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Media Freedom and Pluralism

Beata Klimkiewicz

Introduction. Harmonizing European Media Policy

Supranational Regulatory Trends and National Responses

Beata Klimkiewicz

Texte intégral

1Media policy in Europe faces a twofold challenge. On the one hand, new technologies and media services such as digital television, satellite radio, mobile content applications, video on demand, and new inter-net services are fundamentally transforming media environments and media use. on the other hand, the historical enlargement integrating the countries of eastern and Central Europe within the EU’s political, economic, and legal structures implies fundamental geopolitical and cultural change, both at the European level and in the region. These new conditions in the making can be approached in one of three ways: either through a chronological description of different consecutive stages (a historical approach); through a case-by-case description of different national or country experiences (a geographical approach), or through an analytical approach aiming at conceptualizing main problem areas and open questions in European media policy today. As can be surmised from the table of contents, the authors of this volume followed the third route.

2This choice, however, does not eliminate time and space considerations at the expense of a problem-oriented focus. Differentiation and delineation of problem areas is deeply rooted in an emerging logic of media policy, which requires a new type of complexity. In other words, national borders still matter, but so do sub-national (regional), supranational and global constellations. a new complexity thus depends on switching between different spatial, cultural, and political levels and constant redefinition of their institutional settings and fields of competencies.

3The dynamics of globalization bring in a systemic change of media markets, including an intensifying pressure for media ownership concentration and new forms of alliances cutting across traditionally divided media sectors; audience fragmentation; syndication of media content and services; and new relations between different actors of media systems, such as platform providers and content makers. New forms of media use and modes of social interactions with the media redesign everyday social activities and change the character of social institutions (Schulz, 2004).

4Both globalization and convergence reshape the logic of media policymaking and challenge traditional regulatory models. The conceptualization of problems to be dealt with by regulators, the processes by which regulatory decisions are made, and the operationalization of regulatory rationales are all in a state of flux, both at the European and national levels. The complexity and interpretational richness of such media policy issues as media competition, cultural diversity, access and use, public interest, media accountability, media pluralism, democratic participation, and the role of the media in a larger society are subject to ambiguity and constant redefinition.

5At the same time, continuous integration of media regulatory functions of the nation-state into the European Union, as well as adaptation and incorporation of European decisions and strategies into domestic policy discourse and practice, have had significant implications for the legal and regulatory systems concerning the media. The historical fifth and sixth EU-enlargement waves eastward generated institutional change both at the EU macro-level and the level of eastern and Central European media regulatory institutions and regimes (especially in terms of opening media markets for EU ownership, promotion of EU audiovisual content and services, control of state aid provided to public service media and telecom industry, and privatization of the communications sector). a constant adoption of EU media policy and the Council of Europe’s standards affected various facets of those media systems that underwent post-communist reform.

6The present collection of essays seeks to systematize recent major policy developments related to two main pan-European institutions— the European Union and the Council of Europe, through the perspective of new EU Member states. The analytical problem-related approach seems to better reflect a media policy process as an interrelated part of European integration, formation of European citizenship, and exercise of communication rights within the European communicative space. The question of normative expectations is to be compared in this case with media policy rationales, mechanisms of implementation (transposing rules from EU to national levels), and outcomes.

7A familiar historical narrative describing the imitation of Western media policy models (the “accidental” phenomenon of globalization), and then the incorporation of EU media order (counteracting with globalization) by Central European countries, does not seem to fully ex-plain two circumstances. The first one is varied national approaches towards fundamental media policy rationales—media freedom and diversity. The second circumstance is significant structural and regulatory commonalities that set Central European post-communist countries apart from older EU Member states. This volume aims to re-address these questions critically and identify major contentious issues in the debate over harmonization of European media policy.

