This study develops a monitoring tool for assessing risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States and identifying threats to such pluralism based on a set of indicators, covering pertinent legal, economic and socio-cultural considerations.
The Monitor was developed in 2009, at the request of the European Commission, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven – ICRI, Central European University – CMCS and Jönköping International Business School – MMTC, together with a consultancy firm, Ernst & Young Belgium and subcontractors in all Member States.
The CMPF, acting independently from the Commission and Member States, updated the indicators used in the MPM 2009 in the light of the growing importance of the Internet and committed to a pilot implementation of the Monitor in a sample of nine EU countries.
Based on scientific and neutral criteria, before launching its test and implementation on 7 March 2014, the CMPF has simplified the MPM, in terms of number of indicators, methodological and data collection feasibility, as well as scope and definition of the media pluralism. This simplification enhances the practical applicability of the MPM research instrument, facilitating its foreseen future implementation in a neutral and standard way across all EU Member States.
The objective of this outline is to describe the logic and the results of the simplification of the Media Pluralism Monitor tool, developed in 2009 for the European Commission .
The first months of the project were devoted to the study of the Media Pluralism Monitor tool and assessment of the feasibility of its practical implementation. As it was widely acknowledged, the Media Pluralism Monitor is a comprehensive and therefore, very complex instrument, which consists of 166 indicators, in order to indicate amongst a variety of risks for media pluralism in a given country.
These indicators cover three areas of risk assessment (supply, distribution and use) for six main risk domains (basic domain, cultural pluralism, political pluralism, geographical pluralism, pluralism of ownership and control, diversity of media types (including PSM) and genres) and 43 specific risks, assessed through the application of three kinds of indicators: legal,economic and socio-political-demographic ones.
In order to be more reliable and have high level of validity, the MPM follows a “holistic” approach, i.e. it avoids the mere use of quantitative measurements (approach that was criticized in the Federal Communication Commission approach in the USA) by combining them with qualitative indicators and analysis. The values of each indicator are scored according to the “user-guide”, developed by the Consortium that carried out the 2009 study on the MPM. The result is a comprehensive tool that covers most of the potential threats to pluralism in an in-depth analytical way.
The MPM was designed to be an evolving tool, “which has deliberately been developed to be sufficiently flexible so as to allow for regular updates and adjustments” (2009, Independent Study). Therefore, from an academic point of view, the MPM is a very challenging instrument that collects and elaborates in a systematic way the most important aspects covered by renowned international and European studies on media pluralism, and even builds up beyond them.In order to better assess the scope and the logic of the diverse indicators, the CMPF academic staff has first discussed the MPM with its original creators during a kick-off meeting of the new project.
The CMPF academic staff realised that the 2009 MPM tool represented a very complex platform to assess risks for media pluralism and for an effective implementation in the pilot project limited time-framework. This realisation brought to the conclusion that the application of the new MPM could be successful only if the instrument was preliminary simplified and streamlined.