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Declaration of the Group of the European regulators of the services of audio-visual mediums (ERGA) on the need for guaranteeing the independence of the media

Official statement of the Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The whole of the Member States of the European Union began to respect the stipulations of the European Convention of safeguard of the human rights and the provisions of the Charter of the basic rights of the EU relating to freedom and pluralism in the mediums. Any ignorance of these principles would indeed be likely to attack the independence of the media. The independence of the media constitutes the cornerstone of our European democracies, making it possible to the citizens to forge their own opinions, without being subject to the influence of a third party, including State.


On January 7th, 2016, a new relative law with the media of public service is coming into effect in Poland; this law introduces new measurements depriving the national and independent audio-visual regulatory authority, KRRiT, of the power to name and revoke the boards of directors and of monitoring of the operators of the public service, this faculty being transferred to the Minister of Finances. The new law puts also fine at the mandates members of the current direction and supervisory board of these organizations, with immediate effect. From now on, the members of the new direction and the supervisory board of the audio-visual public agencies will thus be named by the Minister of Finances, without any obligation to ensure a plurality of the representation. The law does not specify any more the duration of these mandates and the members could be revoked constantly and at the discretion of minister.

These recent events, as well as the intentions expressed by the Polish government to influence the programming of the media of public service, raise important questions concerning the protection of the independence of the media within the European Union. This situation shows clearly that this independence cannot be held for acquired in Europe and requires a constant attention on behalf of the institutions concerned.

The European Group of the regulators of services of audio-visual mediums recalls that in 2015, it adopted a declaration stressing the importance of the role of the audio-visual mediums in the warranty of freedom of expression, the promotion of freedom of movement of information and the ideas, the formation of the opinions and the support and the reinforcement of the democracy [1]. So that this role is fully assured, the ERGA stresses the importance to implement procedures of nomination and revocation open and not well-wishers for the stations - keys of the audio-visual mediums.

The requirement to have independent media has as a corollary the need for implementing an independent regulation, in order to protect the media from any unjustified pressure on behalf of public or private actors. In the declaration adopted in October 2014 [2], like in his recent report on the independence of the regulators of audio-visual mediums [3], the ERGA recommends that the revision to come from the directive on the services of audio-visual mediums envisages the reinforcement of the provisions ensuring independence of the national authorities of regulation, as means of protection of our free societies and opened. The recent events which proceeded in Poland make only accentuate the importance of this recommendation.

The ERGA invites all the Member States of the European Union to act to defend the principle of the independence of the media in all the Member States of the EU. The ERGA greets the measures already adopted by the European Commission. The group encourages it moreover to supervise the evolution of the situation and invites it to take all the necessary measures with the safeguard of the independence of the media, including firm decisions against the attack carried to the institutional devices guaranteeing this independence.





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