to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, Dec 2002). 25 Peter A. Bruck a.o., M edia Diversity in Europe: Report to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg, Dec 2002).

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Because of their im portance as inform ation transm ission belts betw een all levels of society daily new spapers, therefore, can not be com pared w ith other providers of “norm al” goods and services. Dem ocracy can easily do w ithout sixty different types of buttons or fifteen brands of m argarine. It can not do w ithout the free flow of in-depth inform ation and the unhindered expression and debate of conflicting opinions, for w hich quality daily new spapers are the best equipped platform . While new spapers like any other econom ic enterprise have, in principle, to live by the basic rules of the m arket econom y, it is param ount for the functioning of dem ocracy to safeguard the new spaper landscape’s diversity and pluralism by all m eans, from the destructive excesses of the m arket forces. In other w ords: For keeping dem ocracy alive Paul Sethe’s “200 rich people” w ho can afford to publish new spapers have, at all costs, to be kept econom ically afloat! 1.4 Co ncentratio n in the Media Secto r Competition is the fuel of any market economy. But because the number of consumers and hence the size of the market are limited, life for the single competitor “improves” w hen the number of rivals drops. Concentration is the law of the fish pond applied to the economy: big fish gains “Lebensraum” by eating small fry! Concentration m ay occur vertically, i.e. integrating form erly independent econom ic entities of different production levels into one com pany, or horizontally, i.e. m erging com panies of the sam e production level. While concentration on the one hand necessarily leads to the reduction of independent players in one given m arket sector, it allow s at the sam e tim e for bigger econom ic units w hich financially and structurally are better equipped to cope w ith the risks of an ever m ore globalized econom y. 28

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Unchecked, concentration w ill reduce the num ber of com petitors in a given m arket sector to a sm all group of dom inating oligopolies or, in the extrem e, to the m onopolistic dom inance of the one rem aining supplier. But concentration also has a political dimension. Under certain circum stances total m arket dom inance by one supplier m ight even be in the interest of the com m unity. State authorities on all levels – from national governm ent to m unicipalities – use the instrument of “structural censorship” to maximize efficiency of essential services. Lim ited public financial resources are allocated to a lim ited num ber of recipients such as police forces or fire departm ents. Applied to the m edia m arket, how ever, structural censorship poses a direct threat to press freedom . Regulations such as surtaxes on paper for new spaper and m agazines, or nontransparent allocation procedures of frequencies or licences for electronic m edia are nothing but a m eans for state authorities to keep the m edia and access to the m edia m arket for new com petitors under strict control. The latter is in the interest of already operating competitors, be they state or private ow ned. Vertical media concentration, in w hich all printing facilities and distribution channels are in the hands of one or a few com panies, leads to an alm ost insurmountable access barrier to the market for smaller new spapers. Also in term s of financial revenue, politics as w ell as private com panies can put pressure on m edia outlets by allocating advertisem ents or taking aw ay cam paigns from new spapers, radio or television stations. A sound financial basis is im portant for journalistic independence, but especially in small and emerging m arkets this is not so easy to achieve. To safeguard m arkets in general and m edia m arkets in particular from the dam aging effects of concentration, legislators JO HANNES VO N D O HNANYI

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in dem ocratic societies have introduced regulatory m echanism s like ceiling targets for m arket shares and other criteria. In the m edia m arket “concentration raises the entry barriers for new com panies and is thus stifling com petition. The inter-dependency of politics and the m edia tends to block any form of creative m edia policy. The loss of journalistic jobs is but one of the consequences.”26 Concentration is also a clear and present danger to m edia pluralism and diversity. Both concepts are centre stage for the ongoing European debate on m edia concentration. O ver the years the Council of Europe has adopted a string of resolutions on ministerial level as w ell as numerous non binding recom m endations on the control of m edia concentration. These docum ents follow the Council’s all including “Working Definition” on m edia concentration: “In relation to m edia concentrations, the notion of pluralism is understood to m ean the scope for a w ide range of social, political and cultural values, opinions, inform ation and interests to find expression through the m edia. Pluralism m ay be internal in nature, w ith a w ide range of social, political and cultural values, opinions, inform ation and interests finding expression w ithin one m edia organisation, or external in nature, through a num ber of such organisations, each expressing a particular point of view.”27 The fact that the Council of Europe view s m edia concentration as being in opposition to m edia pluralism “m akes the definition of m edia concentration ‘negative’, w hich is a rather com m on m ethod in scientific contexts and logic”.28 Follow ing the Council of Europe’s definition, m edia concentration can not be determ ined by traditional econom ic factors like ow nership alone. And, contrary to com m on understanding, if pluralism and diversity of the m edia are to be 30

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protected, a certain level of m arket concentration m ay even be desirable; as it can m ake for econom ically healthier m edia com panies w hich otherw ise m ight becom e unsustainable. Such positive effects of concentration, how ever, are possible only as long as the editorial independence of the incorporated new spaper is safeguarded. A report by media experts commissioned by the Council of Europe states: “Although concentration in the mass media sector has some advantages (the preservation of media enterprises threatened w ith closure, the establishment of groups capable of confronting international competition, etc), the phenomenon of m edia concentrations, in particular as regards its m ultim edia form, may reach a threshold beyond w hich pluralism of information sources (freedom of information and expression) may be threatened.”29 Consequently, if “media products are not like other economic products” because “they have a social, cultural and democratic value that makes them special w ithin market conditions”30, and if a certain degree of media concentration is accepted, instruments to preserve editorial independence of different titles grouped under one entrepreneurial roof become more important than the guarantee of w idely fractioned ow nership. Publishers m ight even find it econom ically convenient to ensure pluralism w ithin their group, as w ith this strategy a w ider share of the media market can be held. 26 Josef Trappel and others, Die gesellschaftlichen Folgen der M edienkonzentration (Duesseldorf, 2002). 27 Council of Europe, “Pluralism and Media Concentrations in the Internal Market”, The Green Paper (23 Decem ber 1992). 28 Prof. Jens Cavallin, “European Policies and Regulations on Media Concentration”, International Journal of Communication Law and Policy (January 1998). 29 Council of Europe, Com m ittee of Experts on Media Concentrations and Pluralism . 30 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership – Threats on the Landscape (Brussels 2002).

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Uncontrolled concentration processes in the media sector are a threat to the nerve centres of democratic societies. In case of the European Union the threat is double. Concentration endangers the very cultural diversity w hich is at the heart of the EU, too. “Media concentration is a serious problem across the continent. A specific issue in the new democracies is that a small number of companies now predominantly ow n the printed press. At the national level som e of the press m arkets are highly concentrated.”31 The Federation of European Journalists w arns that w ith concentration “com es increasing concern for the im pact on m edia quality, pluralism and diversity”.32 As ever few er m edia concerns control ever bigger m arket shares, an increasing num ber of daily new spapers are loosing their independence by being bought off by bigger com petitors. These titles either disappear altogether or becom e dow ngraded to regional or local supplem ents of financially sound dailies. Free and independent m edia need a sound financial basis in order to guarantee editorial and journalistic independence. O nly then can they w ithstand direct or indirect pressure on the content by advertising com panies or through the allocation of state subsidies. The case of the Federal Republic of Germ any can be taken as exem plary: Even in Europe’s richest econom y the num ber of daily new spapers dropped from 391 titles in 1998 to 374 titles in 2002 (- 4.35% ). O ver the sam e period of tim e, total circulation of daily new spapers in Germ any dim inished by 7.10 per cent. Renow ned papers w ith long standing traditions like Die Welt, the Frankfurter Rundschau or the Berliner Tagesspiegel are threatened w ith closure. Im portant new spapers like the Sueddeutsche Z eitung or the Frankfurter Allgemeine Z eitung had to reduce their journalistic w orkforce drastically. Roughly 1,500 journalists are reported jobless in Berlin alone: A clear 32

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indication of the econom ic and financial strains that the Germ an daily new spaper m arket has been suffering from for years. If econom ic constraints have such an im pact on a rich and dem ocratically vibrant m edia environm ent like the Germ an m arket, consequences for sm aller and em erging m edia m arkets in CEE countries are even m ore dram atic. More than ten years after the collapse of the form er regim es the financial situation of new spapers as w ell as the revenue from advertisem ent rem ains very insecure, m aking journalists and m edia extrem ely vulnerable to all kinds of influences from the outside. Foreign m edia investm ent in CEE countries m ight help to stabilize the financial situation, thus helping to retain or to create the basic conditions for editorial independence and investigative journalism . Principles for Guaranteeing Editorial Independence, as proposed by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, could be an additional m eans to achieve this target. How ever, media concentration alw ays implies a threat to pluralism and diversity of opinion. Horizontal concentration, e.g. ow nership of a large number of regional new spapers, might lead to unified papers w ith local supplements only. Vertical concentration, e.g. the ow nership of new spapers, printing houses and distribution channels, might prevent market access for smaller or new media companies. 1.5 Legislatio n o n Media Co ncentratio n In the early stages of m edia legislation the basic right to freedom of expression w as interpreted m ainly as a right to a free print m edia system . As radio and television broadcasts w ere considered to be of strategic im portance to the State, frequency 31 Council of Europe, 1. “Report by the General Rapporteur on the Media� (Strasbourg, 5 Decem ber 2002). 32 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape (Brussels 2002).

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licences w ere allocated only to State ow ned broadcasters or those under the control of public law. As opposed to broadcasters in com m unist ruled countries, w here the State m aintained a m onopoly not only on frequencies, but on program m e content as w ell, Western European broadcasters w ere and m ostly still are controlled by a broad range of public interest groups. This m odel of public service broadcasting has w idely been acknow ledged as serving the citizen’s right to an unbiased inform ation w ell. The liberalization of the electronic m edia m arket in m ost Western countries during the 1980s and 1990s elim inated the State m onopoly over transm ission frequencies. At the sam e tim e it opened up the rather strict public control over content. This development required a completely new legislative approach both nationally and internationally, especially as radio and TV frequencies are not subject to national frontiers. In contrast to electronic m edia contents, the sales of print m edia products are, due to the natural language barrier, generally lim ited to national m arkets. With the collapse of the com m unist regim es in Central and Eastern Europe the first step, therefore, w as to privatize existing and previously State ow ned print m edia com panies and to liberalize the licence procedures for the opening of new print m edia outlets. While this new ly acquired press freedom led to a substantial increase in print m edia titles in CEE States, very few of them w ere based on sound m arket analysis and financial calculation. Inexperienced in the rules of an open m arket econom y the result w as predictable: basic econom ics forced m any new spapers out of business. In Poland for exam ple the num ber of daily new spapers dropped betw een 1998 and 2002 from 56 titles to 46 or by 8 per cent. New press law s w ere introduced in all CEE countries. Many of these law s, how ever, had to be am ended tim e after 34

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tim e, as the concept of a free and independent m edia only becam e gradually understood by the governing elites. At least in the beginning the problem of print m edia concentration did not rank very high on the political agenda of these countries. The notion of m edia concentration cam e to be understood only w ith the dram atic increase of foreign investm ent in national print m edia m arkets. In m ost cases EU Candidate States had to be coached by Brussels into form ulating m edia law s in line w ith the acquis com m unitaire. O ne reason for being so slow in adopting w ide ranging law s for the print m edia m ight have been the sense of urgency to regulate national electronic m edia m arkets. The credibility of the print m edia had suffered badly from the decade long direct control of the one-party State. Private television broadcasting, offered im m ediately after the regim e change by international new s channels like CNN, better reflected the citizens’ hunger for seem ingly unbiased inform ation. Private TV broadcasting introduced a hitherto unknow n lofty m ix of new s and entertainm ent. Television becam e the natural m edia choice for the new elites, w ho quickly becam e aw are of the political risks of opening their electronic m edia m arkets too w idely to foreign investm ent. While cross-border transm issions of European radio and TV contents w ithin the territories of the European Union are considered an expression of cultural diversity, the EU has alw ays tried to protect a com m on European identity by safeguarding its internal radio and TV m arket from being flooded by program m es from outside the Union. In this respect the EU is in open conflict m ainly w ith the US w here electronic m edia content is considered a norm al product of the service industry and therefore it is illegitim ate to treat it outside of existing free trade agreem ents. JO HANNES VO N D O HNANYI

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During the last decade of the tw entieth century legislators in m ost European countries have, how ever, adopted legal norm s not only to curb the transm ission of non-European contents, but also to regulate media industry’s temptations, European and non-European, to cross- ow nership into other sectors of the m edia m arket as w ell. Due to the need to tackle the radical changes in the electronic m edia sector, developm ents in the print m edia m arkets have long been neglected. Whereas in Western Europe the decade long evolution of legislation concerning m edia concentration basically follow ed the technological developm ents, Central and Eastern European countries have had a rough tim e catching up w ith European m edia law standards since the collapse of the form er regim es. As a result of the liberalization of the electronic m edia m arkets, legislators both on national and international levels have concentrated m ainly on regulating this extrem ely dynam ic sector. Consequently the evolution of legislation concerning the print m edia m arket has not been at the forefront of interest. This situation is changing rapidly. All over Europe new m edia law s are being draw n up. Most of these proposed drafts consider w hat the British Governm ent describes as “a lighter touch approach” for m arket share ceilings, m ergers and crossow nership. 1.6 The Euro pean Unio n and Media Co ncentratio n The concept of diversity of content as the key to m edia pluralism is recognized by both the Council of Europe and the European Union and its Mem ber States. While m ost of the Council of Europe’s decisions are alw ays only political guidelines based on principle, the European Union’s directives, once ratified by national parliam ents, are law to its m em bers. 36

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It appears, how ever, that this position of the EU has little clout w hen it com es to practical political considerations. A veritable conflict of interest betw een the EU and national governm ents of EU Mem ber States rem ains unresolved. Brussels had already in 1992 defined the m edia sector as part of the EU’s service industry and therefore subject to control from European concentration controlling bodies and the rules of the Single European M arket.33 National regulations intended to guarantee m edia pluralism are regarded by the Com m ission as an obstruction on the w ay to a single European m edia m arket. O n various occasions the Com m ission has tried in vain to introduce EU w ide rules. The need to harm onize European m edia concentration law s is due to the grow ing pressure from m edia groups, advertisem ent lobbies and the adm inistration of the United States of Am erica to lift entry barriers to the European TV broadcasting m arkets. The EU’s basic media concept is to safeguard cultural diversity as an integral part of European identity. It w as for this reason that as long ago as 1989 the “Television w ithout Frontiers” directive (TWF) w as introduced. It required broadcasters to transmit at least 50 per cent of European originated programmes on their channels. Since then the US television and movie industries have never stopped rallying against this quota provision. The aim of the US has alw ays been to have m ass m edia declared a norm al com m ercial activity and therefore subject to the free trade agreem ents of the General Agreem ent on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade O rganization (WTO ). If these attem pts succeed, the cultural diversity induced quota regulation benefiting European originated program m es 33 EU Com m ission, “Pluralism and m edia concentration in the single m arket”, The Green Paper (23 Decem ber 1992).

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w ould becom e illegal. Hence the grow ing pressure from Brussels to agree upon a harm onized European m edia law. A revised version of the TWF directive is due to be introduced by the end of 2003. Still, the m edia law policy pursuit by Brussels is m et w ith little enthusiasm from national European governm ents. National governm ents as w ell as regional and local authorities, even though com m itted in principle to at least lim it the process of media concentration, follow different objectives than the EU. Their need to strengthen existing publishing entities often stands in open contrast w ith European guidelines and principles. Perm itting existing m edia concerns to add additional m arket shares at the expense of sm aller com petitors, is a m eans to secure local jobs and ensure fiscal revenues. Keeping cross-border investors aw ay and m edia firm s in national hands is an additional m otive for governm ents to allow for a certain degree of concentration. The dilem m a of EU Mem ber States governm ents can therefore be best described as a difficult balancing act betw een local allocation politics and social m arket politics: to find an equilibrium betw een an econom ically necessary level of concentration, in order to protect the national m edia m arket against an increasingly globalized m edia environm ent and the need to define and to adhere to an upper lim it of tolerance of concentration in order to preserve m edia pluralism . Concerning the EU’s desire to harm onize European m edia law Mem ber States have so far kept the upper hand. That w hich is not governed by the European Union’s com petence in creating a single European m arket and safeguarding m arket com petition rem ains w ith the legislative authority of the Mem ber States. 38

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1.7 New Threats o n the Ho rizo n 1.7.1 Cross-Media O wnership. The m odern inform ation society has fundam entally changed the new s m edia business. The leisure sector, w hich has grow n dram atically over the past decades, has gradually encroached onto the new s m arket. Form erly, clearly defined, entrepreneurial border lines betw een traditional new s m edia and film , television, book publishing, m usic, new online m edia, theatre, sports and even them e parks are increasingly blurred. Broadcasting, telecom m unications and even print m edia via the internet are converging. Globally operating m edia conglom erates like the US based Aol Tim e Warner Inc. or the Germ an Bertelsm ann group strive to be present in as m any m arket segm ents of this em erging infotainm ent society as possible. Key to such strategy is cross-media ow nership: new spapers are co-ow ners of radio and TV stations. Television companies buy into film production firms, create virtual portals on the internet, run video and DVD rental chains and sponsor sports events. Creating bigger economic units does economically make sense. But the inherent risk of corporate mainstreaming of content, not only on the national level, but across borders can not be underestimated. “The experience in the USA, since the 1996 Telecommunications Act, has been that a small number of media corporations have moved into dominant positions by acquiring chunks of the US media. Deregulation has boosted both the commercial pow er of companies like AO L Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, but it also gives them political pow er.�34 Unchecked, cross-m edia ow nership is, therefore, a deadly threat to pluralism , to content diversity and to the freedom of the m edia itself. A vision that frightens the ever suspecting liberal just like the, truly to dem ocratic principles com m itted 34 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia Ownership (Brussels, January 2003).

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conservative. “Many artists, consum ers, m usicians and journalists know that such protestations of cable and internet com petition by the huge dominators of content and communication are malarkey”, w rites the famous American columnist William Safire, w ho surely does not rank am ong the “Leftists” of the United States: “Does that sound un-conservative? Not to m e. The concentration of pow er – political, corporate, media, cultural – should be anathema to conservatives. The diffusion of pow er through local control, thereby encouraging individual participation, is the essence of federalism and the greatest expression of democracy.”35 Legal lim its to cross-m edia ow nership are in place in m ost European countries. Yet, at this very m om ent w hen US m edia giants are pulling all strings to low er the entry barrier into the European m arkets, m any European governm ents are planning new legislation w hich w ould, if enacted, give no additional protection to their national m edia but open the doors w idely to globally operating foreign m edia concerns. The British Government advocates for opening the national market to the point w here non-EU media firms could ow n commercial TV stations. Based on the findings of the Competition Commission that even locally high levels of concentration in the daily new spaper sector do not necessarily “operate against the public interest”, new spaper mergers w ill be considered w ith “a lighter touch approach”. Even though the British Government remains – at least on paper – committed to “maintaining diversity and plurality”, the print m arket share ceiling as the m ain threshold for triggering anti-concentration legislation w ill be raised. Finally regulation on cross-ow nership especially betw een electronic media and print media w ill be w atered dow n. Sim ilar projects are under w ay in Italy, w here Prim e Minister and m edia m agnate Silvio Berlusconi directly or indirectly 40

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ow ns or controls not only the three biggest private TV Channels, but the public service broadcaster RAI as w ell. Even before the new m edia law the Italian m edia m arket w as already suffering from a w orryingly high level of concentration in all sectors. Not publishers in the classical sense, but industrial tycoons, are the ow ners of Italy’s biggest daily new spapers. Except for the biggest selling daily, w hich is a sports paper, all of them are linked to either ideological areas/political parties or to professional associations like the Italian Industrialist Association Confindustria. It is an open secret that each paper plays to the agenda of its ow ner. Journalists are seen as serving these agendas w illingly. Not surprisingly, Italians do not rate the credibility of the print m edia and m ost of their journalists as very high. An exception in this m orass used to be the public service broadcaster RAI; not so m uch because of the quality of RAI’s reporting but because of the general know ledge of the political affiliation of each of its three channels. Listening into the program m es of all three channels it w as possible to get a m ore or less accurate picture of a given event. Not so any m ore, since Mr. Berlusconi cam e into office, only to follow the decade old habit of nom inating his friends and political allies for key positions w ith RAI. The new m edia law does not only cem ent Mr. Berlusconi’s stranglehold on the Italian m edia, it w ould also benefit the long term com m ercial plans of the Prim e Minister’s close personal friend, m edia tycoon Rupert Murdoch. The stern w arning from President Carlo Azeglio Ciam pi to safeguard m edia pluralism and diversity as an indispensable corner stone of Italian dem ocracy has largely been ignored by the ruling centre-right coalition. The President of the Lom bardian Journalist Association, 35 William Safire, “Public Interest is threatened by Media Pow er Grabs”, N ew York Times (23 May 2003).

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Mr. Franco Abruzzo, envisages the enshrining of journalistic freedom and independence into the constitution as the only remaining w ay to save press freedom in Italy. Under the current parliam entarian m ajority the chances of such a proposal being accepted are close to nil: Italy “is w ell on its w ay to becoming one of the m ost concentrated m edia m arkets in the w orld�.36 The Germ an Governm ent is also considering easing up on m edia concentration ceilings and lim its to cross-m edia ow nership. And US m edia concerns are know n to have tried to influence European m edia law evolution through putting pressure on EU Candidate States w ho are required to abide by European m edia standards laid dow n in the acquis com m unitaire. 1.7.2 Cross-Border O wnership. Even a decade after the fall of com m unism the European m edia landscape is still divided into at least tw o very different realities. In m ost Western European countries m edia concentration peaked during the 1960s and 1970s. During that period com prehensive anti-concentration law s w ere introduced.37 In CEE countries the media landscape changed dramatically after the collapse of com m unism . New spapers and broadcasters, w hich had been at the service of the old regim es, started their new life w ith hardly any credibility w ith their custom ers. New m edia outlets com peted for users in societies in w hich the notion of a free and independent press and its sociopolitical role had hitherto been unknow n. But national m edia m arkets are no longer insulated from the outside w orld. O ver the past 20 years, globalization has also encroached on the m edia sector. For an increasing num ber of m edia groups, cross bordering has becom e part of the survival strategy. To expand in cross border operations does indeed allow for the creation of com petitive inform ation hubs. The possibility of serious political im plications of cross border ow nership can thus not be denied. 42

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Target countries som etim es interpret cross-border acquisitions as Trojan horse operations w ith the clear political intent to first infiltrate and then influence public opinion. O liver Money-Kyrle of the International Federation of Journalists interprets such fears, as do m ost other m edia experts, as the understandable preoccupation of national political and corporate elites of losing clout and influence over m edia content. “In the past, one alw ays talked about interference, censorship, either through the governm ent or by local press barons, w ho had strong political interests or strong business interests that w ould heavily influence the editorial policy of their m edia for their ow n political or business ends. Clearly if you have foreign m edia ow nership, that pressure is relieved from the journalists.”38 Even though a legal fram ew ork for governance of the concentration processes on national m edia m arkets is highly desirable, it can not be denied that in som e instances new m edia law s w ere initially designed w ith the clear intent to curb the new ly acquired freedom of the press. “The initial drive tow ards m edia concentration is practically caused … by foreign com panies stepping in and by their consequent decisions to divide local m edia m arkets. … (But) after the Russian crisis of 1998, w hich hit Lithuania in m id-1999, the m ism anagem ent of the country’s econom y w as severely criticized by the Lithuanian m ass m edia. As a result, Lithuanian journalists fell into the governm ent’s and the ruling conservative party’s disfavour. Hence the appearance of the new drafts in m edia legislation.”39 36 European Federation of Journalists, Public Broadcasting for All: Cam paign (2003). 37 Prof. Axel Zerw ig, Thom as Sim eon, Publizistik- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Ueberlegungen zur M ediensituation in Berlin (Berlin, February 2003). 38 Institute for War and Peace Reporting, “Germ an Media Giant dom inates Balkans” (25 April 2002). 39 “Mass Media Law and Practice”, Vilnius University Institute of Journalism , Issue 8 (April 2000).

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As m any of the m edia outlets in the em erging dem ocracies w ere financially too w eak to sustain the prolonged period of transition, they w ere easy prey for Western European publishing houses w hich m oved rapidly into CEE print press m arkets, w hile U.S. broadcasters got a strong foothold in the CEE countries television sector. US investors shun the print press m arkets in CEE countries because, as Mr. Marty Pom padur from Rupert Murdoch’s New s Corporation put it “It’s too political to ow n new spapers in som e European m arkets”.40 O ver th e past decade, in vestors am on g oth ers from Germ an y, Fran ce, th e Scan din avian coun tries an d Sw itzerlan d h ave bough t h eavily in to th e em ergin g Cen tral an d Eastern European prin t m edia m arkets. It is th e n um bers of foreign in vestors th at create fear in CEE coun tries of bein g culturally colon ized by Western m edia an d th eir supposed political m asters. After the fall of the com m unist regim e in 1989, the Hungarian daily new spaper m arket w as 100 per cent Hungarian ow ned. Seven years later, 60 per cent of this m edia sector w as already in the hands of foreign investors, m ainly from Germ any and Sw itzerland. By 2001, foreign ow nership of the Hungarian daily new spaper m arket had risen to 83 per cent.41 O ne of the biggest players in a num ber of CEE countries is the Germ an WAZ group. Beside its im portant stakes in Hungarian daily new spapers, the group ow ns or controls dailies in Bulgaria, Rom ania, Yugoslavia and Croatia. In addition, WAZ has invested both in printing plants and distribution centres across the region. WAZ m anager Dr. Markus Beerm ann stresses that his group has no intent to influence the journalistic content of its foreign titles. “WAZ takes only care of the entrepreneurial aspects. And as long as they follow the guidelines for editorial 44

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independence proposed by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and entirely part of our contracts of acquisition, the editorial responsibilities continue to lie exclusively w ith our local partners”.42 WAZ has alw ays rejected the notion of having created a m onopoly in Bulgaria. According to the group’s m anagem ent the Bulgarian WAZ titles are in fierce com petition w ith each other. But in 1999, only three years after its first arrival on the Bulgarian m edia m arket, WAZ controlled m ore then 35 per cent of Bulgaria’s m edia and around 70 per cent of the print advertising m arket.43 After a negative ruling by the Bulgarian Com m ittee for the Protection of Competition the German group had to divest itself of som e of its Bulgarian stakes. Nevertheless, WAZ rem ains the dom inant investor, not only in Bulgaria, but in other CEE countries as w ell. O verall the situation is not very different in other CEE countries. At the daw n of the new m illennium , for exam ple, 54 per cent of the Estonian subscribers to daily new spapers w ere served by the Norw egian m edia and inform ation com pany Schibsted ASA, w hile the rem aining 46 per cent of the m arket w ere covered by Bonnier Group of Sw eden.44 Considering the m agnitude of foreign investm ent into CEE print m edia m arkets m ounting criticism is not surprising. For m any observers the initially m ost w elcom ed financial injection into CEE print m edia m arkets has turned rapidly into 40 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires (Brussels, June 2003). 41 World Association of New spapers, World Press Trends (2003). 42 Dr. Markus Beermann, 2nd Conference on Media Law (Frankfurt/O der, O ctober 2003). 43 Institute for War and Peace Reporting, “Germ an Media Giant Dom inates Balkans” (Zagreb, April 2003). 44 “Mass Media Law and Practice”, Vilnius University Institute of Journalism , Issue 8 (April 2000).

