murdoch-speaks
Back in June, we asked you how we can best guarantee a healthy media in Europe. We had some interesting comments and suggestions sent in; some bemoaning the influence that media tycoons like Rupert Murdoch and Silvio Berlusconi have over national politics, others arguing that independent media cannot surive without wealthy owners to prop them up. Recently, regular Debating Europe commenter Christos picked up on this issue over on his blog, arguing that Europe needs “pan-European” media if it is to ever truly “break the voices of the monopolies, the propagandists and those blinded by nationalism.”

Christos suggested that pan-European media would be the first step towards a European demos:

Once you receive regularly the news of other countries with a more unbiased perspective, then not only [do] you have a better judgement but you also understand what the people in another EU country are going through, how they deal with the crisis and what solutions or ideas they are putting forward.

Is Christos right, or is it too idealistic to think that pan-European media will ever be possible? For one thing, what about the language barriers between different European countries?

We had the chance to interview several MEPs on this issue at the Pan-European Forum on Media Pluralism and New Media in Brussels, and we put some of your questions and comments to them (including from Christos). We began with the following suggestion sent in by Catherine:

The first step has to be to tighten strongly the right to monopoly. Look at the insane way Rupert Murdoch was able to exploit the situation through his money and the power that gave him… What we need is a press and media service that gives a wide view on all matters political.

We put this comment to Andrew Duff, British Liberal Democrat MEP and president of the Union of European Federalists, to see how he would respond:

Andrew Duff was adamant that media, like all other areas of the European economy, was vulnerable to monopolies. Therefore, he argued, the EU should step in to legislate on the issue in order to uphold the single market:

We are going to have to have a directive on media pluralism that will apply the same competition rules to the press and to the media as apply to all the other sections of industry. And, if we did that, it would be extremely controversial to put in place, but it would severely embarass at least these press barons like Murdoch and, indeed, Berlusconi.

However, we had a counter-point sent in from Nikolai, who argued that breaking up monopolies would not solve the problem:

The reason media plurality is under threat is that traditional media (print) is simply not profitable as an independent operation. Even if we limit Murdoch and his ilk to ownership of x number of titles, those remaining will need either a very rich sponsor to back a money losing operation [or] the titles will either cease, merge or become part of a stable of titles under one owner.

We asked Andrew Duff to respond to this point. If you broke up the media empires of people like Rupert Murdoch, would it ultimately just hurt media independence?

We also spoke to Claude Moraes, British Labour Party MEP and the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Europe. We put Nikolai’s point to him and asked him to respond:

Well, Nikolai is right. Printed media is massively declining. In fact, there’s going to be a tipping point where printed media is going to just practically disappear, and we’re almost getting to that tipping point. But, unfortunately, the print media in some countries, like the United Kingdom and one or two other countries, is still extremely powerful. Because it’s not the number of people that are reading the print media, it’s how the print media dominates the agenda of broadcasting media and, indeed, digital media. It’s the quality of the stories and the ideas that then feeds into the psychology of a whole nation. So, print media is still incredibly important until we get to that tipping point.

Not everybody may be happy about the amount of political influence wielded by some media magnates, but do we really have a choice if we want to keep media independent of government? Dobrinka, for example, puts the point even more forcefully than Nikolai, arguing that media pluralism has always been under threat (and not just print media).

Media pluralism… is always under threat. It is [simply] that media are not profitable as independent operations. Media independence is a dream.

We put Dobrinka’s comment to Judith Sargentini, Dutch GreenLeft MEP and leader of the GreenLeft delegation, and asked her to react. Is media pluralism really under threat in Europe, or is this just business as usual?

Finally, we took the following comment from Christos, who called for:

More European media, channels, radio, newspapers, blogs, magazines, independent from any national control and their elites. There are many young journalists and bloggers that think outside their “national box” and see things in a more “pan-European” way.

Again, we asked Judith Sargentinin for her view. Should we have pan-European media in Europe? And how could it be achieved?

What do YOU think? Would pan-European newspapers, radio stations and TV channels help create a common European demos? Or is such a dream too idealistic? Would the linguistic and cultural barriers simply be too difficult to overcome? Should the EU intervene to break up big media empires and encourage greater competition? Or would this risk harming freedom of speech and media independence? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – World Economic Forum

41 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Gonzalo San Gil

    Of Course, EU Should.
    What Harms the “freedom of speech and media independence” is, precisely, The permissiveness with the “Big Media Empires”.

  2. Davor Bilobrk Zekan

    Too many languages… With the accepance of English as a primary one, something can be done. There is Eurosport… Why not Euronews, Eurobusiness, Euroculture…?

