Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

OSCE: Pluralism Within Media Is Hallmark Of Healthy Democracy

Posted by Info on 15/07/2011

Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights:
If too few voices are heard and too little meaningful information is circulated… Important information will never catch the public’s eye.

I once asked the Ombudsman in one of the former Soviet states what reform he would consider as the most important for human rights protection in the country. His answer was: a truly independent TV channel!

In some countries, there is a lack of genuine competition: independent television and radio channels are denied licenses, critical newspapers have difficulties in buying print paper or with printing and distributing their papers.

Another problem can be that the government buys advertisement space only in the “loyal” media,…Concentration of media ownership is another problem. In Italy, for example, the Prime Minister is the biggest shareholder of by far the largest private television company Its ‘Canale 5’.
There are examples of countries where the state-funded media serve as a mouthpiece of the government. The top management positions are filled by confidants of the President or Prime Minister.

Journalists find stories and sources on blogs, Facebook and by following Twitter feeds.
When no journalists were allowed to enter Libya after unrest broke out in the spring this year, it was films, pictures and messages sent from people’s mobile phones which could be seen in the evening news.

However, even if anyone who has access to the Internet can reach a very large audience, there is only so much information one can digest.

· The European Convention on Human Rights also applies online: legislators, judges, governments and officials have to make sure that any of their laws, decisions and practices aimed at controlling the Internet have a legal basis, need to pursue a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society.

‘New media’, or social media, and public service media can be very useful for media pluralism. But what is also needed, is a strong commitment by authorities to the human rights obligation to promote and protect media pluralism, including on the Internet.


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