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an unhealthy dom inant position of Western m edia com panies. In principle, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has w elcom ed the arrival of especially European investors, as “Foreign investm ent in CEE countries can bring benefits in term s of greater resources, im proved m anagem ent and increased independence from national political elites”.45 At the sam e tim e the Federation’s survey concluded that since the collapse of com m unism “the old state m onopoly of sections of the m edia, particularly the press, has been replaced by com m ercial m onopolies”.46 The notion of new “com m ercial m onopolies” m ay be exaggerated. But clearly the m assive Western investm ent into the em erging CEE print m edia m arket has sped up the concentration process in these countries. The pioneering years into the “Wild East” seem to have passed. Grow ing econom ic difficulties in Western European econom ies have led to the re-thinking of business strategies and com pany structures. By late O ctober 2003 the Bertelsm ann subsidiary Gruner & Jahr initiated a new round of m arket concentration by selling its acquisitions in m ost Central and Eastern European countries to the Sw iss m edia group Ringier. In future Gruner & Jahr w ill only operate in Poland and Russia, w hile the deal w ith the Germ an m edia giant has strengthened Ringier’s already strong position in the Chek Republic, Slovakia, Rom ania and Serbia. At least EFJ Secretary General Aidan White is surely preoccupied: “If Europe’s m edia is to have a future even rem otely connected to its traditional role as a w atchdog over the exercise of political and corporate pow er and as a provider of quality inform ation in the public interest, the issue of m edia concentration m ust be on the European agenda”.47 The m assive influx of foreign capital into CEE countries has definitely not helped independent nationally-based m edia 46

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groups to grow. And there is the incum bent danger that “as m edia groups from elsew here in Europe acquire new spapers in CEE countries, they do not pay enough attention to training, pay and the status and independence of journalists in carrying out their w ork”.48 This opinion has been encountered on various occasions during the preparation of this survey. “The foreign investment driven concentration process, w hich started after the collapse of communism, may have saved a number of media outlets”, said one leading Romanian journalist. “At the same time this process has led to a low er degree of journalistic freedom, less pluralism and few er job opportunities for professional journalists”. Notw ithstanding such harsh opinions, the m ajority of journalists in CEE countries w ould probably agree that foreign ow nership has substantially im proved the quality not only of the content of their m edia, but of their w orking conditions too. To respond to rising concerns am ong m edia consum ers about editorial independence and hence journalistic credibility, som e internationally operating m edia conglom erates like the Norw egian O rkla-group, the Essen/Germany based WAZ-Mediengruppe or the Springer-Verlag have voluntarily introduced internal rules to protect their w riting staff from outside pressure and to separate m anagerial and editorial responsibilities. In the Anglo-Saxon m edia such principles have a long standing tradition. They w ere introduced not to dem onstrate but to m aintain journalistic independence at a tim e w hen political and industrial pressure groups tried to gain influence over the m edia. 45 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires (Brussels, June 2003). 46 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires (Brussels, June 2003). 47 Aidan White during a press conference presenting the EFJ Report: Eastern Empires (Brussels, 6 June 2003). 48 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires (Brussels, June 2003).

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The continental European m edia tradition is quite different. New spapers w ere either founded by or had close relations w ith political parties and/or ideologically driven groups. Journalistic independence and hence editorial freedom had to be conquered by editors and journalists step by step. The introduction of O rkla-style rules therefore dem onstrates a healthy trend am ongst the new spaper com m unity that guarantees their right to editorial independence and to defend m edia pluralism and diversity. Most journalists participating in this survey agreed on the usefulness of such rules and expressed their desire to w ork under a sim ilar regim e. 1.7.3 Professional Journalism under Attack. While public interest is focused on the political and econom ic aspects of m edia concentration, its im pact on professional journalism goes w idely unnoticed. Severe political pressure on representatives of the m edia has been reported from several countries included in this survey. It w ould be too easy to explain these incidents w ith grow ing econom ic difficulties alone. The consequences of political indifference to the situation of the m edia and direct intervention and abuse of pow er by political parties, other socially relevant groups and organizations as w ell as individuals, can not be underestim ated. It is im portant to rem em ber that over the years the office of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has had to intervene on various occasions to rem ind the authorities of participating States of their obligations tow ards a free and independent m edia in general and the protection of journalists in particular. In this regard O SCE participating States from Central Asia, the Caucasus, the form er Federation of Yugoslavia and other 48

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areas of Central and Eastern Europe have been of m ajor concern. Death sentences against journalists, execution style m urder of critical w riters, long term prison sentences for m em bers of the press and other form s of violent or psychological repression have been condem ned in the strongest possible term s by both the Representative on Freedom of the Media Mr. Freim ut Duve, and the European Union. Totally unacceptable are attem pts by the authorities to stifle all form s of investigative journalism , to threaten critical new spapers and television stations w ith closure and to ham per or to block altogether the w ork of foreign correspondents. Hungarian Governm ents, from both sides of the political spectrum , have tried to buy the “political correctness” of the national print media by either placing or w ithdraw ing the rights to publish the results of the national lottery. Some Romanian new spapers have show n a particularly perverse reaction to such pressure. Instead of fulfilling their role as a w atchdog over the institutions, they have begun to sell their silence on political or industrial scandals by not reporting in exchange for advertisem ent placem ents or other favours. Tem ptations to gag the m edia are, alas, not lim ited to the transitional societies of the form er com m unist bloc. Even in Western Europe, w hich has enjoyed half a century of peace, liberty and dem ocratic rule, attacks on the freedom of the m edia in recent years have becom e m ore frequent. The fight for m arket shares and quotas opens the doors w idely to superficial infotainm ent at the expense of serious professional journalism . “Em otion” and “conflict” have becom e the tw o m ost im portant criteria for inform ation to be “new sw orthy”. “This w ay the im portance of events becom es distorted, differentiating reporting becom es m ore difficult; relevant them es disappear from the agenda altogether and society as a JO HANNES VO N D O HNANYI

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w hole becom es de-politicized.”49 The picture of independent Western m edia as a bright shining beacon for dem ocracy is clearly tarnished. O ne of the m ost disturbing exam ples of unasham edly putting com m ercial interests over journalistic freedom w as the decision of the Australian-Am erican m edia tycoon Mr. Rupert Murdoch to end the transm ission of the British BBC’s World Wide Service via his Hong Kong based Star Satellite TV in order to m aintain good political and industrial relations w ith the political leadership in Beijing. Mr. Murdoch ultim ately strives for “unmatched reach around the w orld. We’re reaching people from the m om ent they w ake up until they fall asleep.”50 But this strategic guideline seem s to cover just m arket presence. Journalistic excellence does not seem to be on the agenda of Mr. Murdoch’s “New s Corporation” conglom erate. In Germany “w e increasingly do experience politicians w ho choose the journalists by w hom they accept to be interview ed not on the base of professional quality but on the level of docility”.51 The astoundingly forceful reaction by 10 Dow ning Street to the BBC’s reporting on the Governments alleged “creation” of a clear and present danger to the w orld by Saddam Hussein’s supposed w eapons of mass destruction programme has seriously jeopardized the public broadcaster’s standing w ith its audience and its ability to investigate into British politics. But the situation appears particularly serious in Italy, one of the six founding m em bers of the European Union. In his first report released in 2002, the Council of Europe’s General Rapporteur on the Media noted that, “although no evidence can be given of direct infringem ent of freedom of expression, the com bination of political and financial control of the m ass m edia by (Prim e Minister) Mr. Berlusconi underm ines the usual notion of dem ocratic legitim acy”. 52 50

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Directly or indirectly Mr. Silvio Berlusconi not only controls the country’s three biggest private TV-stations, new spapers, new sm agazines and radio stations. But as Prim e Minister he also holds sw ay over Italy’s public broadcaster RAI. Som e of Italy’s m ost distinguished Journalists, w ho had been critical of Mr. Berlusconi prior to and after the election of his centre-right governm ent, saw their contracts w ith RAI cancelled, after the Prim e Minister had publicly labelled them as “com m unists” and “enem ies of his governm ent”. According to the World Press Freedom Review for 2002 “the Prim e Minister said that the journalists w ere using taxpayers’ money for a political campaign, something he called ‘criminal’ behaviour”. The report concluded that “Media diversity has been in retreat in Italy and political control is filling the vacuum”.53 The O SCE Representative on Media Freedom pointed out at that “in Italy, a founding m em ber of the EU, the present political leadership is not follow ing the constitutional tradition of Europe. Especially the pluralism of the broadcasting m edia is in jeopardy because of an ow nership situation that allow s the executive to control both public and private broadcasting m edia.”54 While dem ocracy in Italy should be strong enough to w ithstand even a prolonged attack on the country’s m edia, the sam e does not necessarily apply to the m edia of the transitional 49 Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of the Germ an w eekly new spaper Rheinischer M erkur in a speech on Freedom and Pluralism of the Media (Berlin, 30 May 2003). 50 According to Cam paign Press and Broadcasting Freedom <w w w.m ediachannel.org> 51 Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of the Germ an w eekly new spaper Rheinischer M erkur in a speech on Freedom and Pluralism of the Media (Berlin, 30 May 2003). 52 Council of Europe, 1. “Report by the General Rapporteur on the Media” (Strasbourg, 5 Decem ber 2002). 53 “World Press Freedom Report” (Italy, 2002). 54 “Italy’s Media O w nership – A Challenge to the European Constitutional Architecture”, Press Release by O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (12 March 2002).

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societies of Central and Eastern Europe. A recent report com m issioned by the European Federation of Journalists concluded that “the regulatory bodies that have been established to oversee broadcast m edia are, in m any CEE countries, appointed by political elites w ho w ant to ensure continuing control over areas of the m edia. This trend raises issues of dem ocratic accountability and transparency in the appointm ent of people to oversee the w ork of these bodies, and the basis for the allocation of broadcasting licences.”55 Developm ents like the ones in Italy are particularly serious because they set poor exam ples and could be used in the future to legitim ize unacceptably low standards for Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Media in countries, w here the tem ptation of autocratic rule am ong the political elites is still vibrant. Even though Albania w as not included in this survey, the follow ing statem ent of one of the country’s publishers is indicative for the dangers Central and Eastern European countries are facing. “O f the existing 15 Albanian new spapers all are ow ned by business people”, says Shpetim Nazarko. “O ur governm ent w anted to com pletely copy the governm ent of Mr. Berlusconi. Today the State as w ell as the m edia is in the hands of businessm en”. The dire prediction of Mr. Nazarko: “I’m afraid that this is only the final phase before the return to total chaos.” 56 The Berlusconian m odel stands out in stark contrast to the role the m edia are supposed to play in an open and dem ocratic society. Professional journalists as indispensable guardians of the dem ocratic functioning of society are the m edia com panies’ m ost im portant assets. As such, the professional independence and, in som e cases even the personal safety of journalists needs better protection. 52

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Yet this sim ple notion appears to becom e m ore and m ore irrelevant. O ver the years the understanding of dem ocracy has experienced alm ost unperceivable, but far reaching changes. The once clear cut distinction of different roles of different groups w ithin society is becoming increasingly blurred. The role of the representatives of the m edia is no exception.57 Politicians increasingly use the m edia to prom ote their ow n personal profile in light of the next elections, and less to prom ote public debate about ideas, program m es and visions. They som etim es even substitute journalists by actively w riting for m edia outlets of their choice. Governm ental institutions increasingly abuse the m edia as a cheap propaganda tool. Analysing the role of the Sw edish m edia during the Kosovo conflict, the Sw edish “O ffice for Psychological Defense” concluded that NATO and the US Departm ent of Defense had successfully m anaged “to transform the m edia of the countries participating in the cam paign into a fourth force next to the arm y, the Air Force and the Navy”.58 According to the Sw edish researchers the m ain drive of NATO press policy during the Kosovo crisis w as to keep radio and TV journalists busy 24 hours a day and to provide them w ith as much “filtered” infotainment as possible in order to level the general quality of information. The clear intention w as to force the “slow er” print media to follow the editorial line dictated by the electronic media. “Independence and integrity of the Western media are steadily retrieving under the pressure of the New World O rder”.59 55 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires (Brussels, June 2003). 56 Karl Hoffm ann, Albanien; in: Bayrischer Rundfunk B5 (10 O ctober 2003). 57 Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of the Germ an w eekly new spaper Rheinischer M erkur in a speech on Freedom and Pluralism of the Media (Berlin, 30 May 2003). 58 O ffice for Psychological Defense, “Kam pen om det kom m unikative rum m et” <w w w.psycdef.se/bibliotek/report_show.asp?FileID=71>

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O ne of the w orrying conclusions of the Sw edish report w as that the m odern inform ation era is characterized by “an ever faster convergence of print m edia, electronic m edia and digital com m unication w ith at the sam e tim e a grow ing fractioning of the m edia consum ers. Traditional m edia are increasingly seen as part of the pow er elites.”60 Which, follow ing the line of thought of the Sw edish researchers, could lead to a dangerous developm ent: Not only “Non-governm ental O rganizations (NGO s), Independence Movem ents, Lobbying Groups, Activists and Terrorists” could turn against the established m edia, but parts of the ordinary citizens as w ell, “w hose opinions w ould then becom e less predictable”.61 Publishers, editors and journalists on the other hand, are becom ing less concerned w ith being seen as being too close to individual politicians or political parties. Their role in society becom es totally confused w hen they operate as “private counsellors” to politicians or even as active political players. The sam e problem atic applies w hen investm ents from outside the m edia m arket into m edia firm s change the quality of relations betw een industry and journalism . Journalists retain their credibility only as long as they are seen as neutral and as critical observers. They should never be put in a position of, nor should they be allow ed to act as, industrial product prom oters in disguise. Professional journalism is facing new and disturbing challenges not only from the outside. The profession, w hich the European Court on Hum an Rights considers of the highest im portance for the functioning of dem ocracy, is facing difficulties also from w ithin. Again, it’s the daily new spaper sector w hich has been hit hardest. The loss of advertisem ent revenue due to the appearance of the internet has resulted in a dram atic pow er shift w ithin 54

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new spaper firm s. Using the argum ent of having to restructure due to the financial crisis, m anagem ent is setting new rules for journalism . Investigative journalism is being reduced to the bones. New s agency dispatches are filling colum ns w hich, not very long ago, w ere used to publish articles w ritten by professional staff m em bers. In tim es of dire straits the journalistic quest for quality content has becom e alm ost optional. New spaper m anagem ent is using the econom ic consequences of norm al m arket contractions to rein in critical w riters and com m entators. Direct or indirect pressure is put on journalists not to report negatively or even critically on events, institutions or people w ho m ight be im portant to publishers or editors and their friends from politics and industry. Such pressure often leads to “politically correct” reporting by journalists – a euphem istic description of self-censorship. It m ay, how ever, lead to direct censorship. According to the Germ an Sociologist Roland Seim censorship is nothing but “know ingly taking influence on public opinion by w ithholding inform ation from the public or presenting it in a distorted w ay”.62 It appears, therefore, essential to protect daily new spapers in their role as w atchdogs over the proper function of dem ocracy and a vital instrum ent of social cohesion from undue econom ic dependencies and outside pressure. O ne m odel to guarantee editorial independence could be to organize daily new spapers as public service entities. “Should all other roads (to a durably sound econom ic base for print 59 O ffice for Psychological Defense, “Kam pen om det kom m unikative rum m et” <w w w.psycdef.se/bibliotek/report_show.asp?FileID=71> 60 O ffice for Psychological Defense, “Kam pen om det kom m unikative rum m et” <w w w.psycdef.se/bibliotek/report_show.asp?FileID=71> 61 O ffice for Psychological Defense, “Kam pen om det kom m unikative rum m et” <w w w.psycdef.se/bibliotek/report_show.asp?FileID=71> 62 Roland Seim , Z wischen M edienfreiheit und Z ensureingriffen (Telos Verlag, Muenster 1998).

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m edia) been unsuccessfully explored, the state w ould have to financially guarantee a basic provision to the nation of quality new s and inform ation, free of state or com m ercially induced intervention”.63 Such ideas are not new. The Germ an centre-left Government thought, already in the 1970s, of a pilot project organized along such lines. The proposal w as, how ever, abandoned almost immediately as the treatment of daily new spapers as public service companies w ould have significantly infringed on the entrepreneurial rights of the private ow ners of daily new spapers. As every legislative fram ew ork m eant to lim it ow nership and entrepreneurial rights is contrary to the principles of an open and dem ocratic m arket econom y, editorial independence in the end can only be guaranteed by the voluntary acceptance of a fram ew ork of principles. The O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has proposed a set of principles for guaranteeing editorial independence. This proposal includes • total transparency of the ow nership structure of all journalistic m edia to the public; • a com m on code of conduct reached betw een the staff and the m anagem ent on basic journalistic principles, including: – standing up for Hum an Rights – standing up for the fundam ental dem ocratic rights, the parliam entary system and international understanding, as laid dow n in the United Nations – fighting totalitarian activities of any political tendency – fighting any nationalist or racial discrim ination • a clear and public statem ent on any institutional political affiliation of a journalistic m edia; • a commitment of media companies, holding more than one title to safeguard journalistic independence and plurality as 56

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a contribution to democratization and to strengthening freedom of the media. O f the European m edia, only the Essen/Germ any based WAZ group and the Norw egian O RKLA group have so far adhered in full to these principles. Dangers to the freedom of the press also com e from the political environm ent. As fallout from Septem ber 11 and the follow ing global w ar on terror, the pressure on independent journalism is m ounting. “Several of the law s passed to fight terrorism have raised concern and underm ine the basic principle of a free flow of inform ation”.64 Especially targeted is the protection of journalistic sources, w hich is not perfectly regulated anyw here, and has been further w eakened . Recent court sentences in the US and other countries indicate the grow ing tem ptation of the political pow erful to strip journalists of this m ost im portant tool of their profession. While the principle is w ell defined – “Journalists have a duty to protect confidential sources” and “The independent status of journalists is com prom ised w hen their sources and m aterial becom es readily available to the public.”65 Source protection has also recently been an issue in the United Kingdom , in Germ any, Sw itzerland, the International Crim inal Court at The Hague and even in Denm ark. O nly superficial infotainm ent can live w ithout in-depth investigation, w hich is often based on confidential insider inform ation. With ever less legally guaranteed protection of journalistic sources it becom es nearly im possible to obtain relevant confidential inform ation. 63 Michael Rutz, editor-in-chief of the Germ an w eekly new spaper Rheinischer M erkur in a speech on Freedom and Pluralism of the Media (Berlin, 30 May 2003). 64 Reporters w ithout Borders, World Freedom Press Report (2002). 65 International Federation of Journalists, Executive Committee Meeting (Brussels, June 2003).

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Since the end of com m unism , the developm ent of freedom of the m edia and the professional independence of journalists has been at the centre of interest in m any Eastern and SouthEastern European countries. The list of incidents of censorship and often, open aggression against professional w riters is endless. But even though these cases are by no m eans excusable they w ere, in a certain w ay, to be expected. Dem ocracy is a continuous learning process. There is no painless transition from decennial dictatorial repression to an open and dem ocratic society. In a m uch m ore subtle w ay censorship is also raising its ugly head in dem ocratic Western European societies again. As a consequence of discreet threats to their livelihood m any professional journalists no longer set the agenda for public debate but follow the agenda set by governm ents. All this does not seem to speak in favour of professional journalism . Yet journalists are not so m uch perpetrators but victim s of developm ents. Low er journalistic quality reflects less a loss of ethics of professional journalists than the fact that editors and publishers are in cahoots w ith politicians and industrialists. Serving m ainly their ow n industrial and all too often political interests they tend to forget the role of the m edia as vigilant observer of those elected to serve society. Professional journalists m ay have succum bed too easily to such pressure, but, as Franco Abruzzo, the President of the Regional Association of Journalists in Milan/Italy put it so bluntly during an interview for this survey: “Som ehow professional journalists have to survive, too!” “Journalistic Darw inism ” is the term so aptly created by the young editor-in-chief of a w ell renow ned Sw iss w eekly new spaper. His crude conviction: better journalistic w ork can be achieved by keeping professional staff w riters in constant fear of being dism issed. Within tw o years content and presen58

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tation of this form erly liberal paper have changed by 180 degrees. About tw o-thirds of the professional w riting staff have been replaced w ith less independent-m inded em ployees. The rem aining journalists have â&#x20AC;&#x153;voluntarilyâ&#x20AC;? adopted the strong neo conservative beliefs of the editor-in-chief and the publishers. Even though the title rem ains in existence, Sw itzerland has lost one of its long standing jew els of journalistic independence and pluralism . Publishers and editors-in-chief are not reacting to political pressure alone. Through the pow er to decide on w here to place their advertising cam paigns, industry is holding the m edia on a very short financial leash. Full tim e journalists are replaced by cheaper and, because of their econom ic predicam ent, m ore accom m odating freelancing w riters. Instead of w ell researched and w ritten articles, features or background analysis new spapers are filled w ith dispatches from new s agencies. The im m ediate effect of such m easures m ay be a drastic reduction in costs and hence budgetary im provem ents of m edia com panies. In the long run, how ever, the classification of professional journalists as cost factors alone w ill prove counter-productive. The success of the Media in general and of new spapers in particular depends on their level of credibility. Renouncing to a pronounced individual profile of individual m edia outlets by reducing positions of professional journalists m eans gradually succum bing to this creeping process of m edia content hom ologation. Content quality and w ith it the level of credibility w ill inevitably suffer. O nly the w ork of independent professional journalists can guarantee public debate and social cohesion, w hich are am ong the m ost im portant duties of the m edia in a dem ocratic regim e. Without credibility professional journalism is doom ed.

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2 . The Surve y

As m edia concentration has long been understood as being a threat to pluralism and content diversity and thus to democracy proper, the phenom enon has been the subject of extensive research. Concentration today is w ell understood in its economic dim ension as w ell as in its social and political im plications. Interestingly enough, in this ongoing debate on concentration, one key sector of the m edia industry has received little attention. What happens to professional journalism ? How do journalists cope w ith the changing professional environm ent? And how do journalists describe their professional situation in the â&#x20AC;&#x153;New World O rderâ&#x20AC;? of globally operating m edia conglom erates? If it is true, that a free and independent press is one of the essential pillars of dem ocracy, and that journalists are the m ost im portant asset of m edia com panies, then their opinions and their feelings have to be taken into account, too. To fill this gap w as the purpose of this survey, conducted each in four full Mem ber States and four m em bership Candidate States of the European Union. The results presented in this publication w ould not have been possible w ithout the active and generous help of the European Federation of Journalists in Brussels and the national journalist unions and associations as w ell as m edia NGO s in Finland, Germ any, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Rom ania and the United Kingdom . The survey deals only w ith the im pact of concentration on professional journalism in the daily new spaper sector. The decision to research daily new spaper journalism alone w as due to lim ited financial resources and the short am ount of tim e available. T HE SURVEY

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This lim itation in no w ay indicates that journalists in other m edia sectors do not experience sim ilar hardship and frustrations. O n the contrary, the high num bers of responses from journalists operating in m edia other than daily new spapers suggests a deep frustration even am ong the journalists of the electronic m edia, w hich have been hit by the econom ic crisis and loss of advertisem ent revenue to a m uch lesser degree. A com plete picture of the difficult situation of professional journalism as a w hole is im possible w ithout a second additional survey on the im pact of concentration and globalization on professional journalists of the electronic m edia in the eight countries represented in this study. While econom ic research is based on verifiable facts and figures, this survey deals w ith personal im pressions and feelings. In m any cases sim ple “yes” or “no” answ ers are im possible. Political sentim ents and personal experiences from the past m ay have an influence on the evaluation of a given and evolving situation. All questions com bined, how ever, result in a personal description of the present level of job satisfaction. Journalists are used to posing questions. They are less used to being asked. For practical reasons the questionnaire for this survey w as distributed in the English language. Participants, how ever, w ere offered the option to answ er in their native languages. To guarantee com plete anonym ity the questionnaire w as distributed via the internet. National journalist unions and associations as w ell as m edia NGO s w ere asked to send the questionnaire on to their m em bers. In som e cases as, for exam ple, in Italy the questionnaire w as distributed directly via the electronic servers of individual new spapers. Journalists w ere given the opportunity to fill in the questionnaire on-line and to send their answ ers back to the O SCE headquarter server, w here all com puter generated inform ation 62

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about the sender w as autom atically erased before being forw arded to the research group. Notw ithstanding all these precautions and guarantees, the general reluctance to participate in this survey w as notable. The level of response from those countries included in the survey varied w idely. This m ade it im possible for som e questions to be analysed in detail for each of the countries included in this survey. Graphics w ere used only in those cases w ere the num ber of returns allow ed for significant description. How ever, it w as in each case possible to elaborate general trends. O f m ore than 500 returns, only 300 plus w ere usable. Those elim inated contained either incom plete or objectively false answ ers. Returns from countries “other” than the eight represented in this survey w ere equally discounted as w ere the answ ers of journalists not w orking in daily new spapers. With the exception of Finland, w hich ranks am ongst the cham pions for freedom of the m edia, the reluctance of journalists to voice their personal opinion peaked in countries w here press freedom is know n to be in jeopardy. The argum ent of a leading Hungarian unionist, as to w hy he w ould not recom m end his colleagues to participate in this survey, revealed a surprising level of political m isconceptions. “The foreign m edia have colonized a substantial part of the Hungarian daily new spaper m arket on behalf of the CIA. As the Am erican Intelligence Services are controlling each and every m essage sent via internet, they w ould be able to collect the private political opinion of every journalist partaking in this survey. It w ould, therefore, be professional suicide to contribute to your research.” An Italian journalist refused to answ er the questionnaire, “because it w ould be absolutely useless. Media concentration in Italy has reached such a level, that the notion of a free national T HE SURVEY

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press is ridiculous. Journalists continue to fill pages. But in their heart they know that they are neither free nor independent”. While such statem ents are certainly induced by the professional situation of the individual journalist, it w ould be too easy for them to be dism issed as not being representative. Firstly, because the w hole survey w as exclusively built on the personal opinion of individual journalists and secondly, such radical feelings w ere m ainly received from countries w here the freedom of the press is in danger. This study does not pretend to offer final and “scientifically sound” answ ers to the question of to w hat degree professional journalists feel the im pact of m edia concentration. It should, how ever, be taken seriously, as it sheds a bright light on the not so optim istic evaluation of journalists of the state of their profession. Where journalists do not feel free to state their real personal opinion, and retreat to w hat they believe to be the expected socially and politically “correct” answ ers, the very foundations of dem ocracy are in question. Po sitio n o f the Euro pean Federatio n o f Jo urnalists (EFJ) by Renate Schroeder, European Director The rise of a global com m ercial m edia system and of m edia concentration is m ore than an econom ic m atter for Europeans; it also has clear im plications for dem ocratic and social values as w ell as for the role of journalists. Excessive com m ercialisation and, particularly, m edia concentration can im pede the right to know because it leads to a sm all num ber of corporations controlling the m ajor proportion of m edia outlets, thus restricting diversity and pluralism . The European Federation of Journalists representing about 200.000 journalists throughout Europe is, therefore, concerned not just about the quality of journalism and journalistic w ork, but also the im pact on politics, pluralism and traditional cultural values. 64

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The issues that need to be considered w hen talking about journalistic quality, ow nership of m edia and concentration are: • •

• •

The im portance of m edia to dem ocratic pluralism , creative expression and cultural diversity w ithin society; The needs of ow ners to create viable and vigorous m edia businesses to suit a turbulent and expanding inform ation m arket; The need to m aintain distance betw een m edia activity and the exercise of political pow er; The needs of journalists and others to w ork in a professional environm ent free from undue political or com m ercial pressure.

