In January 2011, Hungary found itself at the centre of a controversy over a new media law that threatened to overshadow the country’s EU Presidency (and saw thousands take to the streets in protest). Rather than being an isolated incident, however, some see the situation in Hungary as being indicative of a wider erosion of press freedoms taking place right across Europe.
In 2010, Reporters Without Borders published its Press Freedom Index under the headline “Europe falls from its pedestal,” claiming that media independence in Europe was steadily being undermined through political interference. The next index (published for the period 2011/2012) argues that several European countries “fall far behind the rest of the continent” and that the gap is growing. The report highlights the situation in Bulgaria and Greece as being of particular concern.
Next week, Debating Europe will be attending the Pan-European Forum on Media Pluralism and New Media in Brussels. Miklos Haraszti, former OSCE representative on freedom of the media, who supports the event, had this to say on the forum’s website:
Governmental or oligarchic monopolies are getting thicker by the year, and not only in post-Soviet nations but also inside the EU walls. The burgeoning internet-based media alone cannot provide for a functioning diversity of public opinion, and yet they are already under attack. This Pan-European Forum should pick the brains of all those concerned for the future of our shared freedoms, and move the European Union beyond non-intervention to become a protector of media diversity in our nations.
What do YOU think? We’ll try to put some of your comments and thoughts to the speakers at the event (including journalists, editors, politicians and academics). How can we guarantee media pluralism in Europe? With many media organisations struggling in the face of changing technology and tightening budgets, are we going to see a media landscape dominated by a few corporate monopolies? Or could new media (as we asked you last month) be a way to guarantee a plurality of opinions and voices? As ever, let us know your comments in the form below.