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IP/06/1326

Brussels, 6 October 2006

Making sense of today's media content: Commission begins public media literacy consultation

As new information and communication technologies make it ever easier for anyone to publish, broadcast or communicate, so the ability to judge the true merit of media content and make conscious choices – or 'media literacy' – becomes ever more essential for active citizenship and democracy. To cultivate and improve media literacy in the digital age, the European Commission today opened an EU-wide survey of best practices, and will set out its findings and proposals in a Communication in 2007. The survey questionnaire seeks the public's views on media literacy in connection with digital technologies, and information about initiatives in commercial communications, film and the online world. The deadline for replies is 15 December.

"Today, media literacy is as central to active and full citizenship as literacy was at the beginning of 19th century," noted Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "It is also central for entering the new broadband world of content, available everywhere and anytime. I therefore expect today's consultation to highlight good practices at European level and to identify ideas for future initiatives."

Media literacy relates to all media, including television and film, radio and recorded music, print media, videogames, the internet and other new digital communication technologies. As new technologies make it easier for anyone to publish, having the skills to extract meaning from the various media messages that bombard us daily has become critical with the unprecedented amount of information and content available on broadband networks. Those skills, the ability to access, analyse and evaluate the power of images, sounds and messages and to be aware of this when making choices, sum up media literacy. Media literacy thus helps citizens to recognise how the media filter perceptions and beliefs, shape popular culture and influence personal choices. It empowers citizens with the critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills to make them judicious consumers and producers of content.

Media literacy also supports freedom of expression and the right to information, helping to build and sustain democracy. There is also a link between media literacy and better regulation, because a media-literate society is one that is empowered to make its own judgments and choices, and hence is in less need of detailed protective rules.

But such skills need nurturing and finding the best means to do so is a goal of this questionnaire. The questionnaire is in four sections: the first contains general questions about media literacy while the other three collect information about initiatives and projects in commercial communications, audiovisual works and the online world.

The consultation, which supplements the current work of experts under the chairmanship of the European Commission, will be open until 15 December. The findings will guide discussions, notably within the media literacy expert group. They will lead to the adoption of a Commission Communication in the second part of 2007. The consultation is open to all parties including media organisations and industry, formal and non-formal education institutions, content-providers and producers, research and cultural institutions, regulators, and citizens' and consumers' associations.

The Commission initiative on media literacy is an integral part of its general policy to enhance the trust and take-up of content online (see IP/06/1071, IP/06/1124, IP/06/672, IP/05/1261 and IP/05/98).

Further information on the public consultation and the consultation document can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/media_literacy/index_en.htm


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