Much of the w ork of journalists and authors depends heavily upon good conditions of freedom of expression and opinion. The problem , and there is m uch evidence to support it these days, is that corporate influence in m odern m edia is upsetting the traditional balance betw een business interests and editorial independence. At the heart of journalism , w ithout being too grand, is the notion of impartiality, tolerance and respect for the truth. But ideas of “mission”, “public interest” and ethical standards are increasingly com prom ised by com m ercial pressure on the new s agenda in favour of business interests. At the sam e tim e social conditions and em ploym ent rights are under extrem e pressure as corporate hostility to unions and collective bargaining are having a negative impact on both quality of content and social conditions. How ever, it m ust be said that although flaw ed, the global m edia system can be at tim es a progressive force. This happens, for exam ple, w here it enters national m arkets in Europe that have traditionally been tightly controlled by corrupt adm inistrations or w here there has been significant state censorship. Also w e can all agree that the developm ent of new technologies can offer unprecedented opportunities for ordinary people to participate in the dem ocratic process. T HE SURVEY

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But these progressive aspects of the globalisation of m edia should not be exaggerated. We have seen how m edia corporations w ant to avoid rocking the boat, as long as they can do their business. Nor is it their intention to enhance public access to inform ation w hen they believe it can be delivered by them â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at an appropriate price. When com m ercial interests are set against dem ocratic or professional values it is inevitable that the interests of the m arket take priority. There is a discernible decline in standards o f repo rting and especially in the frequency, range and quality of in vestigative journalism . New spapers and netw ork television, in a panic over audiences, are universally addicted to tabloid values. Bizarre changes in the new s agenda have been accom panied by a rise in intrusive television focused on m indless and trivial program m ing. We see the eclipse of serious political and social debate in favour of tasteless voyeurism and prurient entertainm ent. Advertising has alw ays been vital to traditional media, but in the global economy it is becoming ever more important and is already im posing intolerable pressures on editorial departments. Journalists are increasingly expected to produce material to suit the interests of sponsors and advertisers. The traditional lines betw een advertising and editorial content are blurring if not altogether disappearing. At the same time investment in journalism has fallen. As advertising-driven content becom es an increasingly im portant source of corporate profit, severe cuts have been imposed in editorial budgets that have reduced quality. Where editorial managers now perceive that certain areas of journalism are not com m ercially interesting â&#x20AC;&#x201C; investigative journalism or coverage of foreign affairs, for instance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they are discouraged as being too expensive. The reduction of coverage of foreign affairs by prom inent national m edia is evident in all countries and has led to a reliance on m aterial from a sm all num ber of sources, 66

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m ainly established new s agencies and a tiny group of broadcast netw orks w ith global reach. Cuts in editorial budgets have additionally depressed the capacity for research. Although the use of Internet has m ade life m uch easier for desk-bound journalists, the advantages and potential dangers are not fully explored. The pressure is, instead, to produce editorial m aterial to satisfy sponsors and advertisers. This has seen an explosion in publicity journalism – for instance, “advertorials” – that is replacing editorial m aterial norm ally produced according to higher standards of independent journalism . While this decline in new sroom quality has taken place an equally dram atic change can be seen in the social conditions of journalists. The social dialogue process launched by the European Union around the European Works Council Directive has been least successful in the m edia sector, largely due to vigorous opposition from private m edia. In addition, there is less investm ent in professional training. Alm ost no professional training is provided by m edia com panies for freelance staff. There have been cuts in training arrangem ents for full-tim e staff, both in the entry level and in m id-career courses. Too often, the im pact of these trends on content is the loss of journalistic edge. But isolated voices of protest, no matter how eloquent, are not enough to turn the tide in favour of a return to publicspirited jo urnalism. What is urgently needed, instead, is an organised challenge to the disturbing national and international trend tow ards corporate control. In spite of long-established com m itm ents from both the Council of Europe and the European Union to recognise the cultural and social value of m edia products, the distinctly European quality of m edia organisation – especially in the area of public broadcasting continues to be underm ined at national and regional level. We are still w aiting, as w e have been for m any years, for the European Union to respond to the challenge of m edia concentration. T HE SURVEY

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Nevertheless, the loss of public interest values, particularly in the public sector of European broadcasting, could have a devastating effect, not only on the w ork of journalists and other cultural w orkers but also on the quality of dem ocratic exchange in Europe.

The sam ple of journalists in this study to w hom the questionnaires have been sent, only includes w ithin those eight countries, those w orking for daily new spapers. How ever, quite a num ber of filled in questionnaires w ere sent in by journalists from electronic m edia, radio, television, m agazines, or new s agencies. A num ber of respondents also w orked for m ore than one paper or com pany: freelancers w orking for radio stations as w ell as new spapers, for w eekly m agazines as w ell as dailies, w riting for new s agencies as w ell as feature stories for different m agazines, and increasingly w orking for Internet publication in addition. The phenom enon of m edia concentration and foreign investm ent is, of course, not lim ited to print m edia. Unfortunately the study in hand had to restrict itself to daily new spapers and thus can only serve as a first oversight on m edia concentration and the im pact on professional journalism . Not including journalists from other sectors does not m ean they don’t have any problem s, nor does it m ean that the w ork of the O SCE Representative does not include them . “I am w orking for Germ an Television and I ask m yself w hy you are only looking into the new spaper m arket. Sorry, but I think that television is m ore im portant in influencing people’s minds than new spapers, and therefore special attention should be paid to the quality and independence of TV journalists. The effects of concentration, cost control and profit m axim isation are devastating, both to the quality of program m es AND the w orking conditions of journalists. During the last tw o to three years, w orking conditions have 68

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been going from bad to w orse. Working an 80 hour w eek is no exception, w ages are in free fall, and people are hired and fired at random – these are often illegal practices but nobody cares. Instead of em ploying experienced journalists, editors-in-chief prefer placem ent students – because they are cheaper. I know people w ho have been told on a Thursday night in April that they need not com e back on Monday – although they had a contract until the end of the year. Placem ent students, w ho do not know w hether Arafat is Palestinian or Jew ish, edit the new s about the peace process in the Middle East ... As I see it, this is a return to brutal early capitalism , w hen the sm all people depended com pletely on the m ercy of the big bosses. It is a danger to dem ocracy – and the destruction of a profession. I personally do not know any TV journalists w ho still love their job. Most w ant to leave.” Anonym ous Germ an Journalist

In addition, this study does not ignore that foreign investment is not limited to the respective country’s print media. There are various degrees of cross-ow nership betw een print m edia and electronic media. In Germany, for example, local and regional daily new spaper publishing houses are very m uch linked to regional com m ercial radio stations, w hereas Lithuania w as reported to have a rather distinct differentiation betw een the ow ners of new spapers and electronic media. But w hile in Lithuania virtually all TV stations are ow ned by foreign capital, the TV landscape in Germany is to a large extent in the hands of German companies. In Romania a lot of vertical cross-ow nership can be seen: the same company ow ns TV programmes, radio stations, new spapers and magazines, printing plants and distribution netw orks. Then again, this phenom enon of vertical concentration is not a Romanian peculiarity. This is to say that the results of this study m ainly reflect answ ers from journalists from dailies, but that the trends show n T HE SURVEY

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m ay w ell be true for journalists from other m edia as w ell. The study gives a first im pression of the changing situation of professional journalism and outlines the field of still necessary research. The researchers of this study w ant to explicitly thank the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). Their studies “European Media O w nership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of w ho ow ns w hat in Europe” (2002) and “Eastern Em pires. Foreign Media O w nership in Central and Eastern European Media: O w nership, Policy Issues and Strategies” (2003) have been a valuable source of inform ation for this publication.

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3 . Ge ne ral Surve y Re s ults

Dialogue is the m ost efficient w ay to either prevent or to solve open conflict. For dialogue to succeed know ledgeable representatives, w ho are accepted by all sides, are needed. In the industrial w orld dialogue betw een the w orkforce of one given category and their em ployers is conducted by industrial unions on one side and industrialist associations on the other side. O n the low er level of individual com panies it has been long standing practise for w orkers to elect a w orks council, w hich is to act as their representative organ in any dispute w ith the com pany’s ow ner(s) and/or m anagem ent. The reason for the existence of such institutions is to increase the w eak bargaining position of the individual w orker through the support of the collective w orkforce. The rights of such w orks councils to participate in strategic decisions concerning the future of the com pany vary w idely from country to country. Probably the m ost extensive interpretation of functions and rights of the w orks council is to be found in the Germ an “Betriebsrat” m odel. In m any other system s, how ever, the function of the w orks council is lim ited to the right of the w orkforce to be represented w ithout the right to partake in the decision m aking process. How ever influential the institution of such w orks councils is defined, it does not seem to be very m uch in favour w ith the daily new spaper industry. Little less than half of the journalists contacted for this survey enjoy this basic form of organized industrial relationship at all. (Fig. 1) G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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Is there a w orks council at your new paper?

No

Yes 49 0

10

20

30

Fig. 1

40

50

60

70

51

80

90

100

The im portance of such collective representation can be explained by connecting the results of Figure 1 w ith the answ ers show n in Figure 2. The m ajority of participants in this survey or 62.6 per cent, rate the influence of their w ork council from “very influential” to at least “influential”. In other w ords, m ore than half of the journalists w ho responded to the questionnaire do have the im pression that they are considered – nolens volens – as a serious counterpart by their em ployers. Individual interview s conducted w ith journalists during this survey indicate that the total dissatisfaction rate of 37.5 per cent depends either on w eaknesses w ithin the national labour law s as such or, as in m any cases, for exam ple, in Italy, on the personal conviction of not having elected the right people into the w ork council. Being considered as a valuable partner by the ow ners/m anagem ent is an im portant ingredient to overall job satisfaction for every em ployee. In daily new spaper com panies this feeling is, how ever, of particular significance, as it indicates a general understanding betw een ow ners and/or m anagem ent and the How influential is this w orks council on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being ”very influential“ and 5 being ”not influential at all“?

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 2 1,6

0

72

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30

ON

40

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50


w riting staff about both the editorial line and content of the paper. Being that quality journalism is an activity based on intellectual integrity, such com m on ground is essential for the w illingness to strive for journalistic excellence. The m edia business is probably the only industrial sector in w hich no com pany can live from the sales of its produce alone. As quality journalism has no equivalent and can not be substituted even in part, by technological progress, fix costs for journalistic staff rem ain the heaviest and alm ost invariable burden on the budget of every m edia com pany. At the sam e tim e, the dem ocratic necessity of m edia pluralism and diversity as w ell as the regional or local character of m ost new spapers keep the number of potential buyers of each media outlet below even the break even line. To stay on the m arket, new spapers, radio and television broadcasters, as w ell as inform ation providers on the internet, w ill therefore need external financing either through selling advertisem ent space or through public funding. At a first glance, selling space for advertisem ent m ight appear as the “proper” w ay to do business in a free m arket system . Those m edia w hich have the greatest appeal to their potential clients w ill clinch the biggest advertisem ent contracts. To use a variation of President Bill Clinton’s fam ous election cam paign rem ark: That’s com petition, stupid! This equation, how ever, is not w ithout risks. As long as the overall econom y is healthy, com panies do have enough m oney for advertisem ent. Lim ited advertisem ent space in the m edia w ill create a clim ate of com petition betw een potential advertisers w hich in turn guarantees the editorial independence of the m edia. That, at least, is the theory. In tim es of econom ic dow nturn, how ever, this equation demonstrates its flaw s. When low er consum er spending results in the industry generating few er advertisem ent cam paigns, the lion’s share of advertisem ent G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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w ill go to television, this being the prim e choice m edia sector of the average consum er. New spapers on the other hand have few chances to reduce their operating costs if they w ant to stay in quality journalism . In order not to jeopardize their incom e generated by advertisem ent, they w ill be reluctant to publish anything w hich m ight strike at the interests of their advertising clients. And – bang! – goes editorial independence. O ne has to decide for oneself w hich version of editorial dependence is w orse. The Rom anian version, w here professional journalists are forced to w rite “big articles about fashion, because fashion firm s buy lots of advertisem ent space”, or the British version, in w hich “O ne m ajor advertiser contacted our previous m anager to ask him not run a story about a consum er com plaint. The story w as pulled”. Tw enty-six per cent of the journalists contacted during this survey admitted that advertisers have an influence on the editorial line of their new spaper. (Fig. 3) This m eans that w hen it comes to information concerning advertisement clients and their environment, only three out of four new spapers can be trusted. The sarcastic com m ent of a British journalist to the question, w hether the editorial line of his paper w as independent from advertisement influence, simply read: “Money talks!” It w ould be extrem ely short sighted to consider a situation as satisfactory, in w hich the editorial line of “only” one-quarter of the new spapers is influenced by advertisem ent funds. As nobody can be absolutely sure w hich inform ation to trust, credibility of daily new spapers as a w hole w ill suffer! Does advertisement influence the editorial line of your new spaper? No

Yes 26 0

74

10

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30

40

50

C O NCENTRATIO N

ON

60

Fig. 3

74

70

80

90

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When it comes to the rating of How important are the following criteria for the editorial line of your paper on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 stands for ”very important” and 5 stands for ”not important at all”? journalists seem to have little doubt. Good old professional standards appear to be still very much en vogue. There are, how ever, a number of contradictions w hich suggest that quite a few of the answ ers received w ere dictated more by w ishful thinking than reality. Even though 11.6 per cent of the participants of this survey admit openly, that “truth” is not an important factor for the editorial line of their papers, for the vast majority of journalists the “truth” factor remains a top priority. This judgement is absolutely in line w ith all ethical standards of the profession. (Fig. 4) Truth (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 4 57,1 20,5 10,7

3,6 8,0

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

This impression seems to be confirmed by the ratings for “objectivity”: 83.3 per cent of the answ ers to this survey labelled this factor as being im portant to very im portant for the editorial line of their new spaper. (Fig. 5) Objectivity (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 5 36,5 23 23,8

7,9 8,7

10

20

30

40

50

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Economic revenue (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 6 27,3

15,5 27,3 19,1 10,9

0

10

20

30

40

50

The term “editorial line” includes everything that has to do w ith the content of the new spaper. Even though it is the publisher’s right to define the general editorial direction of his paper, decisions on daily content fall into the realm of the editor-in-chief and his staff of journalists. At the end of the day, of course, editorial qualities are m easured by sales num bers at the new s-stands and the num bers of subscribers. Still, for the editor of a quality paper the need to generate econom ic revenue w ill alw ays be on a separate level from the content driven “editorial line”. Considering the new spapers’ dependency on advertisem ent revenues it is, how ever, difficult to perceive how the high ratings for truth and objectivity can, especially in tim es of econom ic crisis, be brought in line w ith the 70.1 per cent of participants in this survey w ho consider econom ic revenue to be an im portant, to very im portant factor for the editorial line of their new spaper. (Fig. 6) Even w orse: As the sources for new spaper revenues are lim ited to sales of copies and space for advertisem ent, the high percentage of journalists w ho considered econom ic revenue as being am ong the top priorities for editorial decisions, contradicts the m ere 26 per cent of those w ho adm itted to the editorial line being influenced by incom e from advertisem ent. The im pression is that grow ing econom ic difficulties of an increasing num ber of new spapers force editors aw ay from their 76

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In-depth reporting (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 7 17,5 27,2 29,8

15,8 9,6

0

10

20

30

40

50

genuine duty of providing quality content and into dam aging com prom ises w ith outside sources of econom ic revenue, such as advertisers. Still, w hen it com es to the professional qualities of their w ork, 74.5 per cent of the journalists m aintain the value of in-depth reporting as being im portant for the editorial standards of their new spaper. (Fig. 7) Investigative journalism is the m ost expensive form of journalism , as there is no guarantee for success. Som ew here dow n the road, stories that seem ed to prom ise explosive revelations may suddenly vanish into thin air. Especially in tim es of scarce financial resources it takes a remarkable amount of courage for any editor to engage in investigative journalism . 59.1 per cent of the participants in this survey denied that the editorial line of their paper is influenced by any form of loyalty to political ideologies or parties. (Fig. 8) That leaves, on the other side, 40.9 per cent of the participants w ho m ust, to varying degrees, follow political ideas Political loyality (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 8

10,4 9,6 20,9 33,0 26,1

10

20

30

40

50

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Good relations w ith the business community (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 9

20,2 14,0 32,5 23,7 9,6

0

10

20

30

40

50

form ulated outside of their editors’ offices. Som e of them explained in other parts of the questionnaire that they w ork for daily papers affiliated either directly to a political party or to a trade union or professional association. O thers, how ever, show ed open contempt for their editors for succumbing to political pressure. A Romanian journalist had only tw o w ords to say on w ho defines the editorial line of his paper: “Good question!” Such a rem ark is a heart w arm ing reaction, as the term “free and independent m edia” obliges political parties and authorities also, to abstain from any attem pt to exert influence on the editorial line of the m edia in general, and daily new spapers in particular. This is particularly im portant, as the governm ents of each of the eight countries included in this survey are signatories to the perm anent Council’s decision to install a Representative on Freedom of the Media. The adoption of his m andate indicates the acceptance of precisely defined obligations! Th e sam e criticism applies to th e editorial lin e of 66.7 per cent of the responding journalists, w ho define “good relation s w ith th e busin ess com m un ity” to be im portan t to very im portan t. (Fig. 9) Q uality new spapers do m aintain good relations to all sectors of society and therefore to the business com m unity as w ell. This is both necessary for having access to quality inform ation and for being capable of fulfilling the role as sponsor of social cohesion. Good relations, how ever, have nothing to do w ith the 78

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Credibility and readership (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 10 46,6 24,1

13,8 5,2 10,3

0

10

20

30

40

50

editorial line, w hich should be guided, am ongst other things, by the other essential role of the press: the role of w atchdog over political and corporate pow ers and their interests. Both figures 8 and 9 demonstrate that journalists w orking w ith daily new spapers can not necessarily exercise their professional objectivity w hen it comes to reporting on either the political sphere or the business community. Such shortcom ings w ill not go unnoticed by the readers. New spapers succum bing to such influence from the outside are destroying the very foundations of their existence. They are bound to lose their credibility. Whenever som eone is asking for tw o contradictory things to happen sim ultaneously, the Rom ans have but one short clipping question: You w ant to keep the barrel full of w ine and your w om an drunk, too? This com m ent com es to m ind w hen looking at those 84.5 per cent of the journalists, w ho defined credibility w ith their readers as being im portant to very im portant for the editorial line of their paper. (Fig. 10) How does a new spaper retain credibility w ith its readership, w hen the editorial line keeps the quest for truth and objectivity as high a priority as econom ic revenues, considering that a big chunk of these revenues depends on advertisers w ho are free to choose the new spaper closest to their interests to place their advertisem ents? G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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Further, how can a new spaper, w hose editor-in-chief is bound by political loyalty and w ho w orks hard to keep good relations w ith the business com m unity, pretend to be credibly independent in its reporting on either political or industrial issues? It sim ply seem s to happen w ithout any bad intent. “O ld boy” netw orks are created at school or university. O ne of the friends later goes into politics, another one runs a successful business, and their com m on friend has em erged from the journalistic treadm ill as editor-in-chief of an im portant new spaper. There is, after all, nothing w rong w ith old friends getting together, right? But there is a fine line of distinction betw een just m eeting old friends and being “only a w eenie little bit” at their disposal. It needs strong character and professional ethics for a journalist to sit regularly at the tables of the pow ers-that-be w ithout getting seduced by the illusion of being one of the hosts! This is a particularly dem anding task in tim es w hen new spapers have to fight for their econom ic survival. Without a reliable substitute to advertisem ent revenues daily new spaper editors have little alternative than to bow to the grow ing pressure from politics and industry. “The boss of a prosperous quarrying firm threatened m y ow n sm all local publication w ith legal action over criticism over environm ental im pact on the village”, reported one British journalist. “We are editing our content according to the w ishes of our advertisers”, reads one com m ent from Germ any. “O ur publishers use the papers as a political instrum ent”, is the com plaint of an Italian journalist. Talking to Western European journalists, one gets the clear im pression that the fine line of distinction betw een just being friends and respecting the paper’s editorial independence is constantly violated by both sides. Journalists becom e politicians. Politicians w rite for new spapers. Both are in close relation w ith big business. 80

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Cross-m edia ow nership can be regulated by law. But it is the creeping virus of cross sector counselling behind the scenes that puts the credibility of Western European m edia in general, and daily new spapers in particular, at risk. It is no w onder that Western European m edia consum ers are getting increasingly sceptical about the quality and correctness of the inform ation they are presented w ith. Distrust of the honesty of inform ation published by the m edia has been norm ality for consum ers in Central and Eastern European countries for half a century. More than a decade after the collapse of the old regim es, daily new spapers have still not m anaged to bridge this credibility gap com pletely. In m any cases this has to do w ith the journalists’ ow n understanding of their socio-political role. Being the elder generation educated to be “faithful soldiers of the party”, they sometimes find it difficult to exercise their professional duty as w atchdogs over political and industrial pow er holders. The younger generation of journalists often lack the training necessary to hone their professional skills and ethics. The latter, unfortunately, has not so far been on top of the agenda of foreign investors. If possible, the Central and Eastern European pow er netw orking is even more complex than in Western Europe. Not only is it understandably difficult to accept new rules of a hitherto unknow n game called democracy over night, but old and new elites are still fighting for positions in the emerging political order. This keeps professional journalism in these countries in limbo. Be it a close relative of a high ranking Romanian politician w ho gets hold of one of the biggest national dailies; or the polish film producer w ho asked for US$ 17.5 million in exchange for him lobbying for a new media law, w hich w ould have allow ed for low er barriers to cross-ow nership – scandals like these are still happening all over Central and Eastern Europe. G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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Service for civil society (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 11 21,7 23,6 34,9

13,2 6,6

10

20

30

40

50

The problem is that politicians, industrialists and, of course, professional journalists in Central and Eastern Europe in m any instances do not get the right signals from Western European elites. Instead of being too cosy w ith the pow erful, the journalistic m essage from Western Europe should be that new spapers gain their credibility only on m erit of full intellectual and ideological independence. Yet there are glimmers of hope. New spapers may be subjected to outside pressure, but journalists insist on â&#x20AC;&#x153;service for civil societyâ&#x20AC;? (Fig. 11) and Strengthening of the democratic process (Fig. 12) as being important to very important criteria for the editorial line of their papers. Striving for these objectives is considered an integral part of the profession alm ost equally am ong Western European journalists and journalists from CEE countries included in this survey. It is, how ever, im portant to rem em ber that both civil society and dem ocracy can only flourish w here pluralism and content diversity of the m edia is guaranteed. For that purpose it needs free and independent professional journalists. When politics and industry abuse the econom ic w eakness of new spapers, freedom of the m edia and w ith it civil society and dem ocracy w ill inevitably suffer. O ne of the m eans to safeguard the independence of professional journalism is for m edia com panies to put internal rules 82

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Strengthening of democratic process (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 12

26,5 23,0 21,2 15,9 13,3

0

10

20

30

40

50

in place that protect journalists from pressure both from w ithin and outside the com pany. In contrast to form er experim ents w ith so called editorial statutes, w hich gave editors and journalists certain rights to interfere w ith purely entrepreneurial decisions, such rules offer clear guidelines to both the journalist and their “targets” of research and investigation about w hat to do and w hat not to do. O ne such rule used in m any new spapers is that reim bursem ents of travel expenses by third parties are not acceptable. Another disposition w ould be the clear order to journalists never to accept gifts or any kind of benefits they m ay be offered. At the sam e tim e such internal rules norm ally include a clear divide betw een editorial responsibilities and those of general m anagem ent and m arketing in particular, as w ell as full protection of the journalists’ independence against unw arranted pressure or even outright blackm ailing. The Norw egian Publishing group O rkla has been one of the first m edia com panies to introduce a com prehensive set of rules to safeguard the editorial independence of their new spapers. These “Publishing Principles” have been extended by O rkla to all m edia acquisitions in Central and Eastern European countries. It seems as if the idea of safeguarding editorial independence is slow ly catching up w ith the industry. Recently, other media groups such as the German Springer Verlag have introduced similar principles as w ell. The German WAZ group has not issued G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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The Norw egian media house ORKLA issued “Publishing Principles” that guarantee for the editorial independence of their newspapers. Is there a similar kind of guideline in your company? Fig. 13

No

Yes 67 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

33

90

100

proper guidelin es but h as adh ered to a set of prin cip les o n editorial independence outlined by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. All in all, 33 per cent of the journalists contacted for this survey are w orking under a corporate protection schem e like or sim ilar to the O rkla-Principles. (Fig. 13) The fact that 89 per cent of the returned answ ers indicate the desire to see such principles established in their ow n w orking environm ent is, how ever, indicative of the level of today’s professional insecurity in w hich journalists have to w ork. (Fig. 14) The com m ents on this specific topic m ade by m any journalists contacted directly for this survey suggest that lack of inform ation on how to deal w ith a structurally changing professional environm ent is one of the m ain reasons for increasing frictions betw een m anagem ent and the editorial staff. This in turn results in grow ing concerns over job security and grow ing preparedness to com prom ise on journalistic standards and professional ethics. Working under a set of rules, w hich do not curtail the publisher’s entrepreneurial rights and w hich at the sam e tim e offer the journalists better protection against unjust pressures w ould, therefore, be helpful in m aintaining high quality standards even during periods of structural changes of the new spaper’s econom ic environm ent. 84

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Would you prefer having guidelines such as these?

No

Yes 89 0

10

20

30

40

50

Fig. 14

60

70

80

90

11

100

That som e kind of protection of professional journalists is needed urgently, is dem onstrated by the fact that no less than 40 per cent of the participants of this survey do not feel free to express a personal opinion w hich differs from the official editorial line of their paper. (Fig.15) While his ow nership title leaves the right to decide on the general editorial line exclusively w ith the publisher, the principle of com pany internal pluralism of opinion has to be safeguarded as w ell. The publisher, and on his behalf the editor-inchief, m ay decide not to publish an article or an opinion of one particular journalist. Voicing or w riting factually true and verifiable, but differing opinions, how ever, can not be tolerated as being detrim ental to the professional position of the journalist. True journalism has alw ays to do w ith questioning official lines and m ainstream opinions. It needs a certain am ount of courage to do so. Lim iting journalists in exercising this part of their professional duties is one im portant step tow ards the end of a free m edia. Do you feel free to voice and write your personal opinion, even Fig. 15 if it differs from the official line of the paper?

No

Yes 60 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

40

80

90

100

The feeling of not being free to express oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s personal opinion increases once it becom es editorial policy to pressure journalists into not researching and/or w riting on certain subjects or events. In one w ay or another, this is the case for one-quarter of the participants in this survey. (Fig. 16) G ENERAL SURVEY RESULTS

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Have you ever been put under pressure by your editor not to Fig. 16 w rite about certain events or subjects?

