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IRIS 2010-7:1/2

Committee of Ministers

Reply to PACE Recommendation on PSB Funding

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Tarlach McGonagle

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 21 April 2010, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted its Reply to Recommendation 1878 (2009) of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), entitled, “The funding of public service broadcasting” (see IRIS 2009-8:4/3). The Comments of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) are appended to the Committee of Ministers’ Reply.

Both the Committee of Ministers and the CDMC welcome the PACE Recommendation for its timeliness and its usefulness. The Committee of Ministers (following the CDMC) “notes in particular the Assembly’s recognition of the need for public service broadcasters to make full use of all the technologies and platforms currently available and those of the future in order to provide high quality programming to the widest audience possible”.

The Committee of Ministers refers to its own replies to earlier PACE Recommendations with similar focuses, before noting that “follow-up action or future review of developments in the funding of public service broadcasters is very important”. The PACE had recommended that the European Audiovisual Observatory should be asked to collect relevant information. It also commends (following the CDMC), “The Public Service Remit and the New Media” (IRIS plus 2009-6). It then notes the relevance of ongoing work at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and of the European Convention for the Protection of the Audiovisual Heritage (ETS No. 183, entry into force: 1 January 2008).

The Committee of Ministers’ Reply clearly tracks the comments it received from the CDMC. Those comments are, however, more detailed than the Committee of Ministers’ Reply; they engage with specific focuses and formulae of the PACE Recommendation to a greater extent. They also seek to situate the Recommendation in the context of the Committee of Ministers’ relevant standard-setting work, the Action Plan adopted at the first Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and New Communications Services in 2009 (see IRIS 2009-8:3/2) and ongoing work within the CDMC.

Based on Recommendation Rec(2007)3 of the Committee of Ministers on the remit of public service media in the information society (see IRIS 2007-3:5/5), the CDMC “considers that public value in respect of public service broadcasters or more broadly public media services can only be assessed if they are considered as an integral whole, rather than as discrete and disconnected features of public service”. It continues: “More particularly, public service media cannot be confined to a subsidiary role, characterised by offering services that do not feature highly on the agendas of commercial broadcasters”.

Reply to “The funding of public service broadcasting” - Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1878 (2009), Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Doc. CM/AS(2010)Rec1878 final, 23 April 2010 EN