The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) has released the 2015 edition of Media Pluralism Monitor, one of Europe’s principal measures of the risks to media pluralism.
The Monitor has examined 19 EU countries in 2015 and the results show that none of these countries is free from risks.
The Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) is a tool that helps policymakers, researchers, and civil society to understand the threat to media pluralism in different media systems through research, analysis and the comparison of country data.
In 2015, the Monitor has revealed the following results across four key areas of media pluralism (in incremental order):
- The ‘Basic Protection’ area assesses regulatory safeguards for freedom of expression and the right to information; the status of journalists, and the independence and effectiveness of the national regulatory bodies. The risks detected in this area are limited. But given that this area represents the regulatory backbone of the media sector in every contemporary democracy, even an average risk of 23% represents a threat to media pluralism.
- Most countries are at medium risk and five at high risk examining ‘Political Independence’. This area evaluates the politicisation of the media considering public service media, commercial media outlets, media distribution networks, and news agencies
- A majority of countries show medium risk also in the ‘Social Inclusiveness’ area. This area evaluates access to airtime and media platforms for different cultural and social groups, for local/regional communities, and for people with disabilities, and examines the level of media literacy for the population as a whole.
- In the second area ‘Market Plurality’, most countries are at medium risk. This area deals mainly with media ownership, an economic component that is widely considered essential in the assessment of a level of media pluralism in any given context.
Although some of the four areas show total limited risk levels, there are also specific issues of concern in every MPM areas.
- The area of ‘Basic Protection’, where the average risk was lowest across the four, shows worrying results concerning the protection of journalists, an indicator where most countries show high or medium risk. Unexpectedly, even the analysis of Sweden one of the overall best scorers reveals that there are significant threats to both the physical and digital safety of journalists.
- The ‘Political Independence’ area shows high risk in regard to state advertising, the politicisation of control over media outlets, the independence of PSM and that of news agencies. The data collection for the indicator on politicisation of control over media outlets has proved particularly challenging. In many countries there is insufficient data on the extent of politically affiliated media outlets and on audience/readership shares for some media markets (television, radio or print). This lack of data, per se, represents a potential threat to media pluralism.
- In the area of ‘Social Inclusiveness’, one of the most worrying indicators is the one on media literacy. Most of the 19 countries have no or an underdeveloped media literacy policy, and limited digital skills among the population (only 26 % of the EU:19 population has basic digital skills).
- ‘Market Plurality’ is on the top of the list in terms of most high risk indicators. Eight countries scored high risk in regard to the concentration of media ownership and of cross-media ownership. As a case in point, Lithuania shows extreme levels of media ownership concentration (93 % risk). The legal safeguards against excessive concentration are generally in place in the country but apparently the laws are not implemented effectively.
In 2016 the CMPF will implement the MPM in all 28 EU Member States and two Candidates countries (Montenegro and Turkey). The 2016 Monitor will use both the tested indicators from 2015 and examine new aspects of media pluralism that have emerged during the last pilot implementations rounds. The results will be available in by the end of 2016 (more info).
The MPM2015 report is available at http://monitor.cmpf.eui.eu/mpm2015/results/ along with a series of visualisations, country reports and accompanying data.
The MPM was ideated in 2009 by a European consortium and has already been tested twice by the CMPF, first in 2014 on 9 EU countries and in 2015 on the remaining 19 EU countries. The MPM is a project co-funded by the EU. The data collection was carried out by experienced experts located in the countries of reference, and the key indicators were peer reviewed by external expert.