No

Yes 25 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

75

70

80

90

100

It is probably no coincidence that this figure roughly com pares to the num ber of journalists w ho adm itted the editorial line of their paper is influenced by advertisem ent. During individual interview s conducted for this survey, journalists described in detail their im pression of this pressure not to investigate into certain areas as increasing proportionally to the grow ing econom ic difficulties of their new spaper. Follow ing this line of thought the num ber of cases w here journalists are prohibited to w ork on certain issues is bound to increase. And every additional such case m eans a little less freedom of the m edia. It has to be understood that the notion of a com pletely free and independent m edia has at all tim es been m ore of a theoretical principle than editorial reality. There have alw ays been journalists w ho encountered editorial difficulties w hen w orking on subjects put off-lim its by either the publisher or the editor. While such professional impediments are not acceptable in principle, they are a fact of life for every journalist. In a free m arket system no journalist is forced to w ork for a publisher or editor w ho violates basic ethical standards of the profession. But that notion of a free and open labour m arket for journalists is theory, too. Practically, journalists have no choice in tim es of econom ic dow nturn than to accept the editorial dictate. When publishing houses have to com pete for few er advertisem ents, generated by a slum ping industry, editorial dissent is less likely to be tolerated. Dim inished advertisem ent revenues force publishers into cost cutting operations. O nce staff 86

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reduction is on the table, the first to go w ill be the editorial â&#x20AC;&#x153;dissidentsâ&#x20AC;?. During tim es of econom ic recession the chances for journalists to change to another employer are practically nil. Grow ing editorial pressure m akes for m ore com petition am ong journalists. That in itself does not m ean negative effects on the quality of professional journalism . O n the contrary, journalists w ho feel com pelled to look m ore actively for stories able to generate w ide public interest are definitely bettering their position as an asset to their editor. Com petition am ong journalists w ill, how ever, becom e detrimental once it is combined w ith pressure from inside or outside the editorial environment as described above. If increased competition is meant to create a more homologated and less courageous editorial staff, the very notion of professional journalism as an independent and critical observer of society is at risk. During this survey journalists and unionists of several countries asked for the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media to develop general guidelines to prevent com petition enhancing m easures to be used as career blocking instrum ents against individual journalists.

How w ould you describe the situation among the w riting staff Fig. 17 of your paper? (%) Relaxed 27,6

Com petitive 37,9

Increasingly com petitive 19,8

Highly com petitive 11,2

Extrem ely com petitive 3,4

0

10

20

30

40

50

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Do you feel threatened in your position by the increasing Fig. 18 usage of freelance journalists?(%)

No

Yes 16 0

10

20

30

40

50

84

60

70

80

90

100

Freelancing journalists are an essential part of a free m edia system . They often specialize in subjects that fully em ployed staff w riters do not have the tim e or the necessary contacts for. Freelancers ought to exist, as they contribute w idely to pluralism and diversity of the m edia. This said, freelancers should never been used by editors as a m eans to threaten the livelihood of fully em ployed professional journalists. Especially in tim es of econom ic difficulties, freelancers becom e an interesting option for publishers and editors-in-chief alike. As freelancers receive neither fixed salaries nor are they included into the com panyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s insurance and pension schem es, they place a m uch lighter financial burden on the editorial budget. In addition, freelancers are, because of their dependency on being com m issioned for each separate article, m uch m ore m anageable than their fully em ployed colleagues. Sixteen per cent of participants w ho feel threatened by the increasing use of freelance journalists m ay not seem to justify a sense of preoccupation. (Fig. 18) The overw helm ing m ajority of journalists contacted do not consider freelancers as unfair and dangerous rivals to their full em ploym ent status. O n the other hand, it can not be denied that a diffuse sentim ent of insecurity am ong fully em ployed journalists is on the rise. This feeling of insecurity is also highlighted by the received answ ers on how professional journalists think they are considered w ithin their organization. 88

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Do you think ow nership and management of your paper consider the w riting staff of the company more as an asset Fig. 19 or rather as less important?

Less im portant

Asset 61 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

39

100

If the new spaper is nothing but the packaging of the real product, i.e. the journalistic content, journalists should be thought of as the m ost im portant asset of their com pany. This is, as Fig. 19 show s, still the case in the m ajority of cases. Sixty-one per cent of the participants in this survey do believe to be held in high esteem by their em ployers. More than one-third, how ever, have serious doubts about their position. “I often feel if they could get aw ay w ith producing an alladvertising publication they’d be happier. They don’t understand w hat new spaper people are or do, and therefore don’t understand w hy w e can’t be run like they w ould run a callcentre or som ething”. This particularly frank statem ent com ing from the United Kingdom w as one of the saddest answ ers received during this survey. It dem onstrates clearly w hat kind of im pact econom ic recession follow ed by concentration is having on professional journalism .

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4 . N um be r o f Title s and Re ade rs hip Structure

Number of titles/ adult population (titles per million) 5,4

Germ any

12,4

Finland United Kingdom

2,3

Hungary

4,6 1,8

Italy

1,5

Poland

2,5

0

Rom ania

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

Number of Titles Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.66

The above graph show s that the num ber of titles per adult population (titles per m illion) is differing significantly throughout the exem plary countries of this study.

66 Data for Lithuania w as not provided

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Average circulation/ adult population (copies per thousand) 2002 332,8

Germ any

531,8

Finland United Kingdom

402,4 Hungary

191,8 117,9

Italy

116,1

Poland

70,0 Rom ania

0

100

200

300

400

500

600

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.67

Newspaper reach (% of all adults) 77,3

Germ any Finland

86,0 31,1

United Kingdom

30,1

Hungary Italy

40,1

Poland

31,7 Rom ania

15,0

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003. 67 Data for Lithuania w as not provided

92

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5 . Co untry Re po rts

5.1 Germany 5.1.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Berlin

Population 2003

(m illion) 82.5

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 23,560

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

Germ any is one of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest m edia m arkets not only for TV but also for print m edia. The process of concentration on the new spaper m arket is considerable and the reduction of advertisem ent revenue is putting m edia outlets under financial pressure.

Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

395

25500

390

25000 24500

385

24000

380

23500

375

23000

370

22500

365 Titles

22000 1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003. C O UNTRY REPO RTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; G ERMANY

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The data provided by the World Association of New spapers (WAN) show s a continuous decrease of both the num ber of daily new spaper titles and circulation in the years 1998 to 2002. New spaper reach (%) All Adults

77.3

Men

79.9

Wom en

75.8

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

The three largest publishing com panies are Axel Springer Verlag, Verlagsgruppe WAZ and SĂźdwestdeutsche M edien Holding. All these com panies have investm ents in other m edia sectors as w ell as in foreign m edia m arkets. The m edia landscape of Germ an daily new spapers is highly regionalized, as can be seen in the large num ber of titles in the relevant graph. O n a regional and local level concentration of new spapers is considerably high, but on a national level the m ajor dailies belong to different com panies. Although Germ anyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regional press has a large num ber of titles, w hich m ight suggest it is locally produced and diverse in character, the bulk of editorial content is either produced in central offices or m any of the titles are linked w ith one another through an um brella agency.68 In the radio sector there are lots of investm ents by publishing houses but, how ever, Germ an legislation sees electronic m edia and printing houses as belonging to different m arkets. The sector of national dailies is dom inated by the Axel Springer title Bild (3,952,000)69 w hich sells m ore than ten tim es its nearest rival. How ever, the largest regional titles are sold nationw ide, for example, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (472,600), 94

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Süddeutsche Z eitung (463,000), Leipziger Volkszeitung (400,000), or Frankfurter Rundschau (210,000). Guetersloh based Bertelsm ann is Europe’s largest m edia enterprise and one of the top ten global m edia groups. Besides shares in broadcasting (RTL group) and the m agazine sector, Bertelsm ann’s daughter com pany Gruner+Jahr ow ns 11 stakes in the Germ an new spaper sector, e.g. Berliner Kurier, Berliner Z eitung, or Financial Times Deutschland. Like m any other m edia groups Bertelsm ann expanded its new spaper activities during the 1990s into the em erging CEE m arkets.70 With the exception of its activities in Poland and Russia, Bertelsm ann sold in O ctober 2003 all other stakes in the form er Yugoslavia, Rom ania and Slovakia to the Sw iss Ringier group . O ne of Germ any’s largest publishing houses, how ever, is Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, w hich is still ow ned by the Holtzbrinck fam ily. According to its corporate philosophy, quality and standards take precedence over profit m axim ization. Holtzbrinck’s portfolio includes Tagesspiegel, (150,000) Handelsblatt (150,000), and local papers like Saarbruecker Z eitung (182,000).71 Axel Springer Verlag AG, w hich claim s to be the largest new spaper publishing com pany in Europe also has broadcasting interests. Europe’s best selling national daily Bild w ith 31 regional editions belongs to Springer as w ell as Die Welt (220,000) and a num ber of regional and local papers. O utside Germ any Springer ow ns, for exam ple, eight daily regional titles 68 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 17. 69 Financial Times Germany (FTD), “Bild Auflage faellt unter 4 Millionen” (13 January 2003). 70 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership:Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 17. 71 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 18.

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in Hungary, but its m ain focus is m agazine publishing.72 It publishes 16 m agazines in Hungary, 14 in Poland and 8 in Rom ania but it is active in other CEE countries as w ell.73 Social dem ocrat-originated Westdeutsche Allgemeine Z eitung (WAZ ) expanded through acquisitions of regional papers in Germ any and post-1989 in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The group consists of m ore than 130 new spapers. The WAZ group is the second largest Germ an publishing house after Springer and publishes 28 daily new spapers w ith a total circulation of 4.3 m illion. It also has interests in 25 new spapers and 50 m agazines in CEE, e.g. in Bulgaria, Croatia, Rom ania (51 per cent stake in the daily Trustul des Presa N ational, 50 per cent stake in Romania Libre), and Hungary, w here WAZ publishes 5 dailies.74 Another Germ an publishing group, Passauer N eue Presse (PN P), hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t received m uch attention, but is expanding strongly tow ards Eastern Europe. From 1990 on the com pany started to acquire regional new spapers in the Czech Republic and by 2001 controlled nearly 100 per cent of the regional new spaper m arket and part of the national m arket through the acquisition of tw o national dailies Slovo and Z N Z emske N oviny. PNP also expanded into Poland in 1994, acquiring regional dailies and founding the regional title Polskapresse. Since 1999 they have also been active in Slovakia.75 The ongoing discussion about the m erger of tw o m ajor dailies in the capital Berlin, Holtzbrinck ow ned Tagesspiegel and Gruner+Jahrâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Berliner Z eitung, m ay serve as a good exam ple for the struggle for m arket shares. The publishing house Holtzbrinck w anted to take over Berliner Zeitung, but the m erger w as blocked by the Germ an Federal O ffice of Monopoly Control because of concerns that one com pany controlling both titles w ould dom inate the Berlin new spaper m arket. Another 96

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publisher, the Axel Springer Verlag feared that it w ould have to discontinue their national daily Welt once the tw o Berlin new spapers w ould m erge. Holtzbrinck used their right to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Econom y. How ever, before the m inisterial decision the Tagesspiegel w as sold to a form er Holtzbrinck m anager w ho is claim ed to be an independent actor, w hereas critics voice the opinion that he is just a front m an in this deal. Po sitio n o f ver.di by Ulrike M aercks-Franzen and Holger Wenk Especially compared to Central and Eastern Europe, Germany has long been considered “media’s paradise”. From the river Rhine to the O der, from the northern seas to the Alps, realists concede highly desirable conditions at least regarding w orking conditions and media pluralism. Almost 200 local, regional or national daily new spapers are printed in more then 130 publishing houses. German print media reach nearly 80 per cent of all households. This puts Germany w ithin in the top range w orldw ide. Rights and duties of publishers and journalists alike are regulated by each Land of the German Federation by its ow n media law s. Legal courts of all levels consider Freedom of O pinion and Freedom of the Press, as regulated by Art. 5 of the German constitution, of the utmost importance. To avoid state regulation or even censorship the media are governed by a common press council w hich can be addressed by each citizen. Even the fact that Germany has neither a law governing

72 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 19. 73 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign O wnership in Central and Eastern European M edia: O wnership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 8. 74 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels 2002) 20. 75 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ,Brussels, 2002) 4.

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specifically the Freedom of Information nor a federal media law does not indent this success story. Access to the journalistic profession is free. The lack of minimum standards for both education and training of journalists is not helpful, how ever, for increased journalistic quality. Industrial agreements for almost every area of life and w ork offer German new spaper journalists rather a comfortable level of security. Those agreements cover training as w ell as freelancing w ork and additional pension funds. Fix w orking hours, vacation, additional remuneration for holidays and Christmas as thirteenth and fourteenth monthly salary and an agreed salary increase after the third w orking year all guarantee a high standard for all those w orking to maintain the Freedom of the Press. The press card recognized by all interior ministers of the Federation offers help not only w hile exercising the profession. Smaller German publishing houses are protected by special competition rules against hostile take overs thus safeguarding pluralism against high levels of concentration. The Federal Anti-Cartel Authority w hich is attached to the Ministry of Economy, handles existing rules in a restrictive manner. Being economically strong because of their importance for the advertisement industry, new spapers, w ith the exception of a fifty per cent reduction on VAT, neither need, nor receive direct or indirect State subsidies. But since the economic crisis engulfed the advertisement industry in 2000, Germanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s print media paradise is lost. The opinion is mounting that the German print media industry is not just suffering from recession, but is facing a deep structural crisis. And as alw ays, mistakes made during times of peace are out for vengeance in times of w ar. Some research studies accuse publishers of not having pre-empted the move of classified ads to the internet and thus the loss of an important part of revenue. Credible models for the multiple use of content have not been developed. Companies have not been economically optimized. Content has not been improved and the attachment of readers to their papers has in some cases been neglected. 98

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A three directional strategy is w hat most publishers now see as the w ay out. Firstly, they w ant anti-trust regulations to be relaxed in order to ease buy outs. Secondly, they w ant to save massively on w riting and administrative staff as w ell as on fees. Thirdly, German publishing houses are expanding into Eastern European markets hoping for higher return on capital then on the national market. These activities are follow ed feverishly, w hile important home w ork like optimizing internal structures, profiling of products, new strategies for w ebsites and others are neglected. What w ill this three pronged strategy do to media concentration and professional journalism in Germany? According to first signs nothing good w ill come out of it. Several w aves of dismissals in a dozen publishing houses have pushed the numbers of jobless journalists to a new record high of roughly 10,000. While in the past dismissed journalists still had a chance to continue their profession – even though w ith notably less income, 60 hours per w eek and no vacation – today this is hardly possible. Contemporary to job cuts publishers decided to reduce editorial budgets. Consequently ever few er full time “editorial managers” and ever few er “editorial soldiers of fortune” have to fill the editorial part of the new spapers. Q uality no longer is an issue. Time consuming researches and personal intensive background reporting are w ritten off. Local editions are “chained” together or are stopped all together. Reporting from “on location” has been reduced drastically. At the publishing house Springer one editor-in-chief together w ith his editorial staff w ill do tw o and maybe even three new spapers. O ther publishing houses, w hich are follow ing this experiment w ith great interest, are planning similar strategies. Most national new spapers have discontinued their special reporting pages from the capital Berlin. O thers have closed their editorial part directed to youth or other special groups. With print figures shrinking and hence low er sales revenues, advertising clients and their budgets grow in importance. C O UNTRY REPO RTS – G ERMANY

99


Several new spapers offer their readers nothing more than mainstream material from new s agencies. Special interest sections like reporting on the media disappear all together. Fast new s and yellow press tabloid style high society reports fill the pages. Political propaganda and public relations material are published w ithout any filters or critical comment. Much of this material is done by freelancers w ho have sw itched from journalism to public relations and w ho do w ork as spokespersons, in advertising or PR agencies or at communications centers of political parties, associations and institutions. But even if big publishing houses like Springer and Holtzbrinck are allow ed to incorporate smaller titles thanks to relaxed anti-trust regulations, the negligence of the essential w atchdog role of the media w ill probably not disappear. This is especially true as publishers are not w illing to agree on any model to safeguard editorial independence. All kinds of direct or indirect State subsidies, like in almost a dozen other European countries, are refused by the publishers as w ell. The question remains on how media pluralism can be guaranteed in times of grow ing ow nership concentration! Especially damaging is a specific German rule w hich allow s publishers to realize the second and third part of their survival strategy. The rights of the w orks councils to co-decide on economic questions are very limited. Industrial representatives of the employees of the media sector are at the same time confronted w ith budgetary cuts for staff, salaries and fees w orth millions of Euro and investments in new titles or the acquisition of w hole publishing enterprises in EU Candidate States in Central and Eastern Europe. German publishing houses like WAZ care less about Freedom of the Press and journalistic diversity than about profits. In conclusion: the crisis is threatening media pluralism and journalistic professionalism in the apparent German â&#x20AC;&#x153;paradiseâ&#x20AC;?.

100

T HE IMPACT

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PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM


5.1.2 Survey Results Backed by traditionally strong labour unions, German w orkers enjoy w hat is probably the most elaborated model of w orks councils. O n a number of entrepreneurial decisions this “Betriebsrat” has to be consulted by the management. Even though in most cases the w orks council has no rights to decisional participation, the long standing German tradition of largely co-operative relations betw een both ow ners and Betriebsrat guarantee the w ork force an important degree of influence. This makes for a w idespread feeling of the w orkforce being adequately represented. The Betriebsrat schem e is also applied to the m ajority of daily new spapers. (Fig. 1) Is there a w orks council at your new paper?

Fig. 1

No

Yes 93 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

The most extensive interpretation of this model can be found at the Hamburg based media group “Der Spiegel”, w here the employees actually ow n 49 per cent of the company. The Spiegel model remains, how ever, an exception on the German media landscape and has over the years been repeatedly modified in order to facilitate entrepreneurial decision making processes. The returned questionnaires suggest that Germ an journalist still feel in-line on organized representation w ith w orkers and em ployees of other industrial sectors. O n average Germ an journalists seem to be quite satisfied w ith the effectiveness of their w ork councils. (Fig. 2) Trade unions do, how ever, sense a creeping and profound clim ate change in their relations to their industrialist counterparts. Econom ic stagnation has hit Germ any hard for the last three consecutive years. After almost a decade of fruitless debate C O UNTRY REPO RTS – G ERMANY

101


How influential is this w orks council on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being ”very influential“ and 5 being ”not influential at all“? Fig. 2

1 2 3 4 5

11,1 72,2 5,6

0

11,1

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

on social reforms the governing coalition of social democrats and the green party has finally em barked on an am bitious reform program m e m eant to overhaul m ost of the existing structures in the labour market, the pension and insurance schemes as w ell as public health service. If passed, these reform bills w ould change, am ong others, the Germ an labour m arket forever. The new law s w ould open up to the em ployers’ long standing request for lesser guarantees on job security, thus forcing the Germ an w ork force into high m obility gear. Em ployers w ould be entitled to m ake am ple use of tim e lim ited w ork contracts. What, under such circum stances w ill rem ain of the institution and the industrial rights of the w orks council, rem ains to be seen. O ther parts of the reform program m e do envisage facilitating com pany m ergers. An offer to open debate on this issue has already been m ade by the Chancellery to daily new spaper publishers in order to tackle grow ing financial and econom ic problem s of Germ an daily new spapers. Critics of such plans like the trade union ver.di, how ever, fear that m edia concentration, w hich is already on a high level in Germ any, w ill be further accelerated by such reform elem ents. According to ver.di m edia concentration in Germ any is picking up speed. 102

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Cross-ow nership has also increased since the liberalization of the electronic m edia m arket. Trade unions depict this developm ent as â&#x20AC;&#x153;w orryingâ&#x20AC;?, as the investm ent of daily new spapers, for exam ple, in privately ow ned radio stations are seen as a dangerous drainage of financial resources of daily papers. The combined immediate effects of lesser financial resources and the general econom ic slum p on the Germ an daily new spaper m arket are described by the unions as dim inishing journalistic freedom s, reducing journalistic pluralism and providing few er job opportunities for professional journalists. In m any areas industrial reality seem s to have anticipated political reform s by a large m argin. Already 31 per cent of the journalists contacted during this survey conceded the editorial line of their new spaper is influenced by advertisem ent. (Fig 3) Private reactions both from trade union representatives and individual journalists suggest that this developm ent is seen by the w riting staff of Germ an dailies as particularly w orrying. Does advertisement influence the editorial line of your new spaper? No

Yes 31 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Fig. 3

69

70

80

90

100

Still, w hen it com es to evaluating the editorial line of their new spapers Germ an professional journalists do not seem to have m uch reason to com plain.

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O n the question Ho w impo rtant are the fo llo w ing criteria fo r the edito rial line o f yo ur paper o n a scale fro m 1 to 5, w here 1 stands fo r “very impo rtant” and 5 stands fo r “no t impo rtant at all”? the results w ere surprisingly hom ogeneous. O ld-fashioned editorial values are cherished. If the rankings provided by the survey participants are to be believed, articles published by Germ an daily new spapers have to be first of all “true” (Fig. 4) and “objective”. (Fig. 5) Truth (%)

Fig. 4

1 2 3 4 5

77,8 22,2

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

The general socio-political environm ent w ould appear to be helpful in this regard. Both journalists and trade unions describe the level of outside interference by political or industrial pressure groups as very low. In such an environm ent the relatively high priority given to econom ic revenues as part of the editorial line gives no reason for concern. Daily new spapers are, after all, industrial enterprises. In addition, generating as m uch revenue as possible out Objectivity (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

104

T HE IMPACT

Fig. 5 42,1 42,1

10,5 5,2

10 O F M EDIA

20

C O NCENTRATIO N

30

ON

40

PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM

50


Economic revenue (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 6 30,0

15,0 30,0 25,0

0

10

20

30

40

50

of quality journalism reduces the dependency on other incom e such as advertisem ent. (Fig 6) The overall positive im pression that Germ an journalists present of the editorial line of their new spapers is further enhanced by the im portance in-depth reporting. (Fig. 7) Serious investigative journalism is by definition the m ost challenging, the m ost expensive and the less predictable form of journalism . There is no guarantee for success. At the sam e tim e it is the one form of journalism that can be really disturbing for the pow ersthat-be. To keep truth, objectivity and in-depth research as the top priorities for the editorial line, even during difficult econom ic tim es, w ould put Germ an daily new spapers and their journalists am ong the European cham pions of a free and independent m edia. In-depth reporting (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 7 25,0 20,0 40,0

15,0

10

20

30

40

50

In addition , follow in g th e in dication s received from th e survey participan ts, m ost Germ an editors-in -ch ief an d th eir w ritin g staff are n ot guided by political loyalties. (Fig. 8) Th is is n ot to say th at th ey do n ot h ave to follow in prin ciple th e C O UNTRY REPO RTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; G ERMANY

105


Political loyality (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 8

5,2 36,8 57,8

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

editorial guidelines set in stone by the publisher’s political convictions. But at least according to the questionnaires returned and individual interview s, Germ an publishers concede am ple space for editorial interpretation of these guidelines. The daily new spapers’ interest in m aintaining their editorial independence is dem onstrated also, by the journalists’ im pression that good relations w ith the business com m unity in the sense of shady under-the-table deals, belong in the category of “don’ts” in Germ an journalism . (Fig 9) It com es as no surprise that credibility w ith the readership ranks top w ith Germ an editors-in-chief and their staff. (Fig 10) Good relations w ith the business community (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 9

15,7 36,8 26,3 21,0

0

10

20

30

40

50

Credibility and readership (%)

1 2 3 4 5

30,0 5,0

0

106

Fig. 10

T HE IMPACT

10 O F M EDIA

20

C O NCENTRATIO N

30

ON

40

50

PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM

60


Service for civil society (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 11 27,7 33,3 38,8

0

10

20

30

40

50

As does the aw areness of the journalistic duty to render service for the Germ an civil society; (Fig. 11) And finally the new spapers’ essential role in strengthening the dem ocratic process. (Fig 12) Strengthening of democratic process (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 12 33,3 44,4

16,6 5,6

10

20

30

40

50

M igh t Germ any be a journalist’s secret paradise? All w arnings received during private interview s about the detrim ental influence of advertisem ent on editorial content seem to have evaporated all of a sudden. No indication that such influence m ight have a negative im pact on the editorial line’s objectives of truth and objectivity. No hint that the trade union’s com plaint about dram atic changes in the relations betw een w orks councils and publishers m ight have at least a m inim um resem blance w ith reality. The overall positive picture of w orking conditions in the German daily new spaper environment surely continues unabated w ith 67 per cent of the participating journalists affirming to w ork under a regime similar to that of the O rkla-Principles on editorial independence. (Fig 13) C O UNTRY REPO RTS – G ERMANY

107


The Norw egian media house ORKLA issued “Publishing Principles” that guarantee for the editorial independence of their newspapers. Is there a similar kind of guideline in your company? Fig. 13

No

Yes 67 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

33

90

100

O rkla or sim ilar principles are in fashion both w ith journalists and their em ployers never m ind their political orientation. The latest Germ an m edia com pany to introduce such rules w as the conservative Ham burg/Berlin based Springer group. Germ an print m edia’s credibility has long suffered from the erroneous perception of being too close for com fort to either political parties or industrial interest groups. The reason for such a perception can be found in history. Early print m edia in Germ any w ere “children” of political and/or ideological areas of society. Credibility could be the m ost im portant card to play for publishers in their fight for w inning over a population w hich seem s, how ever, to be generally frustrated w ith Germ an m ass m edia. A survey conducted in 1990 show ed that 51 per cent of Germans w ould miss television. Ten years later this number had dropped by 7 points to only 44 per cent. O ver the sam e period of tim e the appreciation rate of daily new spapers dropped from 63 to 52 per cent.76 “O ur only chance to survive in the long run is to push for quality and credibility” said one Germ an publisher contacted for this survey. Journalists, on the other hand understand the m ain purpose of such internal statutes as to assist them in keeping their bearings w hile their professional w orld is undergoing dram atic structural changes. 108

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Understandably all Germ an journalists (100% ) contacted for this survey expressed their preference to w ork under sim ilar conditions as offered by O rkla oriented principles. The interest of Germ an journalists to see O rkla-style principles introduced show s that beneath the surface not everything is going as sm oothly as the previous answ ers m ight suggest. In stark contrast to the, so far, very positive picture only a small majority of journalists feel free to voice and w rite their personal opinion w hen it differs from their paper’s official line. (Fig. 14) Do you feel free to voice and write your personal opinion, even Fig. 14 if it differs from the official line of the paper?