  3. MandyandPj Leneghan

    Certainly should have better labeling, like cigarettes. For example, ‘this newspaper, tv news, radio news or documentaries etc., should contain words to this effect, ‘The following reports/comments are presented in a manner designed to facilitate harmony between the ruled and the rulers’ and are not necessarily and quite often not, factual’ :) ….pj

  4. Helena Jeanne Tina Fornaro

    He who controls the “verb” controls history… I should add, controls the way the present understands history, and itself…new media cannot be made, they will evolve and yes what EU parliament could do is highlight links, that are not obvious, between big money, governments and the media… Then let the citizens judge.

  5. Christos Mouzeviris

    Thank you Mrs Sargentini for your comment. You definitely got a point. But I have suggested in my blog years back to have a new pan-European TV channel with an name like (this is imaginary and just for an example) EUTV. But instead of broadcasting in one language, it could be something like the euronews and have EUTV Svenska, EUTV Deutch, EUTV Slovensko, EUTV Portugues, EUTV Espagnol etc…. Or simply if you’d like to have more European news or issues in our national media and in our national languages, I would also add that why not movies documentaries tv series and other tv programs from other EU countries translated (either subtitled or dubbed) in our national languages. Why keep watching American tv series and not European? In that was we could give jobs in our actors, directors, cartoonists, tv producers and others over here in our side of the Atlantic and boost the European tv and film industry.

    here are some links on the issue. Thank you.

    http://eblanademocraticmove.blogspot.ie/2010/10/pan-european-tv-channel-more-european.html

    http://eblanademocraticmove.blogspot.ie/2010/10/more-on-idea-of-pan-european-tv.html

    • Arthur

      And who would pay for this hypothetical EUTV? Funded by governments, like some monstrous euro-BBC, I suppose?

    • Christos Mouzeviris

      The European tax payers together with the EU….. We spend way too much in policies like CAP, we could spend less on them and invest in media, innovation etc. We pay too much to have two parliaments one in Strasbourg one in Brussels. All those little unnecessary stupid red-tape regulations. We pay taxes for “national” media only to be brainwashed by the likes of Murdoch… Time to change all that and put our money where it matters….

  6. Gonzalo San Gil, PhD.

    What Harms the “freedom of speech and media independence” is, precisely, The permissiveness with the “Big Media Empires”….

    Europe -and so The W@rld- need to Promote REAL Free Media and narrow the chances of Big Media Conglomerates to Getting Bigger, destroying (“acquiring”) The Independent Ones (which, perhaps, could receive balanced Public Financing).

  7. Nikolai Holmov

    Living in Ukraine and watching by the day the how EU is literally losing the interest of the Ukrainian public, there is an argument for EU news directly from the EU being broadcast in Ukrainian (or Russian).

    I say this because the EU, quite frankly, is absolutely hopeless at reaching Ukrainian society. It wastes its time trying to go via governments past and present to reach the Ukrainian public, and now pumps Euro millions into Ukrainian civil society which also fails desperately to connect with the Ukrainian public.

    That money, for all the good it currently does, may as well be spent on an EU media outlet in Ukraine that communicates in a language all Ukrainians can understand. The level of English here is simply not high enough to engage the majority of society in anything other than Ukrainian or Russian.

    Therefore, aside from the EU’s concerns over Ms Tymoshenko, you would draw an absolute blank from almost all Ukrainians over anything else the EU says about or actually does within Ukraine – and it does a fair bit, either individually on in concert with partners such as UNDP for example. It’s just hardly anybody here knows, because EU communication here is beyond abysmal. It is worse than that to be honest but forum decorum prevents using a crude expletive that would adequately sum it up.

    However, Ukraine is not a bubble or sat behind an iron curtain any longer. Internet penetration is fairly high and rising. Amongst the 80+ TV channels I have BBC News 24, an Israeli news channel, Russian news channels and a plethora of local, regional and national channels taking both a supportive and highly critical line against the current government.

    Ukrainian social networks and forums are extremely active and very occasionally something the EU said or does unrelated to Tymoshenko will get some discussion. Such instances though are as rare as a believed sighting of a unicorn wearing spotted silk underpants, designed by YSL.

    If this is the case in Ukraine, I have no reason to believe it would be any different in Slovakia, Latvia or anywhere else.

    If the EU wants to generate bottom-up support for the EU project, then there is no alternative other than direct communication from the bottom-up. It has to avoid communication to the masses via sovereign governments and civil society.

    Websites, easy to navigate or not, is simply not enough!

