September 12, 2014
The first hope, better strategies by media companies themselves, is addressed elsewhere. Indeed, most European media attempts have failed so far. And here is why I share these findings freely.
As for the political context, there are both idealistic, policy, and organisational aspects.
The ‘European public space’
First, some in civil society and europoliticians alike dream of a ‘European public space’. It’s a dream I share. But it’s a dream; let’s work on realities. There is some progress on the political party and elections side, with ‘Spitzenkandidaten’ and cross border debates, for example my Berlin address in German here, and as commented here in English.
EU strategy for independent and sustainable media
Second, the EU never had a strong strategy for European media. No democratic set-up ever lasted without a healthy and challenging press around it. This goes beyond the controversial topic of funding and issues of media regulations – the focus classical lobbying.
Answers are to come from independent media companies, not mainly from EU institutions or governments. But the public sector might help. First, by not interfering unduly. Then, by developing appropriate policies. In the upcoming Commission set-up, there are two rays of hope in this regard:
There will be a Commissioner for ‘Digital Economy & Society’, a returning one: Gunther Oettinger from Germany. Germany has strong media and a vibrant Berlin scene for eGov etc. (The coordinating Commission VP Andrus Anselp for ‘Digital Single Market’ may also play a role in digital media etc, but attributions are as of yet unclear to me yet. The revised DG ENTER(prise), DG EMPL(oyment) and ‘better regulation’ portfolios may also play important roles.)
DG COMM’s A2 unit dealt with the late Presseurop, Euranet etc: mixed results so far : apart from Euronews – mainly EU funded projects, no sustainable ‘industrial policy’. It is transferred to DG CONNECT, where I assume it will work closely with the media policy unit: a very good development.
This was inspired by a working group of the Association of European Journalists, called ‘EU Strategy for independent and sustainable media’. Relevant MEPs are currently reading its draft questions.
Finally, PR might be better handled by the new Commission
At the time I write, the allocation of the spokesperson’s office and of DG Communication is not clear yet. Unless its gets allocated to one of the 7 Vice-Presidents, it would report directly to the president’s team (led itself by an experienced media man). In any case, having moved EU media projects elsewhere, and having kept media policy and R&D support at DG CONNECT should ensure better independence. Less confusion between (very limited anyway) EU funding and EU PR needs, also known as ‘spin doctors’.
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