No

Yes 57 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

43

80

90

100

Even though no open pressure is applied to prevent journalists from researching or w riting on certain events or subjects, participants of this survey, as w ell as trade unionists, report more sophisticated and subtle methods to keep the editorial staff in-line: “They (the m anagem ent) m ake us understand that w e should be happy to keep our jobs because there are enough people out there ready to replace us”. Creating fear and insecurity is a very efficient instrum ent not only to stream line the editorial content according to unspoken priorities. It quells even the slightest sign of dissent and m akes for an extrem ely unhealthy kind of com petition am ong journalists. Even though the m ajority of journalists contacted for this survey w ould describe the general clim ate at their daily paper as still being relaxed to m oderately com petitive, the pressure is on the rise. (Fig. 15) 76 Trends in der Nutzung und Bew ertung der Medien 1970 – 1990; Media Perspektiven 11/2001

C O UNTRY REPO RTS – G ERMANY

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How w ould you describe the situation among the w riting staff Fig. 15 of your paper? (%) Relaxed 25,0

Com petitive 43,7

Increasingly com petitive 31,2

Highly com petitive Extrem ely com petitive

0

10

20

30

40

50

Journalists of Germ an quality papers have alw ays considered them selves as an elite group, even though on the public’s social scale they never figured very prom inently. Mass firings of quality paper journalists did not exist, but “m anagem ent and editors are setting exam ples by firing colleagues.” The structural crisis Germ an daily new spapers are experiencing today has, how ever, elim inated m ost of the traditional certainties overnight. Even highly respected dailies like Sueddeutsche Z eitung or Frankfurter Allgemeine Z eitung had to go for m assive staff reductions. Scores of formerly fully employed journalists are joining the army of underpaid and easily manageable freelancers. Publishers and editors alike are w ell aw are of the advantages of such a developm ent. As one journalist put it: “The already sky high com petition am ong freelancers is on the rise because of the increase in numbers of freelancing journalists, putting additional econom ic pressure on them to sell their articles even cheaper”. The increased use of freelancing journalists adds to the grow ing feeling of insecurity am ongst fully em ployed professions. By now, 41 per cent of the survey’s participants do feel threatened by this developm ent. (Fig. 16) 110

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Do you feel threatened in your position by the increasing Fig. 16 usage of freelance journalists?(%)

No

Yes 41 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

59

70

80

90

100

Still, the majority of German daily new spaper journalists believe that they are considered by their em ployer as an asset for the company. “Having the competence on issues essential for a local new spaper, w e are considered as assets”. And “m anagem ent know s that should the quality of w riting and the variety of subjects dim inish there w ould be no readers left”. But a creeping feeling of existential fear am ong Germ an daily new spaper journalists is confirm ed by 43 per cent of the participants of this survey. (Fig. 17) “So far m y editor gives m e the im pression of being im portant for the paper. But I know perfectly w ell that I could easily be substituted”. The im pression confirm ed by a trade unionist is that “journalists have becom e less im portant in the daily new spaper business. Today it’s only the econom ic facts that count”. All in all Germ any m ay still have the im age of being professional journalists’ heaven. But there’s a clear and present danger that if the ongoing structural crisis is used to underm ine long standing ethical and professional standards, Germ any could turn into Europe’s lost paradise for Freedom of the Press. Do you think ow nership and management of your paper consider the w riting staff of the company more as an asset Fig. 17 or rather as less important?

Less im portant

Asset 57 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

43

90

100

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111


5.2 Finland

5.2.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Helsinki

Population 2003

(m illions) 5.2

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 23,780

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

Finland has a large new spaper m arket w ith a highly local character. Seventy-three per cent of Finlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s m edia advertising expenditure goes to the print sector. New spapers in Finland have a strong local character and a high proportion are ordered on annual subscriptions and delivered to hom es early each m orning.77

Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

395 57

25500 2360

390 56

25000 2340 24500 2320

385 55

24000 2300

380 54

23500 2280

375 53

23000 2260

370 52

22500 2240

365 51 Titles

22000 2220 1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003. 112

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As also seen in Germ any, the data provided by WAN show s a continuous decrease of both the num ber of daily new spaper titles and circulation in the years 1998 to 2002. New spaper reach (%) All Adults

86

Men

87

Wom en

84

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

89

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

The tw o largest national dailies, Helsingin Sanomat (circulation 440,000) and Ilta-Sanomat (218,000) both belong to the Sanom a WSO Y group. The third largest paper is the national evening paper Iltalehti (133,000), w hich is ow ned by Alpress, as is the largest regional daily Aahulehti (135,000). The w eekly editions of these papers are also the country’s m ost popular Sunday papers.78 The m ain m edia com panies in Finland are Sanom a WSO Y and Alm a Media. Helsinki based Sanom a WSO Y, w hich ow ns Finland’s tw o largest national dailies, as w ell as a num ber of local papers, printing plants and Channel Four TV station, is the second largest Nordic m edia group after the Sw edish Bonnier group. Follow ing the acquisition of parts of the Dutch VNU group the group is also present in Eastern, Central and Western Europe. Besides the leading role in the new spaper sector, Sanom a WSO Y publishes m agazines and books and ow ns inter alia the second com m ercial TV channel and Finland’s largest 77 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 11. 78 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 12.

C O UNTRY REPO RTS – FINLAND

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cable com pany. In addition, a vertical integration in the new spaper sector is achieved, for exam ple, by 13 printing plants and a couple of press distribution netw orks.79 Alm a Media, Finlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second largest m edia group, is the result of a 1998 m erger betw een Finnish publisher Aam uleheti and the com m ercial television group MTV Corporation. 26.8 per cent of Alm a Media, that is active in Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, is ow ned by the Sw edish Media Group Bonnier. Alm a ow ns a new spaper portfolio of 30 titles, regional papers and Finlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading com m ercial TV channel M TV3.80

79 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 12. 80 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 13.

114

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5.2.2 Survey Results Finland competes w ith Germany for the title of “European media paradise champion”. So convinced are Finnish print media journalists of the health of their sector that m ost of them did not feel com pelled to actively participate in this survey. Inform ation for this analysis had to be gathered by personal interview s w ith individual journalists and m edia experts. The surprised rem arks of one of the contacted journalists w ere revealing: “Negative impacts of media concentration on us journalists? At my paper w e are understaffed, because w e do not find enough journalists of sufficient talent and quality. The same applies to most other papers. I don’t know w hat you’re talking about!” This, of course, w as utter nonsense. Finnish journalists may have forgotten the im pact of structural changes in their business som e 20 years ago. Their professional freedom s m ay, so far, have survived largely unscathed. But m edia concentration has been and is happening in Finland, too. With such a sm all population and so m any m edia products, new spaper m arkets are nearly saturated. New niches are hard to find. “There is of course at present a lively and w ide discussion going on about problem s and effects of m edia concentration in Finland”, confirm s Finnish m edia expert Jyrki Jyrkiaeinen. This debate is happening for very good reason. Jyrkiaeinen calls it “indicative, that a new spaper w ith a circulation of over 90,000 copies, the oldest Finnish-language new spaper from 1847 and the second national daily proper, Uusi Suomi, had to discontinue in 1991. After that the national m arket niche of 7-day dailies w as left alone to Helsingin Sanomat.” The Finnish print m edia are, how ever, a rare exam ple of how concentration and cross ow nership issues can be handled w ithout having to com prom ise too m uch on either pluralism or content diversity. None of the journalists contacted for this C O UNTRY REPO RTS – FINLAND

115


survey could rem em ber a single case w here political or industrial pow er groups had tried to influence the editorial line of their paper. “O ur em ployers still consider their journalists as an asset, of course. But som etim es you w onder …” None of the participants, how ever, adm itted to threats or personal consequences for refusing to change the content of a story according to the w ishes of either publishers or editors-inchief: “I w ould be asked to am end it – w hich I w ould NO T do. Then it’s up to them to publish the article or not”. Professional journalism in Finland seem s to operate on a friendly and relaxed level w ith com petition concerning just the quality of w ork. In the Finnish like in any other m arket econom y the options are but tw o: live or die. Like elsew here in the Northern countries Finns, too, have alw ays been avid new spaper readers. Resulting in market coverage publishers in other countries can only dream of. The Sw edish language minority is 6 per cent of the total population. This compares to the 14 papers published in Sw edish language, w hich in 1998 reached a total circulation of 170,000 copies or 5.1 per cent of the circulation of all Finnish new spapers. But Finns are not just readers; they are loyal readers w ho subscribe to their papers. Three quarters of all papers are home delivered every morning. The remaining 25 per cent are delivered by mail. But even this level of readership loyalty proved not to be enough! To live through the structural crisis of the 1980s, Finnish new spaper houses had to develop a rem arkable degree of innovative creativity. Their rem edy consisted in a degree of concentration w hich in other countries w ould have provoked public outcry. Today, just four new spaper com panies publish 46 of the rem aining 56 Finnish daily new spapers. In 1998, these four groups accounted for 66 per cent of the total circulation of dailies. 116

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New spaper chains w ere the logical result of such a highly concentrated ow nership structure. Already since the 1970s, the m ajority of local new spapers have com e to be ow ned by provincial papers. This trend has long since reached regional and national dailies as w ell, and has been accelerated by the structural changes since the m id-1980s. Today, 26 plus new spaper chains are operating throughout the country. But Finnish publishers didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop there. As soon as it w as legally possible, they diversified into other m edia sectors to becom e m ultim edia producers. The big groups m oved into the liberalized television and radio broadcasting m arket and/or expanded into publishing m agazines and books. They realized the potential of the internet early on. With the exception of them e parks, shops and m usic the Finnish m edia giants today cover all m ass m edia products and services. Today, Finnish new spapers generate half of their revenue through subscriptions and single sales at the new s stands. The other half is generated through advertisem ent, dow n from a dependency level of 73 per cent 25 years ago. It is w idely accepted w ithin the new spaper com m unity that the advertisem ent industry has little to no influence on the editorial line of Finnish new spapers. The one hundred per cent result on the related question should, therefore, be accepted w ithout m uch surprise. O f course, this rush into ow nership concentration and cross-ow nership changed m any things for Finnish journalism . Provincial new spapers, both in chain or independent ow nership, have intensified their co-operation by exchanging editorial m aterials, producing com m on supplem ents and pages for w eekend issues, and sharing printing capacity. The m ain reason for such co-operation is to be found in the econom ic concept of econom ies of scale: by com bining individually lim ited C O UNTRY REPO RTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; FINLAND

117


financial resources, the co-operators are able to m ake better use of editorial resources for content quality. Sim ilar concepts apply in dealing w ith the advertisem ent industry. A group of im portant papers offers a com m on platform for national and regional advertising packages. Another group publishes a com m on w eekly TV broadcasting schedule supplem ent. Finnish m edia experts and publishers believe that concentration and cross-ow nership have largely contributed to m aintaining a high level of pluralism and content diversity. “The Finnish m arket is too sm all to support a high num ber of sm all and independent new spaper com panies. O nly by incorporating sm aller m edia outlets into financially strong groups w ere w e able to guarantee the ongoing existence of m any titles w hich, in order not to lose their readership, had to m aintain not only their traditional character but their content individuality as w ell.” Whether this relaxed atm osphere can survive rem ains to be seen. The benefits of the structural reform s of the 1980s have been used up. The dom estic m arket doesn’t offer any m ore substantial grow th potential for the four big com panies. In addition, Sw edish m edia groups are beginning to show an increasing interest in the Finnish m arket. Consequently the Finnish m edia industry has crossed the borders into hitherto unknow n territory. For the first tim e in the Baltic States and other CEE countries, the Finnish m edia groups face the turbulences of international com petition. Uncharted w aters lay ahead for Finnish professional journalism , w hich has, so far, proven to be extrem ely resilient to outside pressure and attacks on its professional standards and ethics.

118

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5.3 United Kingdo m

5.3.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

London

Population 2003

(m illions) 59.2

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 25,120

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

The UK governm entâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Com m unication Bill, passed on 15 July 2003 abolishes a num ber of rules on m edia ow nership, including the prohibition on non-EU countries ow ning com m ercial television stations.

Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation 19.100

110 108 106 104 102 100 98 96 94 92 Titles

19.000 18.900 18.800 18.700 18.600 18.500 18.400 18.300 1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

31.1

Men

33.1

Wom en

29.4

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

30.3

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

The Com m unications Bill w as w idely discussed and has m ade the UK one of the m ost liberal countries in term s of m edia ow nership and concentration, especially in com m ercial broadcasting. Many com m entators thought the decision to offer Rupert Murdoch a stake in terrestrial television w as an attem pt by the Labour governm ent to keep Murdoch’s substantial press interests supportive of the governm ent.81 The UK has a very centralized national press w ith m ost of the publishing houses based in London, and produces a range of broadsheet, m id-m arket and tabloid new spapers. The behaviour of the tabloid press has caused controversy over the years, w ith its style of intrusive, sensational celebrity and scandal driven journalism . The new spaper industry is self-regulated by the industry-funded Press Com plaints Com m ission (PCC).82 The entire national press is ow ned by seven com panies. The four largest of these account for about 90 per cent of sales: • New s International (New s Corp.): The Sun (3,600,000), The Times (632,600), The N ews of the World (3,860,000), The Sunday Times (1,300,000) • Trinity Mirror: Daily M irror (2,100,000), Daily Record (Scotland, 541,000), Sunday M irror (1,760,000), The People (1,300,000)

120

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• Daily Mail and General Trust: Daily M ail (2,350,000), M ail on Sunday (2,300,000) • Northern and Shell: The Express (936,000), Daily Star (840,000), Sunday Express (926,000).83 The other daily national new spapers are The Daily Telegraph (946,000), Financial Times (432,000), The Guardian (375,000), and The Independent (191,000). O ther Sunday new spapers are The O bserver (411,000, ow ned by The Guardian), The Sunday Telegraph (735,000), and the Independent on Sunday (189,000).84 The regional and local new spaper m arket is also highly concentrated. Besides its national activities Trinity Mirror belongs to the four largest groups in this field as w ell. The group has a total of 234 papers, including regional dailies, w eeklies and free new spapers. New squest, ow ned by the US m edia group Gannett has 207 titles covering regional dailies, w eeklies and free new spapers. Northcliffe New spapers is a regional new spaper subsidiary of Daily Mail and General Trust and publishes 106 titles. Johnston Press m oved, through the acquisition of RIM from fifth to fourth place am ongst the top regional publishers and has 244 titles.

81 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 43. 82 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 43. 83 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 45. 84 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 45.

the the the the

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5.3.2 Survey Results The United Kingdom , as one of the w orld’s oldest dem ocracies functions along a w ell established system of institutions, procedures and unw ritten rules. Even the Constitution has never been put in w riting. Accordingly, the British m edia system is not to be com pared w ith any continental European m odel. Undoubtedly, the British media system has alw ays been regulated to a much lesser degree than the continental media. Since the introduction of a new media law in 2003 the UK enjoys the most liberalized and open media market of the European Union. O w nership concentration, already at a high level, has thus received new incentives, according to the government’s conviction that only financially strong new spaper groups w ill be able to compete on an ever more globalized media market. Cross-ow nership barriers, w hich w ere among the low est in Europe in the past, have been further alleviated to foster the creation of British, globally operating media giants. As the first member of the European Union, London has opened its market to 100 per cent ow nership of British media by foreign media conglomerates. Born out of the long standing cultural tradition of Freedom of opinion and expression, British new spaper journalists, including those w orking w ith quality papers, have alw ays been considered as unruly and aggressively partisan. In com parison, British broadcasters have an international reputation as being neutral and im partial. To counter the econom ic liberalism enjoyed by the ow ners, British journalism used to be highly unionised. It w as Thatcherism that broke the unions’ pow er during the 1970s and 1980s. The effects of the “Iron Lady’s” revolution on the unions are clearly visible. O f the British journalists contacted for this survey only 47 per cent w ere w orking at a new spaper w ith an established w orks council. (Fig. 1) 122

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Is there a w orks council at your new paper?

No

Yes 47 0

10

20

Fig. 1

30

40

50

60

70

53

80

90

100

How influential is this w orks council on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being ”very influential“ and 5 being ”not influential at all“? Fig. 2

1 2 3 4 5

23,5 20,6 23,5 32,5

0

10

20

30

40

50

O n the effectiveness of the existing w orks councils the participants’ judgem ent w as rather subdued. (Fig. 2) “If you engage too m uch in this line of activity, they (the m anagem ent) can m ake your life very difficult”, w as the com m ent of the Rom e based foreign correspondent of a prom inent Fleet Street paper. All in all, British journalists do display a considerable am ount of cynical realism w hen talking about their profession. Most of them have accepted the fact that it is the publisher w ho in principle decides on editorial content. “The editor w ill decide but w ith an eye on the ow ner’s view ”. O nly 26 per cent of the participants of this survey believe that advertisem ent influences the content and editorial line of the paper they are w orking w ith. (Fig. 3) Does advertisement influence the editorial line of your new spaper? No

Yes 26 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Fig. 3

74

70

80

90

100

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At the same time, many of those contacted individually conceded that “it often seems like there is a company-driven agenda behind some coverage”. Another journalist admitted that “advertisers today are more likely to get editorial space for features”. And “occasionally w e have to ‘tread carefully’ around certain companies”, w hich w ill then get “extra positive coverage”. Still, w hen it com es to evaluating the fo llo w ing criteria fo r the edito rial line o f yo ur paper o n a scale fro m 1 to 5, w here 1 stands fo r “very impo rtant” and 5 stands fo r “no t impo rtant at all”, British journalists do not seem to be overly concerned about possible influence from the outside. Both “truth” (Fig. 4) and “objectivity” (Fig. 5), the tw o m ain criteria to suffer from outside pressure, continue to get high m arks. There seem s to be therefore, a stroke of continuity in traditional British journalistic standards, w hich gets confirm ed by the fact that, at least according to their staff, m any British editors-in-chief do not see generating econom ic revenue as their editorial top priority. (Fig. 6) Truth (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 4 51,5 22,0 10,2

2,0 7,9

0

10

20

30

40

50

Objectivity (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

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60

Fig. 5 29,6 19,7 34,6

8,6 7,4

10

O F M EDIA

20

C O NCENTRATIO N

30

ON

40

PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM

50


Economic revenue (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 6 30,8

10,8 18,5 21,5 18,5

0

10

20

30

40

In-depth reporting (%)

1 2 3 4 5

50

Fig. 7

13,4 25,4 32,8 14,8 13,4

0

10

20

30

40

50

Instead in-depth reporting, the classical tradem ark of British new spapers, continues to figure rather prom inently. (Fig.7) There is, how ever, a grow ing num ber of journalists w ho believe that “an interest in investigative journalism seem s to be a problem ” for their future career. “I have a battle to persuade the new s editor and the editor of the facts”. And “how can you do serious investigative journalism , w hen the editorial budget is dow nsized year after year?” What seem s, how ever, to be com pletely intact is British new spapers’ aversion to being bound by any form of political loyalty. (Fig. 8) Maintaining credibility depends largely on the readers’ im pression of total political independence. Political loyality (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 8

8,6 8,6 21,4 22,9 38,6

10

20

30

40

50

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Good relations w ith the business community (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 9

21,4 20,0 27,1 22,9 8,6

0

10

20

30

40

50

The sam e applies to the local and national business com m unity. “Good relations” in a British journalist’s understanding do not im ply any kind of unclear business or currying favours. (Fig. 9) Being unruly and aggressively partisan w ithout being connected to any political party, or seen in cahoots w ith the industry, are the criteria on w hich British quality dailies’ credibility are rated by their readers. The high ratings for credibility as an im portant elem ent of the editorial line expressed by the participating journalists are, therefore, nothing but the confirm ation of the priorities set for earlier questions. (Fig. 10) Consistent w ith their history of not having any political affiliation, British print m edia don’t feel the particularly continental European m issionary urge. They certainly do consider civil society. But according to British journalistic understanding, the role of the press is to report on facts and events and not to service or educate anybody. Hence the rather lukew arm enthusiasm w hen asked about service to civil society as part of the editorial line. (Fig. 11) Credibility and readership (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

126

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Fig. 10 40,8 23,0

18,3 5,6 11,3

10

O F M EDIA

20

C O NCENTRATIO N

30

ON

40

PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM

50


Service for civil society (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 11

18,4 18,4 43,1 13,8 6,1

0

10

20

30

40

50

A sim ilar kind of hesitance is provoked by the notion of the press as a prom oter of dem ocracy. (Fig. 12) British journalists w ill w atch over dem ocracy. They w ill defend the system w hich guarantees their rights of freedom and independence. They w ill report on shortcom ings and abuses. But they w ill, in alm ost any case, refrain from counselling in the w ay the continental European print m edia w ould do. It is, how ever, interesting to observe how the British journalistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; rather detached description of the state of their new spaper differs from the opinion of their ow n professional situation. There is no substitute for the, once so pow erful, w orks councils at British new spapers. Without the possibility of getting proper organized support from the inside of their paper, m any British journalists today have to fend for their rights individually. This is particularly difficult in tim es of dealing w ith globally operating m edia conglom erates. This m ost extrem e form of m edia concentration surely has positive effects for the ow ners. It leaves, how ever, professional journalists w ithout any practical protection. Strengthening of democratic process (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 12

18,6 18,6 28,6 18,6 15,7

10

20

30

40

50

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The Norw egian media house ORKLA issued â&#x20AC;&#x153;Publishing Principlesâ&#x20AC;? that guarantee for the editorial independence of their newspapers. Is there a similar kind of guideline in your company? Fig. 13

No

Yes 25 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

75

70

80

90

100

Tw enty-five per cent of the journalists included in this survey at least enjoy the guiding principles on editorial independence, as laid out in the statutes of the Norw egian publishing house O rkla. (Fig. 13) The fact that 88 per cent of the participants w ould like to w ork under sim ilar conditions dem onstrates the positive regulatory and protective effect of such principles. (Fig 14) It is protection against the consequences of concentration that British journalists urgently need. The often adm ired AngloSaxon tradition of journalistic independence seem s to be at risk, w hen 44 per cent of the survey participants no longer feel free to voice or w rite an opinion w hich is different from the official line of the paper. (Fig. 15) Alm ost exactly the sam e num ber of participants stated that they have experienced pressure from their editor to abstain from w riting on certain events or issues. (Fig. 16) Have you ever been put under pressure by your editor not to Fig. 16 w rite about certain events or subjects?

No

Yes 43 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

57

80

90

Would you prefer having guidelines such as these?

0

128

10

T HE IMPACT

20

O F M EDIA

30

40

Fig. 14

No

Yes 88 50

C O NCENTRATIO N

ON

60

70

80

100

90

PRO FESSIO NAL JO URNALISM

12

100


Do you feel free to voice and write your personal opinion, even Fig. 15 if it differs from the official line of the paper?

No

Yes 56 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

44

80

90

100

In som e cases the story is too big not to be m entioned. In this case, if the reporter returns from his research w ith different results than those desired, “there w ill be a debate at executive level and the item w ill either be run unam ended, spiked, or a request m ade for m e to am end the item under instruction, or the item w ill be am ended by som eone else and published w ithout m y further input being requested”. In another case, a specialist journalist described his situation as “dependent on having a patron am ong the paper’s initiating editors – for protection and for reliable opportunities and having access to publication. Editors enhance their pow er by increasing the insecurities felt by their journalists”. Three out of ten professional journalists experienced pressure from either politicians or business people not to report on certain know ledge. (Fig. 17) Such incidents occur w ith higher frequency once professional journalists are left w ithout proper protection from either their employer or the union. How courageous is the individual reporter supposed to be w hen an “important advertiser threatens to w ithdraw ”? What happens to journalists w ho do not bow to such pressure, w as described by one participant of this survey as Have you ever been pressured by either politicians or business Fig. 17 people not to report on certain events or subjects?

No

Yes 30 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

70

80

90

100

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How w ould you describe the situation among the w riting staff Fig. 18 of your paper? (%) Relaxed 30,7

Com petitive 36,0

Increasingly com petitive 13,3

Highly com petitive 14,7

Extrem ely com petitive 5,3

0

10

20

30

40

50

follow s: “Personal targeting of individuals, bullying, harassm ent, denigration of a personal nature, by editors and m iddle m anagem ent on a constant, daily, hourly basis”. This m ight have been a particularly serious case. But reading the stories contained in the questionnaires returned, a clear pattern of increasing abuse of British new spaper journalists is em erging. O n the m anagem ent level, such treatm ent w ould probably euphem istically be called com petition enhancem ent m easures. Especially younger journalists, w ho never knew anything but globally com peting journalism , describe their w ork clim ate as being relaxed to m oderately com petitive. Their elder and m ore experienced colleagues remember different tim es and feel grow ing insecurity: “They constantly rem ind you that if you refuse to w ork long hours or to m ake yourself available to the com pany 24/7 there w ill alw ays be others w illing to do so”. (Fig. 18) How ever, 86 per cent of the British new spaper journalists w ho responded to this survey feel relatively safe in their job. (Fig. 19) Freelance journalists m ay be cheap and “free to hire, free to fire”. They tend “never to query instructions given to them by desk heads. It’s that sim ple”. 130

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Do you feel threatened in your position by the increasing Fig. 19 usage of freelance journalists?(%)

No

Yes 14 0

10

20

30

40

50

86

60

70

80

90

100

But actually it is m ore com plicated. British new spaper publishers and m anagem ent w ould probably love to cut costs by using m ore freelancers. But in the end there is alw ays the one reputation no new spaper can afford to lose: credibility! Nevertheless, frustration is grow ing rapidly am ong journalists. They m ay be kept in their positions because “even to an inherently hostile m anagem ent it is evident, that good w riters and sub-editors are an asset”. That said “I think that they regard w riting staff as a negative figure on the balance sheet”. Another journalist described him self as “a necessary tool, like m achinery and plant in m anufacturing”. The im pact of concentration on British new spaper journalists has resulted in the feeling of being “m erely a tool to m ake m oney” or “a com m odity”. No w onder only 51 per cent of the British participants of this survey considered them selves still as an asset to their com pany. (Fig. 20) “Content”, one journalist com m ented, “is alw ays the first to suffer in recession, and integrity falters as a result. The bean counters are the bottom line, not the editorial staff”. Do you think ow nership and management of your paper consider the w riting staff of the company more as an asset Fig. 20 or rather as less important?

Less im portant

Asset 51 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

49

90

100

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5.4 Hungary

5.4.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Budapest

Population 2003

(m illions) 9.9

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 4,830

Source: BBC Country Profiles http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm

After the old system of licensing w as abolished in 1989 foreign investm ent started in the field of print m edia. In 1996, foreign investors held a controlling interest in 60 per cent of the daily new spaper m arket.85

Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

41

1.750

40

1.700

40

1.650

39 39

1.600

38 1.550

38 37 Titles

1.500 1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

85 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign O wnership in Central and Eastern European M edia: O wnership, Policy Issues and Strategies, (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 33.

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

30.1

Men

35.3

Wom en

25.6

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

27.7

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

A 17.6 per cent share of the largest Hungarian broadsheet, Nepszabadsag (198,000)86, is held by the German Bertelsmann Group through Gruner + Jahr. This paper is ow ned w ithin a joint venture w ith Axel Springer and Ringier. Bertelsmann also ow ns 49 per cent of the leading commercial television station in Hungary, RTL Klub, that w as launched in 1997 by the RTL group just after the market w as partly liberalized and national frequencies w ere sold to private companies.87 Axel Springer also is very active in the Hungarian m arket. While its m ain focus is m agazine publishing, Springer still has eight daily regional titles and one Sunday title w ith a circulation betw een 20,000 and 50,000 each.88 Springer is also involved in a joint venture w ith Bertelsm ann and Ringier regarding the daily N epszabadsag. The Germ an m edia group WAZ also publishes five dailies in Hungary, but the dom inant player is the Sw iss publishing group Ringier.89 It publishes Blikk (208,000), the second daily new spaper, Vasarnapi Blikk (180,000), w hich is a Sunday paper, as w ell as the old-established daily sports paper N emzeti Sport (65,000), the third placed daily new spaper. Ringier also ow ns the Hungarian quality paper M agyar Hirlap (38,000) and has an im portant level of participation in the leading new spaper N epszabadsag in a joint venture w ith Axel Springer and Bertelsm ann.90 134

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While the broadcasting m arket w as liberalized from 1997 on, in the print sector, significant ow nership changes took place in a relatively short period of tim e follow ing the fall of the com m unist regim e. Foreign m edia ow nership becam e a dom inant factor in the sector by the end of the 1990s.91 Status o f Jo urnalism in Hungary by Péter Bajomi-Lázár, Department of Communication, Kodolanyi University College The Hungarian press and m edia have undergone significant changes over the past 15 years, m arked w ith the privatization of the press and m edia; a varying degree of political pressure on, especially, the public service m edia; financial difficulties of the press; low ering social prestige of the journalistic com m unity; and changing standards of journalism . This paper describes the m ajor issues of contem porary journalism in Hungary. Legal Backgro und The Hungarian press and m edia are regulated by tw o m ajor sources of law, nam ely the 1986 Press Act, as m odified in 1990, and the 1996 Radio and Television Act, am ended in 2002. The first, w hich prim arily regulates the print press, is relatively liberal, the second, w hich regulates the broadcast m edia, is m ore restrictive; both law s are now largely com patible w ith European regulation.