  8. Rui Duarte

    I think a society governed by «property» is both intrinsically and utilitarianly inferior to a society governed by the «polis». The middle age in The West was worse than the roman «rule of law» or the greek «democracy». ANY society where societal decisions are determined by «property» will be both «less productive» and «less free» than a free society. Media empires are both societal in nature, since they form public opinion and shape cultural (thus societal) identities and, since they are «empires», they are based on property. The opinions of Rupert Murch are important not because he is intelligent, cult or creative: the opinions and decisions of Rupert Murdoch are important bbecause he owns the media. Media empires thus impersonate much of what is wrong about the way our societies have been evolving: towards a «rule of property», and away from the rule of the intelligent, the rule of the educated or the «rule of the many»; of pluralism; of democracy. Media empires, more than any other empires should be borbiden. It should be TABU!

  9. Albert Saxén

    Well, as I’ve said in my book, symbolism is the only role government should have with regards to business. To step in and break up monopolies, not bail them out.
    So, the first, absolutely. The latter…

    New media, I’d say, is showing us the way in this regard. They also appease (wrong word, soothe =) all concerns and fears of those anti-advertising.

    @Davo ;p There is EuroNews =)

  10. Albert Saxén

    pj..what do you mean by the quite often not factual? and the ruled is especially socialistiic
    how about letting ppl govern themselves. yea, in fact, laws used to curtail smoking, begging ..the veil even but .. are completelyuseless.
    helena, isn’t that ..dnt they already do that?

    Investigative journalism.
    or maybe that’s what you meant.

  11. Albert Saxén

    Rui your italicizing democracy is insulting. in fact, Atheneian democracy ..if you will, the current one is corrupt? that wasn’t

    A Free society is one where you can own property. socialism has failed and so capitalism is failing now too
    Third way policies remain viable. but the politics have changed (equally, thx to Obummer (
    Rupert Murdoch is a hero n i like the Wsj. =)
    i am sry to see yourself much like pj here ..you fall bk on taboos. socialism is that, forbid everything, laugh at differences
    Take I don’t believe in taboos,
    everything should be freely discussed.

  12. Hans Metzke

    The first thing that comes to my mind is a quote from Johnny Cash:

    “…That the nation was really conscious of itself as a nation.
    Railroad tracks crossed the land as did telegraph wires.
    Public opinion and great ideas were now reflected on a national basis.”

    That’s when the United States, after the Civil War, really became a nation.

    Let us now reflect our public opinion and our great ideas on a national (European) basis. So, pan-European media: YES!

  13. catherine benning

    Pan European media is the one good solution to the major disfunction of news and information currently dividing our States. Just as long as we don’t end up with the kind of propaganda we see across the US, where the corporations and advertisers choose the message we receive.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpKoN40K7mA&feature=related

    Political information and news has become the propaganda of the wealthy one percent. And how they do it is, they withdraw advertising if you don’t spread their views and lies to the people in order to keep them from taking the lions share of the world finances.

    What the Rupert Murdoch’s won’t tell the people or, come to that any Capitalist media, is this, we have been taken to the cleaners by more than paying out our tax money to bankers who simply pay themselves bonus after bonus with it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ9H63Vx4-k

    And what you will not here on any news channel either in the US or here. Because they are all following the same ruinous economic policy and they don’t want you to realise what is happening in real terms.

    http://rdwolff.com/content/are-obama-romney-different-economic-policy

  14. MandyandPj Leneghan

    I was being or trying to be, diplomatic. By quite often not factual, read, pure and utter propaganda. I personally believe that the state should not be allowed to interfere in adult individual choices where those choices do no harm to others, for example, taking drugs, should not be a criminal offence. I do believe in rules though but not rulers (or leaders etc) and those rules to be within a socialist framework. Socialism has not failed, it has never been fully implemented. Everywhere socialism has been attempted, it has been targetted, attacked and deliberately sabotaged by organised crime, also known as capitalism. What we managed to achieve in Europe was social democracy, the best of capitalism tempered by the best of socialism. That lasted until the forces of organised crime (the US regime) found itself with the time to focus its attention on social democracy (post the fall of the USSR) What we now have ir the worse aspects of both capitalism and socialism, with very little democracy. The intent of organised crime is to remove all traces of socialism or social justice. Citizens should be standing up against these economic terrorists. The reason this is not happening (generally speaking) is due to the success of their propaganda that is delivered by their news&entertainment media, which they own and/or control. All that most people need, is a home, some furnishing, food and a few services, how easy should that be? Why all the bs?…pj