8Media regulation has traditionally been divided between contentrelated aspects (such as a ban on hate speech; promotion of national, local, and European works; and protection of minors) and structural aspects (such as rules on media ownership, PSM, community media, and subsidies for local media). The present book tests proportions between these two regulatory dimensions and brings together leading scholars in their respective fields, most of whom co-operated on this research theme under the scheme of COST action a30 “east of West: setting a new Central and eastern European research agenda” (2005–2009)—Working Group 3 Media Policy and regulation. The vast majority of the book’s authors come from the region, although the perspective goes beyond Central and Eastern Europe.

Three patterns

9The European dimension of the current media policy process is well reflected in the scholarly literature, which offers numerous approaches to explain parameters of media policy thinking, language, and practice, especially within a strong context of governance at the pan-European level. These mirror the fundamental divide between the belief in efficiency of market forces or deregulation to create a free and diverse media environment, versus the belief that regulation is needed in order for social, cultural and democratic needs to be met and communication rights to be fully exercised (Humphreys, 2008; Einstein, 2004; Ward, 2002). The process of harmonization, increasingly supporting the national level of media policymaking, has formed different patterns through which a set of interrelated decisions taken by an institutional actor (CEC, EP, COE) or group of actors achieves its coherence and resonance with media policy rationales.

10The networked pattern of harmonization refers to a structure of policy formation and decision-making, in which pan-European institutions, states, societal organizations, and interest groups are vertically and horizontally disaggregated but linked together by co-operative exchange (as in corporatism) (Borzel, 1997; Ansell, 2000). The logic of policymaking results in bringing together unique configurations of actors around specific projects oriented towards institutional solutions (Grande, 2001). Policy attunement is distributed over various territorial levels (regional, national, pan-European) and over various functional arenas (e.g. competition, audiovisual policy, human rights). European media policy is thus formed by a relatively large number of formally independent but functionally interdependent actors and institutions (such as states, EU institutions—the EC and EP in particular—Coe, media industry consortia, and various interest groups), while policymaking processes might be reflected in a convergence of networks operating simultaneously in multiple functional arenas and at multiple geographic scales (Ansell, 2000, p. 322). The overlapping of EU and Coe activities is especially relevant in this context.

11The asymmetry pattern stresses imbalance between pro-market deregulatory “negative integration” and market-correcting regulatory and “positive integration.” Fritz Scharpf (1999, p. 45) argues that “negative integration” refers to the removal of barriers to free and undistorted competition. “Positive integration,” on the other hand, concerns reconstitution of an economic system of regulation through market-correcting measures. Scharpf emphasizes the structural asymmetry of EU governance, gravitating toward “negative integration,” while “positive integration” has contributed little to the increase of institutional capacity and problem-solving (Sharpf, 1999, p. 157). This regulatory asymmetry has been repeatedly echoed by other scholars when analyzing EU or European media policies. Alison Harcourt (2005) has stressed the essentially market-making, “deregulatory” nature of EU media policies. Venturelli (1998) has underlined the absence of legislative clarification on positive information rights as political rights and the dominance of negative free-speech rights justifying deregulatory and liberalizing policies in the media sphere, which contrast with mechanisms for supporting media production (European quota). Dennis McQuail and Jan van Cuilenburg (2003) see normative grounds for deregulatory asymmetry in a new communications policy paradigm mainly driven by an economic and technological logic. This media policy shift legitimizes retreat from regulation where it interferes with market development or technological objectives, and it prioritizes economic and technological over social-cultural and political welfare when priorities have to be set.

12The bargaining pattern reflects changes in the distribution of power between public European institutions and private actors in favor of the former as a result of joint media policymaking. Despite the limited regulatory competence of the EU and other supra-national institutions in the field of media policy, European public actors (EU institutions, Coe) have had opportunities to use purposefully various “internal” ties and commitments generated by joint decision-making to strengthen their bargaining position vis-à-vis “external” e.g. private actors (Grande, 2001, p. 19). In the case of AVMS directive drafting, the European Commission has compensated for its limited autonomy in relation to the integrated system of joint decision-making (the Council, EP, Member states) by gains in autonomy vis-à-vis interest groups (e.g. media industry), especially in terms of protective measures (European quota, protection of minors and human dignity).