86 World Association of New spapers, World Press Trends 2003 (2003) 135. 87 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign Ownership in Central and Eastern European M edia: Ownership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 33. 88 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign Ownership in Central and Eastern European M edia: Ownership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 34. 89 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia Ownership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 21. 90 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign Ownership in Central and Eastern European M edia: Ownership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 36. 91 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign Ownership in Central and Eastern European M edia: Ownership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 37.

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As regards ow nership concentration, the sam e regulation applies to the press and media as to other industries. The only difference is that the Broadcasting Act forbids vertical concentration, i.e. no one can ow n both a nationw ide new spaper and a nationw ide radio station or television channel. At the same time, the law does not limit horizontal concentration and, in recent years, several local radio stations have joined some of the major, quasi-nationw ide, radio netw orks. O w nership Most of the Hungarian nationw ide and regional quality new spapers w ere privatized in the early 1990s and acquired by Western investors, including, among others, Axel Springer, VNU, Bertlesmann and Ringier. Despite repeated efforts to establish new titles, the same four new spapers are available on the market of nationw ide quality dailies today as before the political transformation. The same holds for the regional markets w here the former county dailies, once published by the local bureaus of the communist party, have managed to preserve their leading position – indeed, a de facto m onopoly – after the political transformation in all but one or tw o of Hungary’s 19 counties. Foreign investors, how ever, have modernized the Hungarian press in terms of both style and content. Whereas the nationw ide quality dailies advocate a m arked political stance, the regional dailies seek neutrality and internal plurality in daily political matters. The local new spapers (i.e. tow n w eeklies) are ow ned by Hungarian companies or the local municipalities. Most of the political w eeklies are also ow ned by Hungarian com panies. The Hungarian state had a m ajor share in the new spaper m arket especially in the m id-1990s through Postabank, yet m ost of the press portfolio of this state-ow ned bank w as later sold to private publishers. The political parties too, have a m arked presence in the (w eekly and bi-w eekly) new spaper m arket through partisan new spapers m any of w hich, how ever, pretend to be independent. Likew ise, the nationw ide commercial television channels RTL Klub (CLT-UFA) and Tv2 (MTM-SBS), as w ell as the 136

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nationw ide radio stations Hit Radio and Danubius Radio (British and Am erican investors) have been acquired by foreign com panies, w hereas cabel television channels and local radio stations are predom inantly ow ned by Hungarian ones. Standards o f Po litical Jo urnalism The contem porary press and m edia in Hungary display a strange m ixture of at least three kinds of journalism tradition. Firstly, that of cause prom oting or partisan journalism as it existed in m ost of Western Europe earlier in the tw entieth century. Secondly, that of the Soviet-type agitation and propaganda journalism , loyal to the governm ent of the day. And, last but not least, that of objective, fact-based and politically neutral journalism w hich is m arked by the spread of United States-based global com m unication. The Hungarian journalistic com m unity is deeply divided along political cleavages w hich is dem onstrated, am ong other things, by the conflict fraught co-existence of several journalistsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; organizations as w ell as fierce debates in the press and m edia. Self-Regulatio n There w as practically no journalistic self-regulation until the late 1990s w hen, how ever, the m ajor journalists organizations adopted a com m on code of ethics. Yet this code, w hich is based on the objectivity-doctrine, is frequently ignored by journalists: unethical behaviour, including the faking of new s and conflicts of interest, is not an exception in Hungary. According to longitudinal em pirical studies conducted by sociologist Tibor ZĂĄvecz, the prestige of the Hungarian journalism com m unity w as steadily declining in the early 1990s, but has rem ained practically unchanged since 1996. In recent years, an increasing num ber of new spapers and broadcasters have passed their ow n codes of ethics. Moreover, dialogue betw een politically divided journalists has im proved and the journalistic com m unity is m ore united now than a few years ago w hen it com es to pointing to unethical journalists, regardless of their political stances. C O UNTRY REPO RTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; H UNGARY

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Financial Backgro und Despite the presence of foreign publishers, m ost of the political new spapers, including both daily and w eekly publications, have produced a loss since the political transform ation. O nly a few titles have been profitable, the rest of them relied heavily on ad hoc governm ent subsidies and support from the Soros Foundation. How ever, unlike the Latin and Scandinavian countries of Western Europe, Hungary has no press subsidies system to financially support loss-m aking new spapers. As a result, subsidies have been granted on the basis of political loyalties, w hich have m ade m any new spapers the loudspeakers of the governm ent of the day. Because of the poor financial situation of the press, little is spent on investigative journalism and m ost journalists are underpaid. It is to be noted, how ever, that the average journalist is slightly better paid than the average intellectual in Hungary. Because of the peculiarities of the Hungarian tax system, many journalists w ork w ithout a regular contract. This makes journalists vulnerable w hen in conflict w ith the publishers. Moreover, the lack of w ork contracts makes it extremely difficult to have journalists observe codes of ethics. Po litical Pressure Like in m ost other countries in East Central Europe, postcom m unist political elites, left and right alike, have exerted pressure on the press and m edia – especially on public service radio and television – in an attem pt to change editorial content and to have their policies propagated. This conflict over w ho controls the m edia and w ho sets the public agenda has generally been described as the “m edia w ar”. O ne of the m ajor reasons for the persistence of political efforts to control the m edia after the political transform ation is that the Radio and Television Act w as passed relatively late (as com pared w ith other countries of East Central Europe). Moreover, the law is of relatively poor design, especially w ith regard to the supervision and financing of the public service m edia. 138

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Jo urnalists’ Freedo m According to quantitative and qualitative data by the Freedom House, the status of press freedom has slow ly but surely im proved in the past eight years in Hungary. At the sam e tim e, com parative data offered by this organization also show that, am ong the countries of East Central Europe that w ill join the European Union in May 2004, in recent years political pressure w as the third m ost intense in Hungary, follow ing the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In a w ay contradictory to the trend of im provem ent registered by the Freedom House, the Hungarian journalists’ ow n perception of press freedom displays a m ore negative picture. According to a representative longitudinal opinion poll conducted by sociologist Mária Vásárhelyi am ong hundreds of Hungarian journalists, in 1992, 45 percent of journalists thought that there w as total press freedom , w hile in 1997 and in 2000 only about 27 percent had this opinion. In 1992, 45 percent said that they w ere free to com m ent on facts, in 1997 and 2000 only 31 percent thought so. In 1997, 38 percent reported on political efforts to prevent the publication of com prom ising inform ation, in 2000, 49 percent did so. Journalists w ere also interview ed on how exposed they felt to their publishers/superiors. The survey found that journalists of the regional dailies – w hich, as m entioned, have a de facto m onopoly in their respective counties – felt slightly m ore exposed to their superiors than those of the nationw ide and w eekly new spapers.

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5.4.2 Survey results If Finnish journalists w rongly dism issed this survey because they believed not to be affected by m edia concentration, their colleagues in Hungary refused to participate out of insecurity and som e tim es outright fear. “We all know that it w as the CIA w ho sent Western European m edia com panies into form er com m unist countries”, w as the explanation of a Hungarian unionist, as to w hy he w ould not recom m end his colleagues to participate in this survey. “They are controlling not only our telephones, but our internet connections as w ell. And they are controlling O SCE. We w ould be m ad to pass on private inform ation so that Langley later can use these data against us!” Deep inside, the Hungarian unionist probably knew that he w as talking nonsense. After years of scepticism m ost journalists today are convinced that cross-border ow ners do not have a hidden agenda. After a lengthy debate the unionist, too, conceded that foreign m edia conglom erates “probably just w ant to do business in Hungary”. His initial w ords w ere, how ever, a show piece of the confusion w hich is reigning the Hungarian m edia w orld. When com m unism collapsed in 1989, the Hungarians looked to their Western borders w ith exactly the sam e thought the Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping had voiced looking across the bam boo fence into British ruled Hong Kong: “To get rich is glorious!” Fourteen years have passed since the m arket econom y arrived. O nly a few Hungarians have collected riches, w hile the m ajority still has difficulties to m ake ends m eet. And journalists are no exception. Prom inent television anchorm en and w om en get salaries of up to tw o m illion Forint per m onth. That translates to 140

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roughly US$ 7.600 and is about five tim es the am ount of m oney a four m em ber fam ily w ould need for a decent living. But how can one live on a norm al new spaper journalist’s incom e of 80.000 Forint (ca. US$ 320) a m onth and not been tem pted by som e “extra” m oney? Need for supplem entary incom e on the one side, and need for journalistic support by individual politicians, political parties and the business com m unity on the other side, m ake the perfect m ix for a m edia catastrophe. Corruption and bribery w ere described by a Budapest based foreign correspondent as “ordinary m eans for local journalists to survive”. Hopes w ere high w hen during the 1990s foreign m edia com panies m oved into the Hungarian press m arket. They w ould pay better w ages, show how to run a print m edia in a dem ocratic environm ent and, probably m ost im portantly, they w ould protect their w riting staff against any form of pressure from outside. All these hopes are m ostly gone. Salaries paid for by foreign ow ned new spapers are, yes, a little bit higher than those paid by Hungarian publishers. The m oney is, how ever, generally still not enough for a norm al fam ily. To be sure, the arrival of the m arket econom y has forced publishers and journalists alike to develop a high degree of economic creativity. Especially the w ages paid by Hungarian ow ned m edia are so low that journalists can not afford to pay taxes and social security. The w ay out for alm ost every Hungarian, w ith the exception of factory w orkers, is to refuse regular em ploym ent and to opt instead for self-em ploym ent. To avoid being taxed at all, the m ajority of Hungarian journalists figure as a “one-m an lim ited liability com pany” constantly in financial difficulties. “It is legal and illegal at the sam e tim e. The day the system changes m ost of us w ill go to jail”, said the “ow ner” of one C O UNTRY REPO RTS – H UNGARY

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of those m ini-com panies. Most of all, how ever, by w ay of such self-em ploym ent m ost Hungarian journalists today are elim inated from both public and com pany health and pension schem es. All this does not play in favour of safeguarding professional journalistic standards and ethics. The credibility rate of daily new spapers is low. O rdinary citizens are convinced that a num ber of journalists are secretly on the pay roll of politicians. Positively reported articles are commissioned by both politicians and industry. Norm ally these articles are presented as authoritative journalistic content and not as prom otional advertisem ent in disguise. “We could not trust the papers during the com m unist tim es”, com plained the receptionist at the hotel. “But w e can’t believe them today, either”. A leading member of the Hungarian Journalist Association described the situation as follow s: “In Hungary you have to belong to som ething. If a journalist is not affiliated to any political party or organization, he’s out!” Most Hungarian journalists contacted during this survey conceded that cross-border ow nership has prevented the national print press from being m onopolized by national pow er elites. Foreign ow nership of even several daily titles by one company is not seen as detrim ental to m edia pluralism and content diversity. Most of the journalists w ere even in favour of foreign cross m edia ow nership in the national Hungarian m arket. “What problem s w e m ay have in the Hungarian m edia, they are neither the result of foreign ow nership nor has the concentration process co-stim ulated by foreign m edia groups been detrim ental to our social and financial status. O n the contrary, w ithout foreign investors the situation w ould probably be w orse”. The m ain com plaint about foreign ow ners is their lack of interest in education and professional training of a new generation of professional Hungarian journalists. But foreign ow ners 142

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steadfastly refuse to enter in anything but profitable business deals. Any involvem ent in reinforcing Hungary’s civil society or education on dem ocracy is not seen by foreign investors as part of their duties. Within the existing lim its of the Hungarian m edia law, foreign m edia groups have received licences for nationw ide TV broadcasting. Cross-m edia ow nership is strictly lim ited. Most Program m es on private TV channels m ay be im ported and culturally barely understandable by the m ajority of Hungarians. Still, foreign ow ned electronic m edia are w idely preferred to Hungarian public service TV, w hich has never been able to completely shed the tarnished im age of the dull State and party run television m onopolist of form er tim es. As in Western Europe, the m ajor part of Hungarian advertisers’ budgets is also focused on private television channels. New spapers have to fight for every advertisem ent from private industry. State run institutions and agencies, w hich know of the socio-political im portance of the printed press, use their advertisem ent budgets to buy political loyalty. Not every Hungarian daily, for exam ple, has the right to publish the results of the national lottery. Im portant governm ent announcem ents and w eekly inserts only go to certain papers considered to be politically reliable. The m onopolies of local and regional new spapers ow ned by m em bers of either the old or today’s political elites, have not been tackled by foreign m edia conglom erates either. General feeling am ong foreign investors is that although com prehensive m edia law s and regulations are in place, law and legal security as a basic concept of any dem ocratic society are only in their early stages. Most foreign m edia ow ners w ill not enter the fray of internal Hungarian affairs. The policy of the Germ an WAZ group, C O UNTRY REPO RTS – H UNGARY

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for exam ple, is very clear on this point: business, yes. Influence or even dictate over editorial content, no. “As long as they don’t violate the O SCE principles on Freedom of the m edia, the editorial part is dealt w ith by our Hungarian partners exclusively”.

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5.5 Italy

5.5.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Rom e

Population 2003

(m illions) 57.4

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 19,390

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

Whereas TV reaches a broad audience, the importance of new spapers for the distribution of new s and information is rather small in Italy. Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

93

6.100

92

6.050

91

6.000

90

5.950

89

5.900

88

5.850

87

5.800

86 Titles

5.750 1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

40.1

Men

50.9

Wom en

30.1

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

32.6

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

A governm ent survey in 1995 found that only 60 per cent of the population read a new spaper at least once a w eek, w ith m ore than a third adm itting to never picking up a paper at all. The com bined circulation of the tw elve leading dailies is less than 3.7 m illion.92 If you conclude from this that m ost Italians depend on television and radio for new s, the unbalanced control of the m ost im portant TV stations by Prim e Minister Silvio Berlusconi is even m ore startling. Berlusconi is controlling, besides his three com m ercial TV stations (Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4), the public service broadcasting stations of RAI as w ell. The O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media refers to this ow nership situation as a “constitutional challenge”. Berlusconi’s TV stations are organized under the com pany Mediaset in w hich Fininvest has a 48.6 per cent stake. The Berlusconi fam ily holds a 96 per cent stake of Fininvest. Fininvest also controls the national new spapers Il Giornale (226,000) and Il Foglio. The other tw o large m edia groups in Italy are L’Espresso and RCS Editori. The Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso is one of the leading m edia groups w ith new spaper, m agazine and broadcasting activities. L’Espresso is a w eekly business title. The com pany’s daily La Repubblica (567,000) is the second m ost popular new spaper in Italy. Both are reported to share a critical view on Berlusconi’s m edia activities. Activities in fifteen regional and 146

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local new spapers include Gazetta die M antova, Il Tireno, Il Centro, and Gazetta Reggio.93 RCS Editori is the holding group for one of the biggest m edia concerns in Europe, the RCS Rizzoli Corriere della Sera Group. The group is aligned w ith the Agnelli fam ily, w hose holding com pany, Giovanni Agnelli & C has extensive interests in the FIAT industrial conglom erate and insurance, property, sugar, chem icals, retail and other businesses.94 The group is publishing the leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera (614,000), La Stampa (360,000) and the daily sports paper Gazzetta dello Sport (374,000). It has a 53 per cent stake in Unidad Editorial, publisher of El M undo, Spainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s second largest new spaper, and is also publishing m agazines and books and has interests in advertising and distribution netw orks.95

92 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 25. 93 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 26. 94 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 27. 95 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 27.

the the the the

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5.5.2 Survey Results An ano nymo us Italian jo urnalist’s co mments o n the Italian media When you exam ine the Italian press, rem em ber: • Italy should never be taken as operetta, even if you see operetta all over: the show is a cover and is an instrum ent of pow er. • Italy is in a w ay “very advanced” and creative. It alw ays w as, for better or for w orse. Where w as fascism introduced first? Aren’t som e other European m edia starting to im itate our m odel? • In Italy the copies/population rate is one of the low est, because the quality of the papers is low, and it is low because the publishers use the papers as a political instrum ent (w hile, of course, they appreciate the profits). • O ne exam ple of a “trick”: on the m ain story of the day w e do not publish one, tw o or three good articles, but three, four, ten full pages, som etim es even m ore than 20. Too m uch inform ation equals no inform ation, and nobody can accuse you of not covering the facts. • Another peculiarity: the editors-in-chief of com peting papers exchange a lot of tips on the phone and fix the layout only after the evening new s on television: the “new s” is the new s on the screens of the different chains, controlled m ore or less by the sam e people. • Again about the new s sources: did you notice that today the w orld has only one real new s agency, Reuters, and that w hen Reuters becam e hegem onic it m oved the headquarters to the US? • Italians w ho w ant or need to understand the w orld read foreign papers (The Economist, for example, has a very high circulation, considering that not so many Italians read English). 148

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• The Italian society has been m entally levelled by the m edia, and prepared to accept the next political new thing. • Unfortunately, the foreign correspondents (w ith rare exceptions) base their coverage on w hat they find in the Italian press. They relate the show and seem not to understand w hat is going on. They focus on the Berlusconi/antiBerlusconi braw l, w hich is sim ply one of the best num bers of the show, useful to distract the attention from the real actors, transversal to this apparent divide.

The unknow n Journalist is right: don’t take Italy for a never ending operetta. It is a serious plot being played out betw een Bolzano in the north and Palerm o in the south. The price is not only freedom of the m edia, m edia pluralism and content diversity. At stake is Italian dem ocracy as such. With so m uch being at stake, one w ould have thought Italian journalists w ould take the opportunity of this survey to voice their deep concerns. This has not happened. Possibly because of language problems, more likely, how ever, because of a very selfcentred culture, only a few Italian journalists responded to this survey. During a series of personally conducted interview s journalists, how ever, m entioned their hesitation to answ er in any other w ay but face to face because of their suspicion that their conversations as w ell as their internet communications might be intercepted by either their em ployer or State institutions. The refusal of the absolute m ajority of journalists m et to fill in any questionnaire m ade quantified results im possible. Since the centre-right coalition of m edia tycoon turned politician Mr. Silvio Berlusconi w on the general elections in May 2001, dom estic Italian and international debate has focused m ainly on the conflict of interests Mr. Berlusconi has not been able to and/or not been w illing to solve. As Entrepreneur he holds Italy’s three m ain private TV channels in his personal C O UNTRY REPO RTS – ITALY

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portfolio. In addition, as dem ocratically elected Prim e Minister, he holds sw ay over Italy’s three public service TV broadcasting channels. Adding Mr. Berlusconi’s stakes in advertising, new spapers, new s m agazines, book publishing, video and DVD renting chains, cinem as, theatre, insurance, superm arket chains and so on, it becom es im m ediately obvious that the Italian dem ocracy is living an experience that no other Western dem ocracy has ever had to tackle. Yet, Italian m edia concentration did not start w ith Mr. Berlusconi nor has he had, at least in the daily new spaper sector, any m ajor responsibility for critical concentration m ovem ents. The country’s m ain new spapers have long been in the hands, not of publishers in the classical sense, but Italy’s m ajor industrial groups, w ho have at tim es been openly hostile to Mr. Berlusconi’s political am bitions. Even though Italy has daily new spapers w ith long-standing traditions like the Milanese based Corriere della Sera, no real new spaper culture com parable to Northern European countries has ever taken root. Political unification in 1871 didn’t create a culturally and linguistically unified nation. At that tim e only 20 per cent of the Italian populace spoke the dialect of Tuscany, w hich today is considered to be the purest spoken Italian. Illiteracy w as ram pant until after World War II. After the tragic experiences w ith fascism Italy w as politically divided like no other Western European nation. Part of this ideological divide w as the conviction of left w ing people that quality dailies belonged to the “cultural conservative elites’’. Most other papers w ere – and are – politically openly affiliated to political parties and/or ideologically driven groups. Taking into account that 1961 w as the first year in the history of unified Italy w hen governm ent allocated m ore m oney to education then to the m ilitary, m odern Italy ow es its cultural 150

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unification not so m uch to books, m useum s or theatre but to popular m usic – and television. 30 per cent of the 56 m illion Italians use television as their exclusive source of inform ation. O nly 3.5 m illion Italians are daily readers of new spapers. And the biggest daily new spaper in term s of printed and sold copies is a sports paper. As a consequence of the im portance of quality new spapers, m ainly to the political, cultural and econom ic elites, Italian journalists have alw ays considered them selves as part of a special caste. To this day, the profession protects itself by rigorously enforced entry barriers such as w ritten and oral entry exam s. Being a m em ber of the “ordine dei giornalisti” com es w ith a num ber of privileges. Fully em ployed journalists are not heard of as being fired, not even in cases w here serious professional m istakes have been m ade. This closed system allow ed Italian professional journalists not to have to suffer the consequences of concentration. During the 1980s quality papers like La Repubblica started to buy heavily into ailing regional dailies. Chain new spapers w ith regional or local inserts developed w ith alm ost no reduction in editorial staff. Those w ho suffered m ost from this closed system w ere freelancing journalists. Their financial and professional exploitation by publishers and editors-in-chief is legend. By the end of the 1990s the paym ent of 50.000 Italian lire or roughly US$ 25 per article w as considered as standard rate at provincial daily new spapers. Even though Mr. Berlusconi has no responsibility for the past, his influence on Italian journalism today has to be seen as dram atic. Since the liberalization of the electronic m edia m arket som e 20 years ago, new spapers have continued to lose advertisem ent revenue to this prim e source of inform ation. C O UNTRY REPO RTS – ITALY

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Mr. Berlusconi’s TV advertisem ent agency Pubblitalia m anages about 50 per cent of all television advertisem ent budgets. As long as Italy’s big industrial fam ilies w ere in open opposition to Mr. Berlusconi’s rise to pow er, they continued to finance their fledging dailies lavishly. After the election victory of the centre-right coalition, how ever, everything changed. With the exception of Mr. Berlusconi’s year long “personal enem y” and ow ner of La Repubblica, Mr. Carlo De Benedetti, the industrialists-cum -publishers changed attitude – and in various cases the editors of their daily new spapers. Even though Italy’s Prim e Minister is m uch less concerned w ith the im pact of criticism by the print m edia than w ith that of television, Mr. Berlusconi and his political friends and allies haven’t m issed a chance to take “unruly” new spaper journalists to court. Lodging defam ation suits for m illions of dollars w ith the Italian courts has becom e the Prim e Minister’s principal w eapon to silence critical print journalists. The editor-in-chief of Il Corriere della Sera w as reportedly sacked after the Prim e Minister’s office called a m em ber of the car-m anufacturing dynasty, Agnelli to com plain bitterly about the m ost respected Italian new spaper’s position on the governm ent’s position in the Iraq conflict. But it is in Television that Mr. Berlusconi and his allies are having the greatest im pact. Three of his popular, but left leaning critics w ere sacked after Mr. Berlusconi had publicly asked for their rem oval. Governm ent proposals for Italy’s public service broadcaster RAI are w idely seen as favouring Mr. Berlusconi’s private television em pire Mediaset. The continuing public row over the attem pts by the Prim e Minister and his allies to gag the nation’s m edia even forced Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciam pi to w rite an appeal to 152

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the parliam ent that “pluralism and im partiality of inform ation are essential tools to build a full dem ocracy”. Nevertheless, a new m edia law w as presented by one of his m inisters. The law allow s for further concentration, low er barriers against cross-ow nership and higher target ceilings of m arket shares. The new law is seen by professional Italian journalists and the European Federation of journalists as tailor m ade to the business plans of Mr. Berlusconi’s em pire Mediaset, and hence anathem a to press freedom , m edia pluralism and content diversity in Italy.

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5.6 Lithuania

5.6.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Vilnius

Population 2003

(m illions) 3.4

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 3,350

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

While foreign m edia ow nership is generally high in com m ercial broadcasting, the print sector is still w idely ow ned by Lithuanian com panies. O nly the Norw egian com pany O RKLA holds the largest regional paper. The total num ber of 354 new spapers is rather high for this sm all m arket.

Num ber of Dailies

Number of daily titles and circulation

Circulation

200

2.500 2.000

150

1.500 100 1.000 50

500

0 Titles

0 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

50.5

Men

50.8

Wom en

50.2

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

49.9

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

The tw o leading Lithuanian papers are privately ow ned Lithuanian economic enterprises. Both papers have a publisher w ho is at the same time the editor-in-chief. The leading daily, Lietuvos Rytas (50,000) is ow ned by G. Vainauskas, an entrepreneur w ith other different interests, inter alia printing plants, a TV m agazine production, a basketball team and other different non-media related businesses. The paper em erged from the privatization of a form er Soviet daily. The second national daily is Respublika (30,000), founded in 1991 by Mr. Tom kus. The com pany also ow ns a printing house and TV m agazines. The largest Lithuanian daily, in term s of circulation is the recently founded tabloid Vakaro Z inios (80,000) w hich also belongs to Respublika. The Sw edish m edia com pany Bonnier plays a sm all role in the Lituanian print m edia ow ning the daily business paper Verslo Z inios (9,000)96 . The Norw egian com pany O RKLA, that is also active in Poland, the Ukraine, and Denm ark, ow ns the largest regional daily Kauno diena (40,000) in the Kaunas region. The regional m arket is very im portant for daily new spapers and there is quite a num ber of sm all regional and local papers. Although each of them has a sm all circulation, the total num ber of copies 96 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign O wnership in Central and Eastern European M edia: O wnership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 40.

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is quite rem arkable. The national dailies, w hich for the tim e being are m ainly read in Vilnius and the m ain cities, try to get into the regional and local m arkets by adding regional supplem ents to their national editions. In reaction, a couple of local and regional papers founded an association to better prom ote their aim s. A quite com m on phenom enon in Lithuanian print m edia seem s to be the unclear separation betw een editorial content and paid advertisem ent. So called paid articles are w ritten by journalists but, in fact, do not contain im partial inform ation but a positive description of a certain issue, com pany or product. A m andatory by-line, indicating the sponsor, is often m issing. There is little cross-ow nership betw een print and electronic or audio-visual m edia in Lithuania. Besides the Public Service Broadcasting Program m e w ith its tw o channels, all com m ercial TV stations are ow ned by foreign m edia com panies. O nly regional TV channels are Lithuanian ow ned. A general problem , not only regarding Lithuania, is the lack of reliable data on m edia ow nership structures, the circulation and other statistical data. Although there is a law in Lithuania that the ow nership shares are to be m ade public to the Ministry of Culture, only a few m edia outlets follow this rule and not m uch is done to enforce it.