  15. MandyandPj Leneghan

    I was being or trying to be, diplomatic. By quite often not factual, read, pure and utter propaganda. I personally believe that the state should not be allowed to interfere in adult individual choices where those choices do no harm to others, for example, taking drugs, should not be a criminal offence. I do believe in rules though but not rulers (or leaders etc) and those rules to be within a socialist framework. Socialism has not failed, it has never been fully implemented. Everywhere socialism has been attempted, it has been targetted, attacked and deliberately sabotaged by organised crime, also known as capitalism. What we managed to achieve in Europe was social democracy, the best of capitalism tempered by the best of socialism. That lasted until the forces of organised crime (the US regime) found itself with the time to focus its attention on social democracy (post the fall of the USSR) What we now have ir the worse aspects of both capitalism and socialism, with very little democracy. The intent of organised crime is to remove all traces of socialism or social justice. Citizens should be standing up against these economic terrorists. The reason this is not happening (generally speaking) is due to the success of their propaganda that is delivered by their news&entertainment media, which they own and/or control. All that most people need, is a home, some furnishing, food and a few services, how easy should that be? Why all the bs?…pj

  16. Peter Schellinck

    Basically concentration of power in a democracy is unacceptable. That’s why no commercial or corporate power should control information and culture just as no state or political power should. Citizens are to be free to share, communicate and conceive information within their community at the benefit of their society.

    The interaction and blend with the global picture serves as an enrichment and base for local progress and exchange. The media in our world has a critical social, cultural, political and economic function. Further more the media must uphold the values that underlie structures of citizenship in democratic societies and in particular, respect for human rights, culture, equality, diversity and pluralism.

    Hence, the concentration of media power in the hands of ever fewer operators poses a direct threat to democracy and pluralism since it can potentially interfere with the public’s right to know by limiting the sources of information, restrict freedom of expression by limiting or controlling the available channels and manipulate public opinion by controlling content.

    This threat is compounded by the proliferation of cross ownership structures that create unethical conflicts of interest particularly in cases where news media own, or are owned by, non-news businesses. Europe should prevent the formation of dominant positions in the market, control media concentration and cross-ownership trends that can result in the monopolisation of the information society.

    Trying to come out of the banking crisis we already learned that we should ensure that the logic of the market and the drive for profit does not prevail over the needs of society. Our aim should be that the development of the information society is to be progress in the real sense and thus it is essential that we maintain therein the kind of media that will be instrumental in supporting citizenship in a modern democracy and not be confronted with a “fait accompli”.

    Standards should be established to ensure and safeguard fair, unobstructed and non-discriminatory access for all broadcasters to a platform and service infrastructure so that media barons do not become ‘the gatekeepers’ to our civil society.

  17. Thomas Moerman

    Just a short comment. Euronews does exist, as do various other initiatives such as EUobserver, European Voice. None of them are too well known or successful so far.

    The question is not whether we need it, the question is what we’ll need to make it work.

  18. Jason Brown

    Does the EU have a “pan-Europe” media plurality?

    No, it does not. But, yes, it must.

    An EU-funded centre of excellence for media plurality would set a precedent for other world regions.

    Not another policy group, an actual live, breathing, brimstone crunching news outlet. One that reviews existing news media sentiment, in order to better reflect an EU outlook, outside of the officially sanctioned certitudes.

    In other words, the EU needs a BBC, without the political interference. Scary bit. But answer me this: would the GFC have been as bad if journalists were allowed to do their job, and do their job properly?

    Count the cost. Estimate the alternative. Oh, that’s right, no one has, it’s called the GFC.

  19. Michael Tsikalakis

    Once we had talked about European Identity. Pan-European media will be the basis of the European Identity Formation. Language barriers will be no longer a problem. The majority of the European “citizens” speak English and every year this majority is becoming bigger and bigger and it won’t be long until everybody in Europe will speak the same language. So YES pan-European media is the answer.

  20. Kleoniki Kipourou

    Pan-European media in terms of concentration NO. We don’t need a European version of Fox News. We do need media to cover extensively what is happening in other European countries and we do need them to cover the events under a European and not a nationalistic prism.

  21. Eric David Bosne

    Yes, something in needed. We barely hear about other countries life styles, problems and solution. For example, in Portugal the coverage about the inundation in Europe was very poor. The only thing we know about are the other countries riots.
    Something is needed, and it must be in the national language. Even if it is just 45min a day on a existing non paid channel it would be already of great value.

  22. Miguel Cabrita

    We need independent and non corporative media to cover matters of interest to the Union, its affairs and problems. National media and corporative media foci are in national perspectives and national public opinions on these subjects and mainly contribute to misinformation on whats really going on in europe.

  23. Eduardo Barroso

    I totaly agree! We need more information about Europe and its culture, economy, problems and solutions, etc!!!!