13not surprisingly, and given the enormous complexity of policy environment shaping technological conditions, traditional and new media performance, as well as the institutional setting of media regulatory bodies, outcomes of European media policy have been marked by all three patterns. Most scholars, however, conclude that European media policy has been most influenced by the “asymmetric” EU approach to communication, which reflects the polity’s construction: it is closer to neoliberalism than the European social welfare model (Harcourt, 2005; Harrison and Woods, 2007; Sarikakis, 2008). The European policy environment has naturally been institutionally and geographically broader than the EU, but the gravitation towards EU priorities proved to define a policy direction, especially in new Central and east European Member states, which have transposed the acquis communitaire and institutional mechanisms during the last two accession waves. On the whole, the logic of media policymaking in Europe responds to radical technological change fundamentally redefining media institutions, patterns of media use and regulatory models, traditionally locked in functional, sectoral, institutional, and national boundaries.

Media policy trends

14Current media policy trends integrating policy developments at the European level with regulatory and structural specificities at the national level may be characterized by the following aspects:

  1. Different standards of rationality—Problematization of issues within the process of media policymaking stems not only from different (conflicting) interests seeking diverse solutions within a framework of the same rationales. it is also grounded in different standards of rationality, proposing divergent choices, each of which may be perfectly rational given the different logic and methods of reality conceptualization (Staniszkis, 2004, p. 19). Herein, both market-oriented deregulatory and social-and cultural-oriented regulatory rationales may be addressed by diverse (even contradictory) measures and may have a dissimilar weight when promoted by different actors. This of course enhances the complexity of current media policy formation and implies interpretational richness and constant redefinition, and thus also the ambiguity of the language used.

  2. Institutional interdependence—The organizational framework for European media policy formation and implementation is characterized by a high degree of institutional interdependence. a dense network of institutional ties generates interactions, which have both negative outcomes (administrative competition, policy deadlock) and positive outcomes (policy diffusion, policy learning, parametric adjustment) (Grande, 2001, p. 10). Technological convergence and the complexity of current media policy urges the creation of new regulatory bodies at the national level, which share, and in some cases duplicate, competencies with traditional regulators.

  3. Complementarity—Measures and means of policy implementation (mainly embodied in media and communication laws, regulatory mechanisms, self-regulation, or media performance) are increasingly designed in a complementary manner. This process involves various public policy actors (although not at equal stances), such as the EU institutions, national media regulatory agencies, government ministries, professional and media industry institutions, and NGOS.

  4. Functional convergence—Functional convergence is largely driven by new technological environment, but also the process of policy attunement: The objects of policy analysis and regulation become accepted as common in various public spheres (Sarikakis, 2008). Multiple media and communication services regulated by different sectoral policy in past, are more increasingly dealt with in a common “information society/communication and media” umbrella framework. Policy attunement reaches different levels of governance: regional, national, supra-national.

  5. Challenge of democratic legitimacy—The high complexity and constant redefinition of European media policy against technological changes and economic determinants causes a serious risk to transparency in a policymaking process. not only is civic participation and democratic control limited in a multilateral, source- and knowledge-demanding negotiating process, but voices critical of the current state of policy proposals are also marginalized (Freedman, 2008), and process and space for civic participation are lacking (Kaitatzi-Whitlock, 2005). On the one hand, current social systems demand great trust; on the other hand, technocratic and industry-oriented policymaking process limits civic participation.

Structure of the book

15The book explores three problem areas that emerge from current policy and regulatory developments in Europe:

  • freedom of expression as a regulatory rationale is being reaffirmed within its growing recognition as a positive right (the citizen’s right to be fully and impartially informed), at the same time the full exercise of this right, and communication rights more generally, need a new democratic regulatory framework to be set up at the European level;

  • two principal media regulatory instruments at the European level—the TVWF directive (now AVMS directive) and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television—have recently undergone far-reaching modernization, extending regulation to new media services;

  • media pluralism remains an important value and objective of European media policy, but there has been a lack of consensus and will to apply a harmonized regulatory mechanism to protect media diversity at the EU level.