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5.6.2 Survey Results It is rem arkable that the survey results regarding the question of w hether advertisem ent is influencing the editorial line of the paper, differs from the im pression w on by personal interview s w ith journalists, journalists associations and academ ia representatives. As m entioned above, it is reported that it is quite a com m on practice in Lithuania for journalists to w rite advertisem ent pieces and that “paid for inform ation” is neither clearly m arked as advertisem ent nor separated from editorial content. An explanation for the 67 per cent that don’t see an influence of advertisem ent on the editorial line m ight be that journalists them selves, differentiate betw een their ow n journalistic content and the articles delivered or paid for by others as just another m eans of financing their title. How ever, the danger is that this differentiation is not easy for the average reader to m ake. The largest regional daily new spaper Kauno Diena is ow ned by the Norw egian m edia com pany O RKLA, w hich has established its “Publishing Principles” w ith the Lithuanian editorial staff as w ell. No other new spaper w as reported to have guidelines like this. How ever, tw o thirds of the journalists w ere in favour of having guidelines such as the O RKLA principles for their ow n new spaper. Senior journalists of Kauno Diena reaffirmed in interview s that O RKLA is giving them nearly com plete editorial independence. While form at, advertising and m anagem ent w as co-ordinated w ith the Norw egian m other com pany, it w as explained that the journalists w ere free to w rite w hat they w ant and are only accountable to their editor-in-chief. It w as also stated that the Norw egian m oney gave the journalists a higher degree of independence from Lithuanian political influence and econom ic pressure, thus enhancing the freedom to w rite. C O UNTRY REPO RTS – LITHUANIA

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Lithuania is a sm all country w ith a sm all, but com petitive new spaper m arket. The situation of journalists w as described as difficult due to financial pressure and decreasing advertisem ent revenue but, nevertheless, highly m otivated. For exam ple, the Institute for Journalism at Vilnius University is educating future journalists in order to increase the professionalism of Lithuanian journalism , not only in the print sector. The financial situation of journalists in Lithuania, as in m any other countries, is difficult, especially at regional and local daily new spapers. O ne trick to cut dow n costs for the w riting staff is for the ow ner or editor to only guarantee the m inim um w age of approxim ately 430 Euro per m onth. The rest of the incom e is then paid on honorarium basis. The problem for the journalist in this system is that all his social security deductions w ill only be calculated from the fixed m inim um w age, leaving him in an unfavourable position if he w ere to becom e ill or unem ployed, and w ith regards to pension schem es. This practice of a “m ixed” em ploym ent of journalists as fixed staff and at the sam e tim e freelance w riters, m ight be a reason for the low num ber of journalists feeling threatened by genuine freelancers. Particularities o f Print Media and D aily New spapers in Lithuania and the Ro le o f Jo urnalists by Danius Radzevicius, Chairman, Lithuanian Journalist Association Histo ry and D evelo pment o f Perio dical Print Media in Lithuania After the re-establishm ent of Lithuania’s independence in 1990, periodical press underw ent a cardinal transform ation. There w ere new kinds of print m edia (m ore entertainm ent, erotic, religion etc.) as w ell as new form s of press, for exam ple, regional or com m unity editions. Especially the num ber 158

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of advertisem ent m agazines and m agazines of special interest w ere increasing rapidly. Because publishers had a great interest in satisfying society’s needs, the variety of periodical press grew. This period of diversifying w ent on until 1995. Since 1996 the situation for certain publishing houses has become difficult, because a number of m agazines have lost their audience. After five years of expansion self regulation led to a new period of evolution of periodicals. A num ber of factors influenced the decrease of circulation of new spapers, com petition, of course, being one of them . But also, the citizens lost interest in periodicals. In 1995 ten new districts w ere established in Lithuania, and since 1996 a new kind of new spaper has been published – district new spapers. Talking about national, regional and local press one can frankly say that the local press is playing an im portant role. National dailies are m ostly read in the large cities, w hereas the regional press is m ore popular in the countryside. Com petition is not only im portant for the num ber of titles and circulation of dailies, but is also influencing the content of the papers. Publishers w ish to conquer the w hole audience quickly and often choose the shortest w ay: they change the face, the structure of the new spaper. This m istake isn’t only m ade by new publishers but also by those w ith long-standing tradition and experience. This is w hy the num ber and variety of titles is still increasing w hile at the sam e tim e, the circulation of each paper is going dow n. Publishers are w orking at a loss. This is the tendency today. Another tendency that can be observed is the search by new spapers for their ow n face. Form er advertisem ent leaflets begin to include not only ads but also som e inform ation and new s from the regions. In this w ay, those new spapers get a structure that could be called a local new spaper. In this period a lot of m agazines of special interest (health, culture etc.) w ere published and also, daily new spapers started to include supplem ents (healthcare, youth, econom ics etc.) and som e of these supplem ents even becam e separate. C O UNTRY REPO RTS – LITHUANIA

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Another tendency is that new spapers are increasingly trying to interact w ith the audience. This is the reason w hy there are more and more local dailies for communities and districts. O f course, the focus of these papers is on new s from these communities or districts, but they also include a lot of information from other regions and nationw ide new s. The fight for a share of the readership is also bringing another tendency: new spapers are becoming flattering. The content of the new spapers show s this. Serious press has become more and more boulevard. We know that quite a num ber of factors play a role in the popularity of a certain new spaper. For exam ple, a population sticking to traditions is very much into reading regional papers. O r if a new spaper has a sense for w hat their readers deem im portant, thereby encouraging readersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; trust in the paper, a title stays popular. But also the overall econom ic situation is influencing the circulation. If people hardly have money to buy food, they w onâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t buy a new spaper. In Lithuania there is no accountable institution that is collecting data on the circulation of new spapers. Advertising custom ers, politicians and em ployees of governm ent institutions think that the results of m arket research show the actual circulation of print m edia. Unfortunately w e know that this research does not alw ays correctly reflect reality. Legal Status o f Jo urnalists in Lithuania Discussions on w hat qualifies one to be a journalist go on today not only in Lithuania, but also in foreign countries and there are quite a num ber of opinions on this. The variety of m ass m edia and their differences are bringing up questions regarding the status of people w orking for journalistic m edia. In Lithuania it is at least legally defined w hat the inform ation of the public and a journalist is. This is the reason w hy I do not only w ant to take a look at the traditional judgem ent and prevailing view on journalists but also at the legal provisions w ith regard to inform ation of the public in Lithuania. The social changes that force journalists to change and also at the sam e tim e, call on society to alter the legal status of journalists w ill be considered.

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Looking at m odern m ass m edia that often only strive for inform ation and entertainm ent, som e criteria seem to replace all other: as fast as possible, as m uch as possible and as funny as possible. Therefore, other im portant things are quite often forgotten. The same standards that apply for other businesses can not be applied to m ass m edia. In Lithuania there is no discussion on the topic of w hether journalism is becom ing just another cheap product. More and m ore exam ples can be found that show that it is becom ing difficult to differentiate actual inform ation from advertisem ent and from hidden advertisem ent, or to see the author’s interest. Now, if the legal status of journalists in the inform ation society is becom ing unclear pseudojournalism w ill em erge. If business interest takes the m ost im portant position, there w on’t be any room for independent and free journalism . O ne of the m ost im portant guarantees for the independence and autonom y of journalists and other people from this sector is social and economic security. A liberal system of w age compensation w ould be an excellent instrument for ow ners of m ass m edia to suppress journalists. Com plete financial independence today is one of the biggest problem s for the safeguarding of the status of independent journalists in Lithuania. Professional groups’ organizations of journalists are discordant and continue to split up further. Thus only the status of an independent journalist can be a real guarantee for a free press in a society. It is necessary to identify new professional standards to clearly define w hat a journalist is. What has to be Changed At the m om ent there are a lot of political and financial pow ers that carry influence in Lithuania that neither feel responsible, nor do they act in a responsible w ay. The system of self regulation of the press is w eak. In m any cases the ow ners of print m edia are editors-in-chief at the sam e tim e. This is to say that in Lithuania w e have a free press but no free journalism . Until today w e didn’t have a single serious new spaper in Lithuania.

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O nly in 2003, the daily new spaper Lietuvos Z inios changed not only its face, but also its general direction into becom ing a so called public service new spaper. This is a challenge not only for this paper but also for society. O n the level of governm ent, the Ministry of Culture is in charge of the policy w ith regards to public inform ation. In m y opinion this Ministry, w hich has been totally passive up until now, should start to w ork effectively. For exam ple, the system that m ass m edia are obliged to give ow nership inform ation (w hich persons ow n how m any shares) to this Ministry is still not functioning. Thus, the public cannot know the real ow ners of print publications and at the sam e tim e it is com plicated to follow the concentration of the m ass m edia.

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5.7 Po land

5.7.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Warsaw

Population 2003

(m illions) 38.6

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 4,230

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

In 1989, the developm ent of independent m edia in Poland began. A new press law w as passed and new spapers w ere privatized. As a consequence, foreign m edia com panies began investing in Poland, resulting today in alm ost 80 per cent of the press being in the hands of foreign capital.97 Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

70

4.000 3.500 3.000 2.500

60 50 40

2.000 1.500

30 20

1.000 500

10

0

0 Titles

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Circulation (000)

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003. 97 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign O wnership in Central and Eastern European M edia: O wnership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 41.

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

31.7

Men

33.5

Wom en

27.0

MHS (Main Household Shopper)

16.8

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

About 40 per cent of foreign investment in the Polish media goes to the press. The magazine market is dominated by German publishing houses like Axel Springer, Bauer and Gruner + Jahr that together hold almost 50 per cent of the colour magazine market. The daily new spaper sector is mostly divided betw een O rkla and Passauer Neue Presse (PNP).98 The Norw egian conglom erate O RKLA SA em braces heavy industry, banking, chem icals, food products, brew ing, investm ent, and chem icals. O rkla Media covers new spapers, m agazines, new m edia, printing and distribution. It is the fifth largest m edia group in Northern Europe and the second largest new spaper group in Poland. O rkla also ow ns the Lithuanian daily Kauno diena (40,000). O rkla holds a 51 per cent stake of the Warsaw -based Presspublica w hich publishes the best-selling broadsheet national new spaper Rzeczpospolita (200,000). O rkla Press Polska ow ns full or a m ajority stakes in fourteen regional new spapers, including Gazeta Pomorska (105,000), Gazeta Lubuska (56,000), and Nowa Trybuna Opolska (105,000), the m ajor daily of the O pole region.99 PNP m oved into Poland in 1994 w hen it acquired som e regional dailies from the French Hersant group and founded Polskapresse. In 1996 the Germ an group purchased 95 per cent of the shares in the Fibak Investm ent Group, publisher of tw o dailies. By now PNP ow ns 12 regional new spapers w ith sales of 1.3 m illion, printing plants and distribution services. 164

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PNP ow ns 100 per cent of Dziennik Z achodni (95,000), Express ilustrowany (75,000), Dziennik polski (75,000), Dziennik Baltycki (70,000), Trybuna Slaska (65,000), Gazeta poznanska (50,000), Gazeta Krakowska (40,000), Gazeta O lsztysaka (35,000), and Gazeta Wroclawska (30,000).100 The Sw edish com pany Bonnier is in a joint venture w ith Marieberg publishing the daily Superexpress and Puls Biznesu (20,700).101 The European Federation of Journalists sees a decline of quality and im partiality in Polish m edia due to the rapid grow th in the last years. In order to cut dow n the costs, publishers often prefer to em ploy paid “am ateurs” than experienced professionals. But low er standards go together w ith a w idespread dem and for sensational, entertainm ent-style journalism . EFJ reports that a big threat for independent journalism can be seen , although som e observers think that foreign investors stabilize the Polish press and allow it to rem ain independent because the Western m edia com panies are only interested in profit and revenue. Their ow ners are believed to rarely intervene in editorial content and political issues.102 EFJ further reports that Poles regard the O rkla-ow ned new spaper Rzeczpospolita as very reliable, w ith high-quality information and analysis. In some cities, O rkla has invested in tw o dailies and has preserved the differences betw een them. PNP, on the other hand, aimed to unify the content and form of the titles it holds.103 98 European Federation of Journalists, Eastern Empires. Foreign O wnership in Central and Eastern European M edia: O wnership, Policy Issues and Strategies (EFJ, Brussels, 2003) 41. 99 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 33. 100 Ibid. 43. 101 Ibid. 46. 102 Ibid. 48. 103 Ibid. 48.

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O ctober 22 2003 w as an historic date for the Polish print media w ith the German Springer group launching the tabloid Fakt as the Polish equivalent to the most successful German Bildzeitung. O ut w ent, according to one Springer representative, the dull and boring essayistic style of journalism remembering past days of communist one-party dictatorship, in came fast, hard hitting, sensational and entertainment style journalism. It w as the latest in a long series of attem pts by Western and Northern European m edia giants to gain control at least over an im portant sector of the m ost interesting print m edia m arket in Central and Eastern Europe. Ryw ingate O n 27 Decem ber 2002 Adam Michnik, editor-in-chief of the daily new spaper Gazeta Wyborcza, published a secretly taped conversation w ith film producer Lew Ryw in from July 2002. In this conversation Ryw in claim ed to have support from â&#x20AC;&#x153;a group of people in pow erâ&#x20AC;? and offered to lobby the governm ent for a favourable m edia law that w ould allow Agora S.A., the publisher of Gazeta Wyborcza, to buy the private Polsat television. Ryw in thereby tried to solicit a bribe of US$ 17.5 m illion and said he w as speaking on behalf of Prim e Minister Leszek Miller, Michnik reported. A parliam entary com m ission w as established to exam ine this m atter. In February 2003 the first person interrogated by that com m ission w as Michnik, w ho said he believed Miller to be uninvolved and innocent. What is m ore, Michnik suggested during his interrogation that Polish Television chief Robert Kw iatkow ski and m em ber of the National Radio and Television Council, Wlodzim ierz Czarzasty (w ho w ere m entioned by Ryw in as the people behind his bribe offer) had plans to privatize the second channel of the public Polish Television and m ight 166

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have been interested in elim inating Agora as a potential buyer through em broiling it in a bribery scandal. O n 10 February 2003 the parliam entary com m ission called for the suspension of Kw iatkow ski and asked the prosecution for the right to look into Kw iatkow skiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s phone bills. How ever, the Polish Television Supervisory Board, w hich has the authority to suspend or sack Kw iatkow ski, voted on 14 February to leave him in his post. Kw iatkow ski him self stated that he could prove his innocence.

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5.7.2 Survey Results Since the end of com m unism no other CEE m arket has attracted so m uch attention from foreign m edia concerns as the Polish m arket has done. But differently to m ost other countries foreign com panies have not lim ited their interest to national quality papers. The sector of regional and lately, even local daily new spapers has been targeted as w ell. The reaction of Polish publishers to this cross-border threat has been to focus on securing their place in the m arket and to develop strategies for future dom estic co-operations. This process has led to increased concentration of m edia ow nership on all levels of the m arket. When Polish m edia groups started to buy into the m arket segm ent of regional papers, foreign investors like the Bavarian group Passauer Neue Presse, focused its interest in the local daily new spaper sector, accelerating the process of m edia concentration even further. Professional journalism has felt the brunt of this dom estically and cross-border driven concentration process. Nevertheless, quite a num ber of the polled journalists think them selves to be considered rather as an asset by their publishers and editors-in-chief, not least of all out of m arketing reasons: “Definitely an asset – the prom otional path is that the paper is based upon w ell know n publicists”. How ever, to stay w ithin the narrow ly defined borders of the editorial budget, publishers have started to use young and cheap “am ateurs” as journalists rather then experienced professionals. Most of these new com ers have never had any professional training at all. The result has been that after the recent years of dram atic grow th of the Polish print m edia m arket the traditionally high quality of journalism is in steep decline. 168

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No w onder Polish journalists are beginning to take a m ore critical position tow ards the grow ing influence of foreign ow nership over the national daily new spaper m arket. The introduction of internal statutes like the O RKLA principles or the Springer principles on guarantees for editorial independence is w elcom ed. At the sam e tim e Polish journalists experience the position of m ost foreign ow ners, w ho consider their presence on the national market just as an economic and totally non-political investment, as not enough to safeguard their essential liberties on editorial decisions and contents. The rising fear has been m onitored am ong Polish journalists of ending up betw een the profit am bitions of their foreign ow ners and the direct or indirect political and/or industrial pressure from dom estic sources. Many Polish journalists fear that their early im pression of vital support for a free and independent national print m edia by foreign investors could in the long run turn out to be erroneous. The Situatio n o f Jo urnalists in Po land by M onica Wojcicka, Copyrights M anager, Polityka In 1989 m y adventure w ith journalism and m edia began. It has turned out to be a lifelong one, at least up until now. Those days, everybody w as so excited by the m ere thought that w e w ere able to w ork for a free paper that w e w ere not concerned w ith any lim itations of this freedom that w e m ight experience in the future. And little did w e know ! After 14 years of untam ed progress of the m edia business in Poland, the freedom of speech is just being taken for granted. If one looks closer at the m edia people, how ever, you can see that they face at least tw o m ajor dilem m as in their everyday journalistic practice. First, the question of loyalty. Fourteen years ago, journalists from the state run papers w ere closely identified w ith the paper they w orked for. The new media w ere being created C O UNTRY REPO RTS â&#x20AC;&#x201C; PO LAND

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by a m ostly anonym ous to the general public, yet intellectually challenging group of in spe journalists or those ones w ho only w orked for underground publications. They lacked the experience of their, m ostly older, colleagues or rivals, but they w ere enthusiastic. Now adays, the tw o groups are m ixed together. As the ow nerships of previously state run papers change and they becom e partly foreign ow ned publications and also, as the independently founded titles are being sold to the bigger m edia players, a journalist is supposed to be loyal to the current publishing m anagem ent. That, in itself, m ay not m ean that their personal journalistic ethics are being directly jeopardized. Alas, the tim es of w holehearted identification and the feeling of being a representation of “m y” paper are being consequently blow n w ith the w ind of corporate m ovem ents. As it happens, the ow ners change and so does the m anaging staff. A journalist has to be flexible w ith his or her w riting, w ork-style and possibly business and political sym pathies. My point is that, shouldn’t a journalist be loyal to him self as a matter of principle? And, if so, how should he maintain this loyalty, if his current “ow ner” has different expectations tow ards his w riting than the previous one? The second issue is actually related to the form er one and it’s freelancing. In m y current position, I com m unicate w ith journalists from countries all over the w orld on a daily basis. I deal w ith individual authors as w ell as w ith huge syndicates, selling various content. And from this I can see how far w e, Polish journalists, are from the Western standards. It is unthinkable for a serious political commentator here to sell a colum n to tw o com peting daily papers! In spite of the loyalty crisis, the nam es are being still linked w ith the new spapers. How ever, it is common to drag a nam e from a com petitor paper by paying him head over heels, but since then, the name may only appear under the new banner! What’s more, it happens every so often, that one

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m ay spot a nam e in an opinion w eekly today, and in a m onth’s tim e the very sam e nam e appears in a m asthead of a tabloid daily. Why is it not possible to publish in a w eekly anymore? Given that the both do not belong to the same publisher, obviously. The answ er lies in the contracts w e’re signing w ith the papers. The standard ones contain a special clause w hich bans an author from w riting something that w ould run in a competitor’s publication w ithout a prior consent from the chiefeditors. The same applies to TV and radio station employees. Thus, it is up to the boss to declare w ho the competition is and w hether you may or may not w rite for them. Basically, there is nothing w rong in offering such a clause in the contract in exchange for something as important, for example, as a free selection of topics. In practice, it is not that sim ple. There m ay be m aterials never published or goals never achieved, there may be professional frustration. And a journalist can’t take a m oved-out text and publish it elsew here. Does it deprive the mother-publication of any value? If a piece is unw anted in m y paper, is it a sin to w ish to publish it in another? I am full of respect for those scarce ones w ho decided to go and start a one-person enterprise. They really took their career in their ow n hands. They are able to sell their “products” to anyone. The only trouble is that if one of those anyones discovered that the author sold his m aterial to a com petitor, there’s a great possibility that the author w ould have to m ake a 0-1 choice in w hich publication to run his texts. It is one or the other, never both. Thus, there’s no real freelancing in Poland. O n a deeper level, I think it m eans that m any of us are not able to follow our passions and interests, as they m ay not go along the current needs of our em ployer. It m ay also m ean that m any talents are still hidden underneath the new s-of-the-day features, never to be revealed.

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O n a daily, practical basis there’s no reasonable re-publications policy accepted am ong papers and m agazines. Hence, there’s no proper content syndication. Papers and m agazines do not advise on the forthcom ing m aterials. They fear their com petitors. They do not try to re-distribute, resell or re-publish their content in other Polish publications. A real freelancer w ho puts m uch effort and often painstaking research into his w ork w ouldn’t be able to survive in Poland. He w ouldn’t be able to earn his royalties for one feature published in several titles. O bviously, w hen there’s a scoop, the glory goes to the original new spaper that had it. After that, how ever, there is no reason for other papers not to follow the track, re-publish the m aterial and even start to investigate the m atter on its ow n. Well, this is hardly im aginable here. It may be that I am simply too naive and unsophisticated to com prehend it. It m ay be that the corporate, global policies are just above m y level. But w hen I talk to a colleague w ho w ants to m ake his inventive reportage and w ithdraw s from the w hole idea because the chief- editor w ouldn’t run it anyw ay, I just think it is unfair for such a potential to be w asted. Maybe som e tim e, w e w ill be able to w rite stories for foreign papers and make our ow n understand that there’s nothing w rong in it.

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5.8 Ro mania

5.8.1 Co untry Repo rt Capital

Bucharest

Population 2003

(m illions) 22.3

Average annual incom e 2001

(US$) 1,720

Source: BBC Country Profiles <http://new s.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/country_profiles/default.stm >

The Romanian press reached a peak in terms of quantity in 1996 w ith 1887 published titles from w hich 106 w ere dailies and 1781 other periodicals. A small number of national dailies stand alongside a vital but financially difficult regional and local market.

Number of daily titles and circulation

Num ber of Dailies Circulation

160 140

2.500 2.000

120 100 80

1.500

60

1.000

40 20 0

500

Titles

0 1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Circulation (000)

Source: Rom anian Mass Media – A short description.104 104 The Rom anian Em bassy in London Romanian M ass M edia – A short description <http://w w w.roem b.co.uk/MasterPages/new s&m edia1.htm >

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New spaper reach (%) All Adults

15

Source: World Association of New spapers (2003) World Press Trends 2003.

There are over 20 daily new spapers published in Bucharest, most of them calling themselves national new spapers. How ever, only three or four can claim print runs and circulation over the 100,000 threshold. In the last several years local new spapers have increased their quality and readership. Their daily local or regional circulation varies betw een 2-3,000 and 30-40,000 copies. Romania has 40 counties w ith approximately 200 local titles of w hich 150 are daily and 50 w eekly new spapers. The m arket of national daily new spapers in Rom ania is now dom inated by four com panies, tw o Rom anian and tw o foreign: The num ber one national daily new spaper Libertatae (167,000) is ow ned by the Sw iss m edia com pany Ringier. Ringier also publishes the financial w eekly Capital and a num ber of w om enâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and consum er m agazines and TV guides. The second best selling national daily Evenimentul Z ilei (110,000) w as held by the Germ an publishing house Gruner + Jahr, but it w as sold to Ringier in O ctober 2003.105 , decreasing the num ber of ow ners of national dailies from five to four. The Germ an WAZ holds only a 51 per cent interest in the daily Trustul des Presa N ational and a 50 per cent stake in Romania Libera through a joint venture w ith Trustul Mehrh.106 Media Pro, a com pany ow ned by Adrian Sarbu, publishes the largest financial daily and ow ns besides the TV and radio station Pro, tw o printing houses, a distribution netw ork and about 200 other m edia and non-m edia com panies. Jurnalul N ational (80,000) is the second national new spaper that is ow ned by a Rom anian m edia house belonging to 174

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Dan Voiculescu w ho is reported to be a form er Securitate officer. He also ow ns the TV stations Antena 1 and the radio station Radio Romantic. The regional papers are especially suffering under pressure from local politicians and business. Advertisem ent revenue is low and regional dailies are dependent on adverts from State ow ned com panies that are reported to often use their financial pow er to influence the editorial line of the paper. In the forefront of the 2004 elections 20 new regional dailies have already been founded. “MO O NING” THE RO MANIAN MED IA by Ioana Avadani, Director, Centre of Independent Journalism Last w eek of O ctober 2003: the w orkers in Brasov, protesting against the governm ent, throw apples, m ilk bags and “m oon” the journalists there to cover the rally. It’s the first tim e ever in the post-1989 history of the Rom anian m edia that this has happened and it has a deeper m eaning than a sim ple case of disrespect. Ever since the toppling of com m unism , the m edia has enjoyed a high credibility and the glam our of the White Knight. They w ere perceived as the piercing eye, the loud voice, the scale of Justice and the last com fort of the afflicted. Year after year, m edia ranked high in the hierarchy of trusted institutions: com ing third, right after the Church and the Army. The new scasters have been the indisputable leaders of the TV audience. But som ething happened on the w ay to heaven. Less and less criticism appeared in the new s, less and less investigative reporting, less and less opposition figures speaking their m inds in the m edia. The hard new s w as replaced by the 105 Der Spiegel “Zeitungsgeschäft in O steuropa an Ringier verkauft” (24 O ctober 2003) <http://w w w.spiegel.de/w irtschaft/0,1518,271343,00.htm l> 106 European Federation of Journalists, European M edia O wnership: Threats on the Landscape. A Survey of who owns what in Europe (EFJ, Brussels, 2002) 21.

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so-called “human interest” stories, selling w ell. The big issues of a nation in transition found them selves covered in an ever m ore schem atic, one-sourced uninquisitive w ay. Sensationalism settled in to stay. New s audiences started to shrink and in 2001, for the first tim e, entertainm ent program m es outrated the new scasts. “People got tired of politics”, said the m edia professionals. O r did they? What could have caused this change of heart of the Rom anians? O ne should look for the answ er in the econom ic environm ent, as w ell as in the journalists’ professional com m itm ent. With its over 22 million inhabitants, Romania is one of the biggest regional markets. Unfortunately, it is not one of the richest. Advertising amounts to some 7 USD per capita, a budget that could hardly feed the numerous media operations on the market. The print publications are in the vicinity of 1000, w hile broadcasts amount to 300. This creates a fierce competition w hich does not alw ays observe the rules of fair play. It is not the fittest that survives, but the best connected. As advertising m oney is not enough to go round, m edia operations should turn elsew here for their survival funds. Most of them are kept alive by capital injections from their ow ners’ other businesses. O f course, this com es at a price – and this is called editorial protection for the ow ners’ profitm aking business. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the State is one of the im portant announcers on the advertising m arket. Public institutions and state ow ned com panies have their ow n advertising budgets (in public m oney) that they distribute at their free w ill, despite there being such a thing as Public Procurem ent Law. Criteria such as circulation, penetration and readership profile are not observed, and in m any cases public m oney advertising is a prize for obedience or friendly coverage. Recent research conducted by the Rom anian Academ ic Society (an NGO ) show ed that the public institutions have no clear criteria on w hich they base 176

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the allocation of their advertising m oney. In the sam e tim e, a m edia m onitoring conducted by Media Monitoring Agency and the Center for Independent Journalism 107 show ed that w hile the transportation sector is one of the m ost advertised sectors, it enjoys very little attention on the part of reporters108. O ne can claim that the State is not that im portant a player in this gam e, as the official public m oney advertising expenses am ount to only 1 per cent of the m oney on the m arket. The problem is that if the public authorities prom ote such a discretionary allocation of funds, they send out a strong m essage: lack of econom ic criteria is acceptable, advertising m oney is a rew ard, the m edia should “behave” in order to access it. For the print operations, sales is the other legitim ate but, alas, vulnerable source of funding. Sales are subject to authorizations from the public authorities w hen it com es to installing kiosks and allow ing street vendors. All too often the authorities scrutinize the editorial content before issuing the authorizations. Focsani (Vrancea county) is a notorious case already. Here, the local council lifted the kiosks of the only critical new spaper, Z iarul de Vrancea, despite a judge order, leaving the new spaper w ith virtually no possibility to sell. This alone sounds outrageous. But w hat can be done w hen the m ayor him self is a m edia ow ner in the sam e city, and ow ns also the local distribution netw ork? Bacau and Constanta are tw o cities w here this “w orst case scenario” cam e to life. The national distribution netw ork is rather part of the problem than part of the solution. While there is no state ow ned print media, the distribution netw ork, Rodipet, is still state controlled. Several reports from local publishers 107 As part of the Covering Corruption and O rganized Crim e program m e, funded by the Germ an Governm ent under the Stability Pact. 108 Five national new spapers w ere m onitored during July and August 2003. O ut of the advertising run on public funds, 69% cam e from transportation com panies running on public m oney. Meanw hile, only 6% of the articles revealing acts of corruption dealt w ith the transportation sector.

