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IRIS 2012-8:1/8

European Commission

Support for Reforms in Public Broadcasting Stepped Up

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Tobias Raab

Institute of European Media Law (EMR), Saarbrücken/Brussels

The European Commission and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) want to establish closer cooperation in assisting the reform of public broadcasters in countries that aspire to join the EU. This was agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and EBU President Jean-Paul Philippot. The reforms are designed, on the one hand, to secure the financial sustainability of public broadcasters, and on the other, to protect them from undue political pressure as well as to bring them up to professional standards in terms of technologies and management. Media pluralism and freedom are particularly important EU accession criteria.

The Memorandum of Understanding will structure the cooperation between the EU and the EBU over a longer period, giving sufficient time for the reforms to take effect. It was a result of the 2011 Speak Up! Conference, which was devoted to media freedom in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Progress in this area will be reviewed in 2013, as a follow-up to this conference.

Commissioner Füge stressed that the EU enlargement process was principally about helping the aspirant countries to develop and reach European standards. In the broadcasting sector, the EBU was an outstanding partner thanks to its expertise and experience. He also promised to support the EBU’s work in the European Neighbourhood regions whose national broadcasters were also EBU members. It was in the Commission’s interests to cooperate more closely with the EBU in these regions.

EU steps up support to reforms in public broadcasting, MEMO/12/598, 24 July 2012 EN