16These issues can be approached in a number of ways, and the book provides a place for exploring them one by one. Focusing on media policy rationales and models, the first section sets a conceptual framework for the whole volume. In the first chapter, Hannu Nieminen argues that the commercial logic followed in the European media and communication regulatory policies clashes with the aim of opening up and strengthening the European public sphere. Nieminen calls for a redefinition of the basis of the EU media and communication policies and establishing a democratic regulatory framework built on the concept of citizens’ communication rights. Such a consistent all-European policy model would help the public sphere coalesce. Nieminen believes that ideas of deliberative democracy are not only theoretical but can also be applied in more policy-oriented ways. The new democratic regulatory framework is to be developed through a systematic approach, based on a value-chain model of analysis of media production. Crucial decisions affecting the media performance outcomes are made in all preceding stages of the media production process. These have to be examined against their resonance with democratic communication rights—namely, rights to information, to orientation, to social and cultural communality, and to self-expression.

17Miyase Christensen provides an overview of European information society policies leaning, according to her, toward regulation favoring the interests of businesses and markets over publics and citizens. Christensen emphasizes, that especially the European Commission’s approach to questions of media pluralism and freedom of expression in the field of information society, is marked more by caution than vigor. Creation of “a single European information space” is stimulated by market-oriented mechanisms, while convergence between media/communications policies and competition policies motivates national governments to prioritize the latter rather than safeguard a public interest approach to the former. Christensen warns against the hope that the multiplicity of actors will amount to diversity and plurality of voices, as it can become a negative attribute of media freedom and pluralism. In the Eu, the coexistence of a competitive single market with public interest concerns and priorities calls not only for an effective convergence of technological infrastructures and regulatory policies, but also for a convergence of minds across the region around common normative grounds.

18Halliki Harro-loit paints a media policy paradigm shift from a media literacy perspective. She points out that the modern information environment requires different communicative competences from media users linked to the individual’s ability to seek, choose, process, analyze, and evaluate information he or she needs. Harro-loit incorporates van Cuilenburg and MacQuail’s (2003) integrated communications policy model into a new model of her own, enriched by educational domain and placing a citizen into its central position. Harro-loit observes that the necessary policy tools and strategies for integrating communications policy and education policy are at place at the EU level, but implementation requires better attunement and thus synergy-building with national institutions. The task of the integrated policy model is to recognize factors and players in different domains that support each other.

19The second section of the book focuses on content and service-related regulation. The main rationale behind the far-reaching modernization of the AVMS directive was the harmonization and simplification of rules applicable to “traditional” (linear) television broadcasting and introducing part of the rules applicable to non-linear services. The most salient questions raised by the debate on the changing regulatory model (from regulation of TV broadcasting to regulation of audiovisual media services) revolve around dilemmas and controversies of ex ante regulation, regulation of services and content on the internet, national implementation of the European quota, and child- and humandignity-protection rules. The authors in this section demonstrate polarized arguments about content and service-related regulation across different platforms and critically evaluate current policy outcomes in this area.

20In the fourth chapter, Éva Simon examines how the audiovisual Media services directive handles new technological innovations. In particular, she is sensitive to challenges of implementation and specificity of conditions in east and Central European media markets. Simon warns of overregulation stemming from a variety of collective goals (such as political pluralism, the need to improve the quality of democratic life, and only secondarily a private business) expected to be performed by media institutions. She highlights difficulties with ex ante regulation that can easily become an obstacle to development, since it tries to regulate unknown or rapidly changing phenomena. Well-established ex ante regulation, according to Simon, is possible only in a very limited sphere, as it should create a clear, transparent, and unambiguous situation. But even key terms in the aVMs directive are open to multiple interpretations: differences between linear, on-demand, and information society services are not clear, and might never be in fast changing new media environments. Éva Simon’s work also points to specificities of Central and east European media landscapes, which will affect implementation of the AVMS directive. Thus the potential of non-linear services to replace linear services is smaller in the Central and east European countries, as new Member states are remarkably backward in broadband internet usage compared to Western EU counterparts. The directive also encourages the use of co-regulation and self-regulation, but these mechanisms have been far less developed in new east European Member states.

