Cultural diversity

Publications and Studies

Transnational media concentrations in Europe - Report

Council of Europe , Strasbourg , November, 2004 - 2004/11

This report prepared by the Media Division, Directorate General of Human Rights of the Council of Europe deals with the trends and effects of transnational media concentrations in Europe and states the need for the Council of Europe, its member states and the media to act in order to ensure that political freedom and cultural diversity may prosper. Although the expression Transnational media concentration is usually understood as meaning the holding of ownership in media companies in different countries, this report takes a broader perspective and considers the following phenomena as part of transnational media concentrations: Media companies/conglomerates distributing their products in many countries, including broadcasts targeted specifically at countries others than the country of residence; Companies operating directly or through subsidiaries, joint ventures or shareholdings in other companies on the media market of more than one country; Companies or individuals or groups of individuals owning media companies in several countries. In addition, other factors may contribute to the development of transnational media concentrations, such as overspill and/or retransmission or the ownership of Internet portals. As a result, fewer media companies exist, market access is hindered for new entrants and editorial freedoms are interfered with, thus limiting the number of independent voices which can make themselves heard and diminishing the diversity of cultural and social life.

On the other hand, according to the report, it is also important for Europe to have economically strong media companies. These have the economic power and critical mass to withstand external pressures, they can act as public watchdog on the European scene, promote European standards, content and diversity and create a European alternative to cultural imports. Problems occur when transnational media companies become too dominant. To this end, the European Parliament has already drawn the potential negative effects that transnational media concentration has on media pluralism and cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe. In this sense, In order to understand the process of transnational media concentrations, different aspects are highlighted in this report, including economic, legal, technological aspects and those relating to audience and content aspects.

In particular, the report maintains that the new media environment at the European and global level has led to a wider choice for the viewers and consumers in the number of channels and other media products available, but has not so far led to the same diversity regarding content. Consequently, the challenge is to ensure that freedom of expression and information and pluralism of voices will be an integral part of the future European media environment, and that the European media will reflect and promote Europe 's cultural and linguistic diversity. Therefore, the report recommends that a number of measures be taken. For example, the Council of Europe should urgently study the appropriate means, including a convention, to prevent the negative impact that this phenomenon may have on freedom of expression, pluralism and diversity. (Available also in French and English) [84]