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IP/08/1091

Brussels, 3 July 2008

Nine editors-in-chief mull future of written press and media pluralism with Commission

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding will meet today nine editors-in-chief of European newspapers such as Le Monde (France) and Lidové Noviny (Czech Republic) in what is becoming a staple high-level dialogue on the health of print media. On the agenda: Is the press maintaining high editorial standards online or is there a rush to be first with the news at all costs? Are print journalists being forced to take on too many roles in the multi-platform world of print, web, podcast and video clip and if so, is quality suffering? Do editors-in-chief from old and new Member States have any common views on media pluralism that could help the Commission in its quest to devise indicators for measuring media pluralism? How could public funding of online activities of broadcasters come into conflict with freedom of the press?

"Europeans take high quality print media for granted. However, the competitive climate has changed over the past years. Press and magazines on the web face stiff competition, not only from other print media titles, but also from pure-play internet media and online activities of broadcasters, which are often partly publicly funded", said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "In Europe, we need a strong, pluralistic written press that can also make use of the new possibilities of the online world. Member States should be very careful not to distort competition with taxpayer's money to the detriment of the written press, for example by funding press-like activities online."

Today’s talks between the editors-in-chief and Commissioner Reding cover several broad subject areas including media pluralism, the consequences for editorial policy of the transition from printing to online press, the impact of new digital business models on journalists' standards as well as new advertising bans considered in some EU Member States. These high-level talks are a debating platform where the press can raise any current concerns that it has, such as the role of public service broadcasting on the web or the impact of new car labelling proposals on advertising (IP/08/835). At the same time they offer the opportunity for the Commission to learn about the latest front-line developments in areas like advertising and new business models, as well as the testing of public policy approaches.

In the meeting, Commissioner Reding will repeat and underscore one of the most important principles of EU Media Policy: "There should be no new advertising bans at EU level, as these could hit in a disproportionate manner the media and especially the written press. I will therefore continue to oppose all initiatives aimed at introducing new EU advertising bans for alcohol, for car advertising or for sweets."

This is the fourth dialogue between the written press and the Commission. It follows meetings in autumn 2005 (IP/05/1164), autumn 2006 (IP/06/1445) and May 2007 (IP/07/713). These high-level meetings were all organised by the Commission's Media Task Force, responsible for screening all Commission output so as to make sure that Commission initiatives do not unintentionally damage the editorial or commercial freedom of the printed press.

The Commission has always invited editors from all EU Member State for these meetings, but their availability depends of course on often busy schedules and personal interest in EU affairs. The editors gathered today come from the Czech Republic (Lidové Noviny), Estonia (Eesti Ekspress), Hungary (Heti Világgazdaság – HVG), Latvia (Chas) Lithuania (Verslo Žinios) , Greece (Kathimerini) and Sweden (Fokus). For the first time, also editors from France (from Le Monde and Rue 89) will attend the meeting, thereby reflecting the start of the French Presidency on 1 July.

For more information:

For more on the activities of the Commission's Media Task Force, see:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media_taskforce/index_en.htm

Annex

High-Level Meeting between Commissioner Reding and European Editors-in-Chief

Participants

Mr Martin Ahlquist Mr Bertrand Le Gendre
Redaktionschef och ansvarig utgivare Editorialiste
Fokus Le Monde Fokus
Stockholm Paris
Sweden France


Mr Rolandas Barysas Mr Pal Reti
Redaktorius Föszerkesztö
Verslo Žinios Heti Világgazdaság – HVG
Vilnius Budapest
Lithuania Hungary


Mr Pierre Haski Mr Veselin Vačkov
Directeur de la Publication Šéfredaktor
Rue 89 Lidové Noviny
Paris Praha
France The Czech Republic


Mr Priit Hõbemägi Ms Ksenija Zagorovska
Editor-in-Chief Editor in Chief
Eesti Ekspress Chas
Tallinn Riga
Estonia Latvia


Mr. Nikos Konstandaras
Managing editor
Kathimerini
Athens
Greece


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