  24. Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Dear admin, thank you for responding to my proposal. It’s now up to the commenters to respond to the new dilemma. How far shall we put our limit line of our freedom? Shall we follow the dark path that they are leading us and till when?

    • Debating Europe

      Dear Nikolaos, thank you for your suggestion. We hope to see you commenting on our website on our future posts as well!

  25. Ivan Drvarič

    Guess this is the worst situation that we can handle. Nobody is able to accept the responsibility. EU commission is distancing from the responsibility since their involvement in the demands to cut public workers for 4000 did not include demand that public TV should be closed. Country government on the other side found the alibi for closing down and shutting down the institution through which people could manifest their voice and did not take responsibiility but use the demands of EU demands and financial global institutions as alibi for internal political purges. This is not good sign for trust and positive altitude and faith in EU community as consistent and stable community in the future. Guess EU let down people of Greece. No matter if they desserve with their directions and irregularities in their consumption and country economy based on masqueraded prosperity, they still not desserve to be let down with Europe Union institutions. It is the fear that instutitions of EU are no more able to represent people on the field where production and added value suppose to be produced. It is the fear that EU bureacracy is more and more cancerous self-centered bureau cratic tissue if not able to feel with people on the field and act and direct , And this very dangerous trend.

  26. Alexandros Ampatzimpasis

    keep media pluralism and cut off politishians minimalism. some people define our lives! who are they? we are nothing but numbers for them. ok, we need to change that. let’s make them numbers too.

  27. Roland Knaap

    this is based on the ideology that everything should be the same everywhere. This ideology has no roots in reality, where pluralism is one of the true desires of european people. In the end it is very easy; what will be the necessary investments? high, what is the risk of success? i think its low, so this is not a practical nor a desirable idea.

  28. Tamás Heizler

    A big YES; we would need something like CNN and Fox News are in the USA, but here in Europe it should be broadcasted in 3 languages (English, German, French) and subtitled in 24 languages. That would increase European people’s feeling of belonging together and also would develop their language abilities. (Now in Hungary we only have local channels and only in Hungarian language :S )

    Of course it would be technically hard to create programmes in 3 languages and then to subtitle all the 3 to all the 24 languages (3×24 = 72) and making this channell available in all the countries and also making it available for people to select language and also select subtitles. But it’d be worth.

    Maybe one solution can be to do it as 3 parallel channels on 3 different frequencies (for example: EuroNews English, EuroNews Deutsch, EuroNews Français) and in each case you can select subtitles from the teletext pages (for example: teletext page 101: Bulgarian, teletext page 102: Czech, teletext page 103: Danish, etc.)

  29. Tamás Heizler

    Some things that I’ve forgotten in my last comment:
    The subtitles of this TV channel should be available in the following languages as well (because of their wide usage): Catalan, Galician, Basque, Scottish Gaelic and Wels. So in this case it’d be 29 languages.

    My other idea that when they’re making interviews, then they should make it in the own language of interviewee (so they should have reporters from every EU countries) and broadcasting it in original language both on English, French and German channels with English/French/German subtitles. And these subtitles can be overwritten by the 29 kind of teletext subtitles.
    So an example for what I’m talking about: Let’s say I’m watching the English language version of this pan-European TV channel. Then I can turn on Hungarian subtitles (from let’s say the page 107 of the teletext) or even I can watch it without subtitles if I want. Then let’s say they are making an interview with a Portuguese politician. In this case a Portuguese worker of the TV channel does the interview in Portuguese. This interview would be subtitled in English basically (and in German and French on the other two channels). So if I watched the English language programme without subtitles then I’ll see English subtitles for the Portuguese interview. On the other hand if I watched the English language programme with Hungarian subtitles, then the Hungarian subtitles will overwrite the English subtitles, so I’ll see the Portuguese interview with Hungarian subtitles. I hope I was clear :)

    The programs of this channel should not only be about EU level things and politics, but also tourism and presenting all the countries and presenting cities towns. It would increase the interest towards other EU countries and also increase tolerance and the understanding of other EU nations. We can just profit of this.

    If all these will be done, then
    1. European people will feel more belongingness to each other and to Europe
    2. their foreign language (English, German, French) abilities will increase
    3. and also because of the interiews made on national languages, people will get to know more about the other 28 languages, how they sound, maybe they’ll learn some basic words from other languages, so European people would listen to the 28 other languages on daily basis which may increase tolerance and may increase the mood to learn little EU languages as well just because of personal interest (e.g. someone watches a programme about trip to Latvia or Slovenia and says that I really like Latvia/Slovenia and the Latvian/Slovenian language so I’ll learn the language and/or I’ll visit this country)

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