21Péter Molnár suggests a radical critique of content and service-related regulation contradicting, in his view, the fundamental principle of freedom of speech. A key argument put forward by Molnár is that the risks of abuse-content and service-related regulation are higher than the benefits and cannot be balanced by justifications of protecting “core societal values.” Moreover, content regulation can constrain freedom of speech, especially in less developed democracies. Péter Molnár is an enthusiastic believer in the potential of free exchange of unregulated content. He considers the extension of the scope of the EU’s Television without Frontiers directive into the audiovisual Media services (AVMS) directive unnecessary and insufficiently supported by general or media-specific justifications. Molnár’s views are strongly inspired by American tradition and transatlantic debate. He notices some historical commonalities between the United States and Hungary and parallels U.S. constitutional practice with the Hungarian case.

22In a different vein, andrej Školkay explores developments and abuses of freedom of expression in the blogosphere, thus identifying new regulatory challenges to public communication. Školkay argues that, in particular, the area of anonymous communication and commentaries should be subject to some form of regulation, preferably self-regulation. Školkay describes serious problem areas on the rise: violence promoted by words, ethnic and religious hate speech on the internet, promotion of pathological passions, and infringement of personal honor and dignity, as well as the low quality of public discourse. These have already prompted the design of some self-regulatory mechanisms and different national policy responses, but Školkay sees little chance that this truly borderless communication will be regulated at the EU or international regulatory level.

23Václav Štetka offers a critical account of European quota policy, once backed by a normative goal of stimulating the role of the media as agents of integration by content-related regulation (especially protection of European works) and several grant programs. Štetka argues that the rhetoric of European audiovisual policy has moved away from concentrating on the role of broadcasting media in representing shared European culture and nurturing common European identity, towards emphasizing their importance for preserving the unique character of various European cultures and thereby for promoting European “cultural diversity.” Štetka observes that the modernized AVMS directive builds upon the very same principles as its predecessor (TVWF directive) in the area of “cultural provisions,” largely allowing the conceptualization of cultural diversity in national terms and retreating from attempts to challenge the national viewing habits. Likewise, neither directives ensure that the national television audiences across Europe will have more opportunities to confront their own lifestyles and collective imageries—portrayed on their screens—with those from their fellow European countries. Štetka empirically demonstrates the lack of “true diversity” (in country of origin as well as content) on television channels operating in the Czech TV landscape. He shows that in recent years, audiovisual content has been dominated by nationally oriented programming (even if it contains a significant share of local versions of various global TV formats), while the non-national European programming has been more or less silenced.

24In the seventh chapter, Lilia Raycheva pays attention to a relatively neglected issue in media policy scholarship—protection of minors. Raycheva examines current policy and regulatory developments in this area, focusing in particular on harmful and inappropriate TV content. At the European level, she compares the policy frameworks of the Council of Europe and the European Union, analyzing legally nonbinding recommendations as well as two principal legal instruments: the ECTT and the AVMS directive. Raycheva examines specific regulatory practices in the case of Bulgaria and its media regulatory agency, the Bulgarian Council for electronic Media. The current restructuring of media services is one of the key factors contributing to many challenges and unresolved regulatory dilemmas concerning the protection of children. Raycheva points out that the main deficiencies in this regard generally show through in the lack of technical means for program filtering; programs for special-needs children; programs for children at risk; access of children to the media; quality children’s programs; and media pedagogy. Raycheva advocates a regulatory balance that can be reached by establishing effective rules for conscious use of the media by parents and children and teaching children sustainable values, which will block out any attempt at encroachment on their psychological and physical health.