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indicated that Rodipet applies a discriminatory policy, imposing tougher contractual provisions to “non-aligned” publications despite the competition law that prohibits such practices. A couple of other facts add to the grim side of this picture: there is no legal incentive for the m edia industry, taxation is as high as for any other business. O f course, the “deserving ones” m ay receive tax re-scheduling, w hich creates – again – a m isbalance on the m arket and benefits the obedient m edia. Caught in this m aze of restrictions, m edia do the best they can. Muting the criticism against the authorities is the first step. Eliminating any shadow of criticism is a step further – he extrem e: singing praises to the ones in pow er. There is still a bright point about all the m echanism s described earlier: they im ply breaches of existing (even if im perfect) legislation. They can be spotted and eventually countered. With a tough civil reaction and duly blind Justice, the things can be corrected. But w hat happened in Romania over the last years is part of a m ore w orrying trend. Given their econom ic w eakness, m ore and m ore m edia have been literally bought by people belonging or close to the political pow er. Wherever persuasion or pressure failed to silence the critical voices, buying did the trick. If you can’t beat them , buy them – sounded like a general order all over the country. Buying businesses is a perfectly legal and legitim ate operation. Buying m edia operations is no exception. Telling an ow ner w hat to do w ith their business is not part of the gam e. Media is no exception. So, w hat is to be done w hen a vast m ajority of the local m edia (som e voices say up to 80% ) are ow ned by people belonging to the sam e interest group? What is to be done w hen they decided that obedience is the editorial policy? When the m edia agenda slides further and further aw ay from the public agenda? When street protests get only a fraction of the coverage that a car crash gets?

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These are the questions that the w orkers in Brasov answ ered in their ow n w ay. Their protest w as aim ed equally at the governm ent and at the m edia w hich are no longer their w itness, or their guarantee that their voices w ill be heard. “Mooning” the m edia m ay be spectacular enough to bring them 30 seconds of visibility, but it does not solve their problem . In m y hum ble opinion, the upcom ing elections m ay be a bit m ore effective on this.

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5.8.2 Survey Results Although a sm all m ajority of the journalists asked have a w orks council at their paper the influence of these institutions is considered rather m ediocre. (Fig. 1) How ever, there are no answ ers claim ing that a w orks council w ould have “no influence at all”, as the follow ing tw o graphs show. (Fig. 2) Is there a w orks council at your new paper?

No

Yes 53 0

10

20

30

Fig. 1

40

50

60

70

47

80

90

100

In the next questions the answ ers from the survey som etim es vary considerably from the inform ation gathered from face to face interview s w ith journalists, NGO s and other experts in Bucharest in Septem ber 2003. Tw o reasons for these different results seem m ost likely: either only journalists in a good position and w ith high ethical and professional standards have answ ered the survey in the first place, or m any of the answ ers given do not display the actual situation but instead the situation as the journalists w ould like it to be. In contrast to the face to face interview s the anonym ous survey show s that nearly tw o-thirds of the asked journalists don’t think that advertisem ent is influencing the editorial line of their paper. How ever, taking a look at the actual situation it How influential is this w orks council on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being ”very influential“ and 5 being ”not influential at all“?

1 2 3 4 5 0

180

Fig. 2

12,5 12,5

75,0

10

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20

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30

40

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ON

50

60

70

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80


Does advertisement influence the editorial line of your new spaper? No

Yes 27 0

10

20

30

40

50

Fig. 3

73

60

70

80

90

100

is reported that there seem s to be quite som e pressure by state ow ned and private com panies regarding the allotm ent of advertisem ent budgets. Em pirical evidence show ing to w hat extent this allotm ent is dependent on the editorial line of the paper could not be clarified in this study, neither in the face to face interview s nor in the trend that the survey show s. (Fig. 3) The next question, recalling nine different factors w hich m ight be of im portance for the editorial line of the paper, again paints a picture of a m edia landscape in Rom ania w ith a high degree of professionalization and idealistic journalists. Ho w impo rtant are the fo llo w ing criteria fo r the edito rial line o f yo ur paper o n a scale fro m 1 to 5, w here 1 stands fo r “very impo rtant” and 5 stands fo r “no t impo rtant at all”? Both “Truth” (Fig. 4) and “O bjectivity” (Fig. 5) w ere m ostly considered “very im portant” by the Rom anian journalists in our sam ple. How ever, w hile nobody thinks that the criteria “Truth” is “not im portant at all” this distinction is not as clear w ith the criteria “O bjectivity”. Truth (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

Fig. 4 71,4

7,1 7,1 7,1 7,1

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

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Objectivity (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 5 57,1 21,4

7,1 14,3

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

Economic revenue (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 6

14,3 21,4 50,0 14,3

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

In-depth reporting (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 7 26,7 46.7 20,0

6,7

0

10

20

30

40

50

Political loyality (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

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14,3 7,1 42,9 14,3

10

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20

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30

ON

40

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50


Although m ost journalists in the sam ple think “Political loyalty” is not im portant or “not im portant at all” there is a considerable contingent that even thinks that political loyalty is “very im portant” for the editorial line of their paper. (Fig. 8) Taking into account that som e new spapers are ow ned by local politicians, m ayors or founded in the forefront of elections, there is reason to believe, that loyalty is indeed a com m on criteria in the Rom anian print m edia. Good relations w ith the business community (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 9

14,3 14,3 21,4 42,9 7,1

0

10

20

30

40

Credibility and readership (%)

1 2 3 4 5

50

Fig. 10 50 28,6

7,1 7,1 7,1

0

10

20

30

40

Service for civil society (%)

1 2 3 4 5 0

50

Fig. 11 35,7 21,4 28,6

14,3

10

20

30

40

50

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Strengthening of democratic process (%)

1 2 3 4 5

Fig. 12 57,1

21,4 14,3 7,1

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

While only 36 per cent of the polled journalists have sim ilar provisions as the O RKLA principles, (Fig. 13) the w hole random sam ple (100% ) w ould prefer to have guidelines that guarantee editorial independence. The num ber of journalists w ho have been put under pressure by editors m ight be a reason for this broad accordance. The Norw egian media house ORKLA issued â&#x20AC;&#x153;Publishing Principlesâ&#x20AC;? that guarantee for the editorial independence of their newspapers. Is there a similar kind of guideline in your company? Fig. 13

No

Yes 36 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

64

70

80

90

100

Do you feel free to voice and write your personal opinion, even Fig. 14 if it differs from the official line of the paper?

No

Yes 71 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

29

90

100

Although nearly tw o-thirds of the polled journalists feel free to voice and w rite their personal opinion, even if it differs from the official line of the paper, (Fig. 14) 42 per cent of the sam ple have been put under pressure by their editor not to w rite about certain events or subjects. (Fig. 15) 184

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Have you ever been put under pressure by your editor not to Fig. 15 w rite about certain events or subjects?

No

Yes 42 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

58

70

80

90

100

Have you ever been pressured by either politicians or business Fig. 16 people not to report on certain events or subjects?

No

Yes 54 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

46

80

90

100

It is notable, and casts a significant light on the Romanian landscape, that w hile 42 per cent claim to be put under pressure by their editor, 54 per cent answ er that they have been pressured by politicians or business people not to report on certain events or subjects. (Fig. 16) As face to face interview s confirm, there seems to be considerable influence from politicians, not only in the capital but also especially in the regional and local new spapers. How w ould you describe the situation among the w riting staff Fig. 17 of your paper? (%) Relaxed 15,4

Com petitive 38,5

Increasingly com petitive 38,5

Highly com petitive 7,7

Extrem ely com petitive

0

10

20

30

40

50

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Do you feel threatened in your position by the increasing Fig. 18 usage of freelance journalists?(%)

No

Yes 8 0

10

20

30

40

50

92

60

70

80

90

100

A particularity of the Romanian print media landscape is that there are next to no freelance journalists, w hich gives little reason to feel threatened by them. (Fig. 18) What is more, in some questionnaires a notew orthy concept of freelancers w as expressed, as not being a danger for established contracted staff, but instead being high educated specialists, w orking w herever they are needed. Single questionnaires even stated that it is desirable to w ork as a freelancer. Do you think ow nership and management of your paper consider the w riting staff of the company more as an asset Fig. 19 or rather as less important?

Less im portant

Asset 82 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

18

100

Eighty-tw o per cent of the polled Rom anian journalists think that ow nership and m anagem ent of their paper consider them m ore as an asset than as less im portant. (Fig. 19)

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6 . Co nclus io ns

Globalisation has not spared the European Media sector.

Media concentration, as w ell as cross sector ow nership and cross-border ow nership are part of today’s econom ic realities. Because of European integration and global reach of a sm all num ber of m edia concerns, these phenom ena are bound to accelerate and w ill, consequently, becom e ever harder to control.

Media law w ill never be ahead of technological developm ents and their econom ic consequences.

There is no general pattern for how concentration, cross ow nership and cross-border ow nership occurs. Each m arket has its ow n specific developm ents.

There is a clear distinction betw een m arket conditions in Western European countries and the em erging dem ocracies in Central and Eastern Europe: While Western European societies since World War II had am ple tim e to develop and strengthen free and independent m edia, CEE countries, after having experienced three generations of com m unist dictatorship are suffering from the dram atic absence of experienced and w ell-trained journalistic personnel, as w ell as the unavoidable structural difficulties resulting from socio-political transition processes.

Regulatory, as w ell as political and ow nership interventions m eant to curb journalistic freedom s and independence, as can be observed in Italy, set bad exam ples for C O NCLUSIO NS

187


em erging CEE countries w ith regard to the Freedom of the Media. •

The general situation of print m edia is becom ing m ore difficult all over Europe due to econom ic recession and structural problem s. Loss of advertisem ent revenue is one of the central problem s of the print m edia.

Especially in sm all and em erging m arkets it is becom ing increasingly difficult to obtain sufficient financial m eans from dom estic sources necessary for the continuing existence of privately ow ned and independent print m edia.

Foreign investm ent in CEE print m edia m arkets can not be considered detrim ental to Freedom of the Media and to journalistic freedom s in these countries per se. O n the contrary, in m any cases foreign capital has created the basic conditions for the print m edia to be free of dom estic political influence and industrial pressure.

Market concentration does not depend on the origin of capital. It can be equally dom estically induced as w ell as caused by foreign investors.

Concentration processes have to be, how ever, closely m onitored. Horizontal concentration m ay cause dangers to m edia pluralism and diversity, w hile vertical concentration m ay result in entry barriers for new com petitors.

Professional journalism is bearing the brunt of the financial difficulties of m edia firm s and consequently of m edia concentration.

In order to safeguard free and independent print m edia and protect professional journalism as one of the cornerstones of constitutional dem ocracy it w ould be recom m endable to: – Develop instrum ents to help print m edia com panies in creating a sound financial and econom ic base in order for

188

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them to be protected against undue external influences. This could be done by reductions for taxes on paper or VAT as has been practised for a long tim e in m any O SCE countries. – Develop guiding principles for the editorial independence of editors and professional journalists from both pressure from the publisher and the political and/or industrial arena. Such principles should be developed in close cooperation w ith publishers and professional editorial staff and should, once introduced on a voluntary basis, be binding and therefore legally enforceable. The already existing principles established by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and signed by the Germ an WAZ group and the Norw egian publishing house O rkla could be taken as valuable exam ples. – Facilitate and offer council to m edia com panies w illing to introduce voluntary guidelines for editorial independence sim ilar to principles established, for exam ple, by O rkla, Springer and WAZ. – Increase the “m arket value” of professional journalists by strengthening their intellectual property rights and notoriety, m aking it obligatory to identify individual authors of articles by publishing their full nam es. – Strengthen the bargaining position of professional journalists and their right to choose their em ployer freely by m aking, in the case of changing jobs, the contributions to com pany pension schem es transferable to other m edia com panies. – Guarantee professional journalists sufficient salaries, social security and pensions in order to eliminate their economic dependency on additional income from other sources, thus safeguarding independent and impartial journalistic w ork. C O NCLUSIO NS

189


– Create in all O SCE participating States independent institutions to m onitor the im plem entation and observance of all law s and regulations regarding concentration processes, media pluralism, content diversity and journalistic freedoms. O n the national level these institutions should have the right to legal enforcem ent and m edia m arket internal sanctions. They should report on progress once a year to the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. – Create an electronic database on the situation of Freedom of the Media in each O SCE participating State at the Representative’s offices in order to enable governm ents, m ultinational and international institutions and non-governm ental organizations to m onitor progress.

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Annex Q uestionnaire Principles for Guaranteeing Editorial Independence Proposed by the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Springer Principles O RKLA Principles


O rganizatio n fo r Security and Co -o peratio n in Euro pe The Representative o n Freedo m o f the Media Freimut D uve

Co nsequences o f Media Co ncentratio n o n Pro fessio nal Jo urnalism Q uestio nnaire O ver the past decade the European Media have experienced som e fundam ental changes. Decisive for the historically unique chance to create a Europe w ide netw ork of free, independent and pluralistic m edia w ere the regim e changes in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. At the sam e tim e, the opening of those m arkets has accelerated the som etim es disturbing trend of m edia concentration all over Europe. This has been particularly evident in the print m edia sector. While the econom ic and social im plications of concentration in the print m edia have been researched extensively, little or no attention has been paid to the im pact of such trends on professional journalism itself. Recognizing this gap, the O SCEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Representative on Freedom of the Media, Freim ut Duve, has com m issioned an in depth research study into the consequences of m edia concentration for professional journalists in the daily new spaper m arkets in selected O SCE participating States. The list of countries includes Finland, Germ any, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Rom ania and the United Kingdom . Q UESTIO NNAIRE

193


We w ould, therefore, like to ask you to participate in this research by answ ering the questionnaire attached to this letter. Your answ ers w ill form part of the database for our investigation. Naturally, all inform ation provided w ill be treated confidentially and w ill be m ade anonym ous. There w ill be no w ay to trace back a link to individual persons. And, o f co urse, if yo u do nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel co mfo rtable answ ering this questio nnaire in English, yo u may use yo ur o w n language. Thank you very m uch for your co-operation. Johannes von Dohnanyi Project Manager

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1. In w hich country are you w orking? ! Finland ! Italy

! Germ any ! Hungary

! Lithuania

! Rom ania

! Poland

! United Kingdom

O ther ____________________

2. Please give a short description of the new spaper you are w orking w ith. Text max. 600 words 3. The new spaper you are w orking w ith is published ! Daily ! Weekly ! Periodical

4. The new spaper you are w orking w ith is published ! Locally ! Regionally ! Nationw ide

5. What is the circulation of your new spaper? Text max. 100 words

6. Who are the ow ners of the new spaper? Text max. 600 words

7. Is there a w orks council at your new spaper? ! Yes

! No

8. How influential is this w orks council on a scale from 1 to 5, w here 1 stands for “very influential” and 5 stands for “not influential at all”? Very influential

1

2

3

4

5

Not influential at all

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9. Does the new spaper have som e kind of political or ideological affiliation? Text max. 600 words 10. What is your current position? ! Full tim e staff w riter ! Freelancing professional journalist

11. When did you receive your last pay rise? Drop down: 1985-2003

12. How m any jobs have you held over the past 10 years? Drop down: 1-15

13. Are you holding an exclusive w ork contract w ith this publishing house? ! Yes

! No

14. Does your em ploying com pany hold stakes in other m edia enterprises? ! Radio ! Television ! O ther: ________________________________ 15. Do you have to w ork for other m edia ow ned by your em ployer? If yes, please give a detailed answ er on the nature of the additional job, on extra paym ent and related benefits. Text max 600 words 16. Does advertisem ent influence the editorial line of your new spaper? ! Yes

! No

Please specify _______________________________________ ____________________________________________________

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17. Who defines the editorial line of your new spaper? Text max 100 words

18. How important are the follow ing criteria for the editorial line of your paper on a scale from 1 to 5, w here 1 stands for “very important” and 5 stands for “not important at all”. 1 very im portant - 5 not im portant at all

1

2

3

4

5

Truth O bjectivity Econom ic revenue In-depth reporting Political loyalty Good relations w ith the business com m unity Credibility and readership Service for civil society Strengthening of dem ocratic process

19. The Norw egian m edia house O RKLA issued “Publishing Principles” that guarantee for the editorial independence of their new spapers. Is there a sim ilar kind of guideline in your com pany? ! Yes ! No 20. Would you favour guidelines like this? ! Yes ! No 21. Which qualities of professional journalism do you consider career enhancing at your paper? Text max 600 words Q UESTIO NNAIRE

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22. Which qualities of professional journalism are an obstacle to professional advancem ent at your paper? Text max 600 words

23. Do you feel free to voice and w rite your personal opinion, even if it differs from the official line of the paper? ! Yes

! No

24. Who decides on events and subjects for you to w rite about? Drop down: O wner, Board of Directors, Editor-in-Chief, Desk Editor, Political Lobbies, Industrial Lobbies, Yourself

25. What happens if the results of your researches are not in line w ith the official line of the paper? Text max 600 words 26. Have you ever been put under pressure by your editor not to w rite about certain events or subjects? ! No

! Yes

27. Have you been pressured by either politicians or business people not to report on certain events or subjects? Please give details. ! No ! Yes ____________________________________________________ 28. How w ould you rate the support and protection by journalist unions in case of external pressure on a scale from 1 to 5, w here 1 stands for “very supportive” and 5 stands for “not supportive at all”?

198

In case of external pressure

1

2

3

4

5

In case of internal pressure

1

2

3

4

5

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29. How w ould you describe the situation am ong the w riting staff of your paper? ! ! ! ! !

Relaxed Com petitive Increasingly com petitive Highly com petitive Extrem ely com petitive

30. Please explain the m eans by w hich ow ners/editors try to raise the level of com petitiveness am ong journalists. Text max 600 words

31. Do you feel threatened in your position by the increasing usage of freelance journalists? ! Yes

! No

32. What do you think m akes freelance journalists so attractive for publishers? Text max 600 words 33. Do you think ow nership and m anagem ent of your paper consider the w riting staff of the com pany m ore as an asset or rather as less im portant? Please give details. Text max 600 words

34. Has the role of the w riting staff w ithin the com pany changed over the past 10 years? Please give details. Text max 600 words

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Principles fo r Guaranteeing Edito rial Independence Pro po sed by the O SCE Representative o n Freedo m o f the Media O ver the past years, foreign companies have started investing in the media in the emerging democracies. In several countries, foreign ow nership is generally high w ith control exercised over the majority of the print media. In the history of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s constitutional culture media play an important and indispensable role for the development of our democracies. The role and therefore the responsibility of the ow ners of journalistic media go far beyond other m arket oriented industrial products. In som e Western democracies this difference is marked by special tax allow ances. These are the reasons w hy the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media is monitoring the situation closely. In general he does not get involved in cases w here foreign ow nership of media is in line w ith domestic legislation. How ever, potential reasons for concern exist, especially regarding the editorial policies of the journalistic media in light of the often-fragile state of democracy and rule of law. O n the other hand freedom of the media can be strengthened by investments in the media. The O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has approached m edia com panies w ith international business interests to agree to observe the follow ing principles: - The ow nership structure of all journalistic m edia, including those that are partly or solely ow ned by foreign investors, m ust be know n by the public. - O n the editorial independence of the journalistic m edia, a com m on code of conduct should be reached betw een the staff and the board of directors on basic journalistic principles. 200

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- This com m on code of conduct shall at least contain the follow ing principles: • standing up for hum an rights • standing up for the fundam ental dem ocratic rights, the parliam entary system and international understanding, as laid dow n in the United Nations Charter • fighting totalitarian activities of any political tendency • fighting any nationalist or racial discrim ination - Any institutional political affiliation of a journalistic m edia should be clearly and publicly stated. - Should cases of the dism issal of editors-in-chief be controversial, they could be brought before the Representative on Freedom of the Media w ho w ould, upon request by one of the parties involved, act as arbitrator, w hich shall be lim ited to journalistic m atters. He or she w ould speak out in favour or against the dism issal on the basis of the journalistic principles referred to in the m andate 1. This, how ever, shall not affect the right to dism iss the editor-inchief for serious non-journalistic reasons. Furtherm ore, it shall not exclude the ordinary jurisdiction. - Where a com pany holds m ore than one title, it com m its itself to safeguarding journalistic independence and plurality as a contribution to dem ocratisation and to strengthening freedom of the m edia.

1 “The O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media m ay at all tim es collect and receive from participating States and other interested parties (e.g. from organizations or institutions, from m edia and their representatives, and from relevant NGO s) requests, suggestions and com m ents related to strengthening and further developing com pliance w ith relevant O SCE principles and com m itm ents, including alleged serious instances of intolerance by participating States w hich utilize m edia in violation of the principles referred to in the Budapest Docum ent, Chapter VIII, paragraph 25, and in the Decisions of the Rom e Council Meeting, Chapter X. He or she m ay forw ard requests, suggestions and com m ents to the Perm anent Council recom m ending further action w here appropriate”.

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Guidelines to Safeguard the Independence o f Jo urnalism at Axel Springer Preamble The editors of Axel Springer AG are aw are of their responsibility for providing inform ation and shaping public opinion in Germ any. Independence is essential as a basis for their w ork. The guidelines are a concrete expression of Axel Springer’s understanding of the journalistic principles set forth in the Press Code of the Germ an Press Council. Adherence to these guidelines by all editors in their journalistic w ork safeguards the overall conditions that enable independent, critical journalism at Axel Springer. The chief editors are responsible for adherence to the guidelines and their im plem entation in day-to-day w ork. Advertising Point 7 of the Press Code requires publishers and editors to m ake a clear distinction betw een editorial text and advertising copy and points out the need to adhere to the regulations for paid advertising. The journalists at Axel Springer … shall ensure, together w ith the m anagem ent of the publishing house, that a distinction is m ade betw een advertising and editorial m aterial. Advertisem ents m ust not create the im pression, through their overall design or m ajor com ponents, that they are part of the editorial m aterial of the title. Special attention m ust be given to using different typography. If there is any doubt, the advertisem ent m ust be m arked as such clearly and in sufficiently large type. … shall resist attem pts by advertisers or interested parties to influence content, and enter no agreem ents that m ight jeopardize their independence as journalists. Merchandising cam paigns and m edia partnerships m ust be identified as such w here necessary. 202

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Perso nal and business interests It is part of the responsibility of the press tow ards the public that journalistic publications should not be influenced by the personal or business interests of third parties or the personal financial interests of the editors them selves. This is the subject of Points 6 and 7 of the Press Code. The journalists at Axel Springer …shall not report on persons w ith w hom they have a close relationship, especially fam ily m em bers, in the form of copy or photographs unless there is an objective reason for doing so that has been approved by the w riter’s superior. … shall not use their reporting to obtain benefits for them selves or others. …shall consult their superior if m em bership of or the holding of an office or a seat in a society, political party, association or other institution, investm ent in a com pany, perm itted side-line em ploym ent or a relationship w ith persons or institutions m ight create the im pression that the neutrality of their reporting on such societies, political parties, associations, persons or other institutions is thereby im paired. …shall take special care to m eet the legal and professional obligations of the press w ith regard to inside inform ation as set forth in the Germ an Press Council’s publication “Journalistic ethics concerning inside and other inform ation w ith a potential effect on security prices”. Invitatio ns and gifts Point 15 of the Press Code is concerned w ith personal benefit as a danger to independent journalism . Even the appearance that journalists’ freedom of decision m ight be im paired by the acceptance of invitations or gifts should be avoided. The journalists at Axel Springer ...shall ensure that all costs (travelling expenses, entertainm ent etc.) incurred in the course of their research are paid SPRINGER PRINCIPLES

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by the editorial departm ent. Any exceptions m ust be approved by the chief editor. ...shall not accept any gifts that constitute a personal benefit or, if it is im possible to refuse them , shall pass them on to the com pany, w hich w ill then give them to a charity. Treatment o f so urces The journalist’s duty of care in the treatm ent of inform ation sources is extrem ely im portant for journalistic w ork and the public’s opinion of the press. Point 2 of the Press Code regulates the treatm ent of sources in addition to the existing legal provisions. The journalists at Axel Springer …shall in all cases m ake sure that interview s are authorized verbally or in w riting by the person interview ed, even if tim e is very short. 22 August 2003

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O rkla Media’s “Publishing Principles”:

“O rkla Media is dedicated to defending freedom of speech, freedom of inform ation, freedom of the press and the values of dem ocracy. O rkla Media respects, w ithin this fram ew ork, the identity and local traditions of its publications and, regardless of ideology, defends and supports their freedom and independence. O rkla Media respects the principles of journalism in the dem ocratic w orld and, w ithin the fram ew ork of the objects clause of its individual publications – as w ell as joint editorial declarations – defends the independent position of the editor. Neither governm ents, ow ners, advertisers nor any other interest groups are entitled to interfere”.

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Researchers Johannes von D ohnanyi – a German-American journalist w ho, for m ore than 25 years, has been w orking as a foreign and w ar correspondent for various new spapers, m agazines and TV broadcasters. Von Dohnanyi w as born in 1952 in New Haven, Conn./USA. Upon finishing his university degrees in Econom ics and Political Sciences he w as posted in Italy, South East Asia, the Balkans and Brussels. Christian Mö ller M.A. – a project assistant in the O ffice of the O SCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Before that he had w orked from 1999 for the Unabhängige Landesanstalt für das Rundfunkwesen (ULR) in Kiel, one of Germ any’s federal m edia authorities. He holds an M.A. in Media Studies, Germ an Language and Public Law from Christian Albrechts University, Kiel and is currently w orking on his doctoral thesis on the effects of technical innovation on freedom of expression on the Internet.

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w w w .osce.org /f om

Johannes von Dohnanyi Christian M รถller

The Impact of Media Concentration on Professional Journalism  

This study takes an in-depth look at the print media landscape in eight exemplary countries (Germany, Finland, United Kingdom, Hungary, Ital...

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