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European Parliament deals blow to powerful commercial media

January 31st, 2013 • The European Parliament’s Committee on Justice and Home Affairs today gave broad support to the official ‘Opinion’ on media services proposed by SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. ‘We need to call an end to the whining of the commercial media about Internet use by publicly owned broadcasting services,’ says De Jong. ‘These services have a duty to provide information which shouldn’t be restricted to radio and television. The Internet provides space for background information supplementing the news and for additional programmes. The European Parliament has today created clear space for public broadcasting services.’

The official Opinion adopted by the Committee in today’s vote represents the European Parliament’s reaction to the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on Audiovisual Media Services. In addition to support for public broadcasters’ right to provide online services, the Parliament has asked the Commission to launch an enquiry into the concentration of media power in ever fewer hands, as De Jong explains. ‘The EU doesn’t concern itself with the quality of the media but does have powers when it comes to rules governing competition. With the existing lack of transparency in relation to the range of providers where media barons such as Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Rupert Murdoch in the UK own huge slices of the media, it can’t be guaranteed that people will be given information which is objective and accurate. For this reason it’s high time that the European Commission conducted an enquiry into the concentration of ownership of commercial television and radio.’

The European Parliament also wants to see better surveillance of the rules governing television advertising. The report therefore states that media corporations should appoint a supervisor to oversee adherence to advertising regulations protecting children. ‘European advertising rules to protect children are already quite demanding on paper but in practice they clearly aren’t being followed,’ says De Jong. ‘The Parliament wants to see immediate action on this by media corporations. In addition, we want to see enforcement at last of the maximum of twelve minutes of advertising per hour of television and, should it turn out that viewers already believe this to be too much, a further lowering of the limit.’

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