25The third section of the book is devoted to structural regulation, media pluralism, concentration of media ownership, and external diversity of services. The concepts of media pluralism and diversity enjoy widespread recognition for their values reinforcing and facilitating democratic and participatory communication. The continuing trend towards concentration and multimedia linkups, resulting in the recycling of content and services, has become a concern for the European Parliament, which has repeatedly addressed the issue since the beginning of the 1980s. The Council of Europe has also played a crucial role in setting up common standards on media pluralism, principally through a vast number of resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Parliamentary assembly and the Committee of Ministers, as well as reports prepared by its advisory bodies and committees of experts. Repeated efforts of the European Commission to design harmonized regulatory mechanisms at the European level have, however, met difficulties of fragmented and irreconcilable interests, national preferences, and lack of consensus between the various parties involved. Recently the European Commission reoriented its regulatory focus towards a softer monitoring instrument (described in a staff working document, Media Pluralism in the Member States of the European Union). a more sophisticated risk-based monitoring mechanism, including such areas as policies and legal instruments that support pluralism in Member states, the range of media available to citizens in different Member states, and supply-side indicators on the economics of the media, will generate necessary assessment and data that could be used for more substantial policy change and the initiation of new solutions. The authors of the chapters in this section scrutinize issues that cut across the institutional dimension of structural regulation (e.g. the special status of public service media, functions of commercial television, and the role of community media) as well as measurement and normative considerations.

26Péter Bajomi-lázár argues that broadcasting regulation in Europe, as a general rule, gives primacy to public service broadcasting; even the regulation of commercial television is rooted in a normative perspective that is based upon the public service broadcasting ethos. according to Bajomi-Lázár, the fact that some researchers approach commercial broadcasters from the public service broadcasting ethos (that is, they are expected to deliver morality, good taste, and knowledge to the homes of viewers), rather than analyzing them on their own terms, may seriously hinder the understanding of how they operate and, consequently, their functions in social communications. Bajomi-lázár contrasts ancient media with “neomedia,” offering not a one-way and downward flow of information but two-way and interactive communication that provides those “down” with the opportunity to take positions of resistance, participation, and control. in this vein, Bajomi-lázár rejects arguments for the restrictive regulation of commercial television, particularly instruments placing public service tasks upon commercial media outlets.

27Karol Jakubowicz explores the new functions and conceptualization of public service media in information societies. Several models of the emergence of public service broadcasting are sketched in this respect to demonstrate the growing association of public service media with democracy and civil society. Jakubowicz shares concerns about the skepticism of various actors concerning the future prospects of public service media in a new and rapidly growing media environment, where rationales for maintaining PSM are increasingly questioned. Jakubowicz argues that ideology will probably most strongly affect future chances of PSM survival, or public service provision via the electronic media. This is because the political will to advance the public interest in social life via PSM performance depends primarily on the ideological orientation of policymakers. Jakubowicz calls for a reconstruction of PSM into a platform for open societal communication signaling a radical departure from the traditional model of paternalistic top-down communication. After all, it is up to public service media themselves to understand how much the public interest and the needs of citizens have changed over time, and to reinvent themselves to serve new expectations and needs.

28Mihály Gálik focuses on the changes in regulatory processes over the last ten to fifteen years and summarizes the conflicting concepts and interests in efforts to regulate media concentration at a common European level. Although, according to Gálik, the need for common regulation on media concentration is not questioned openly in the European Union, direct sector-specific regulatory tools are not applied at the Community level. at the same time, because media goods and services are as much cultural/political goods as they are economic goods, it makes sense to differentiate between conceptualizing, and thus also regulating, concentration in the media economic market, and concentration in the political and/or cultural market (in the “marketplace of ideas”). Gálik sees “a real need” to abandon the methods applied in regulating media concentration in the past, but he also observes that Member states are reluctant to give up their own regulatory power on media concentration for political reasons. Moreover, despite declarations on the vital importance of public service broadcasting in preserving media pluralism, EU and Coe Member states alike seem to have retained their present regulatory powers in this field, too.

29Gianpietro Mazzoleni and Fausto Colombo’s chapter explores the multidimensional prospects of the governance shaping a European audiovisual landscape. The authors are critical of the EU “free-market model” policies that regard the medium only in economic and technological terms. Such regulation fails to understand the media as an integral part of a complex system framed not only by technological and economic, but also cultural and institutional regulatory dimensions. Mazzoleni and Colombo advocate the balance of a system guaranteed by regulated competition, based on the one hand on the public control of universal access to and service of infrastructures, and on the other, on the existing anti-trust and freedom-of-information laws and norms. The authors are convinced that repeated policy discussions generated a widely shared agreement in favor of a Europe-wide harmonization of the normative framework that would support the infrastructure and media content strengthening the European culture without obstructing the development of local cultures.

30Zrinjka Peruško closely examines the ample body of research and policy-oriented studies testing an evidence of the relationship between concentration of media ownership and diversity of media content. Peruško argues that the relationship itself should be thought as multileveled and complex, with many more gray areas in systematic research than clearly defined ones. Two options are considered for possible research trajectories: To examine whether media concentration causes diminished diversity and pluralism of media output (causal relationship), and to see whether media concentration and low diversity and pluralism in media content occur at the same time and in the same market (correlation). Neither of these, however, would bring deep understanding to a problem that should be perceived as a process and not limited to a given point in time. Instead, Peruško proposes to develop a metrics approach that would demonstrate trends and developments in the market shape and analyze the level and type of content diversity over time. such an approach should be backed by a policy rationale of continued quality in media programs, defined as pluralism, diversity, and public interest content, and should be constantly promoted and assured by European and national media policies.

31Kate Coyer and Arne Hintz scrutinize an unbreakable link that has been established between community media as institutions and an important element of media landscapes, and communicative rights, including the ability to create one’s own media independent of government or commercial pressures. As such, community media provide necessary functions, bolstering media pluralism and structural diversity. Coyer and Hintz observe that the European policy agenda increasingly recognizes the role of these media. The Council of Europe and the European Parliament, in particular, initiated debates on how to develop enabling regulatory frameworks. However, the policy environment for community media in Europe remains sketchy and inconsistent. Although some countries have developed promising regulations as well as a sophisticated understanding of the policy needs for sustainable community media, others continue to disregard community media’s very existence. Coyer and Hintz assert that, for a truly pluralistic media environment to flourish, debates over the future of the dramatically changing media environment must include the needs and interests of local communities and small-scale, not-for-profit media. Moreover, community media deserve recognition in law as a distinct type of media. They should thus be supported and encouraged through specific licensing arrangements that guarantee access to the spectrum and different platforms of distribution, as well as to economic resources that can foster sustainability.

32Taken together, the perspectives and arguments presented in this volume paint a diverse picture of regulatory challenges connected to the fast-changing media environment in the enlarged Europe. Despite this diversity, common concerns can be identified: The key argument emerging from reflections on supra-national and national regulatory approaches seems to be for more recognition of the democratic nature of communication rights. Highly complex media policy patterns and trends of functional convergence, institutional interdependence, and complementarity, combined with a restrictive mandate of EU institutions based on the EC Treaty (Ward, 2008), have conditioned relatively asymmetric policy in media and communication. Nevertheless, a challenge of democratic legitimacy and the need to guarantee functions performed by media in democratic systems justifies a sound media policy balance. This is especially true when seen from the perspective of relatively young, and thus also more vulnerable, democracies.


Beata Klimkiewicz is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Journalism and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland. She received her Ph.D. from the institute of Political sciences, Jagiellonian University. She was awarded numerous scholarships including Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European university in Florence and Pew Fellowship at Columbia University. Since 2000, she has been a member of the advisory Panel of experts on Freedom of Religion and Belief for OSCE. She provided an expertise for the European Parliament and Council of Europe and has been involved in numerous research and policy studies, including projects commissioned by the EU agency for Fundamental Rights and European Commission. Since 2006, she has been a member of the steering Committee of COST Action A30 East of West: Setting a New Central and Eastern European Media Research Agenda. Recent research interests include media pluralism and diversity, media policy in Europe, media reform in Central Europe, media representations of minorities and minority media. She published two books and numerous articles and book chapters. E-mail:

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