Media pluralism requires as much protection in the digital environment as in the traditional offline media environment, warns the new Study on Media Plurality and Diversity Online, published by the European Commission on the same day of the European Media Freedom Act reveal.
“The Study lays the groundwork for future research and policy action on media pluralism that goes beyond the Digital Package and even the European Media Freedom Act,” said Pier Luigi Parcu, Director of the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom.
The Study, financed with a tender by the European Commission in 2021, gathered four academic partners with a solid track record of scientific research on media pluralism: the Centre for Information Technology and Intellectual Property of KU Leuven, the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (Studies in Media, Innovation and Technology), under the leadership of the Centre of Media Pluralism and Media Freedom of the European University Institute.
For the purpose of this research, the authors adopt a new definition of media which distinguishes media actors from other actors in the media ecosystem which contribute to the functioning or accessing of media but do not, or should not, exercise editorial control and are thus not to be considered media.
In addition, the Study fulfilled two main objectives. In the first part, the authors aim to assess the extent to which European media are able to cater for pluralistic opinions and viewpoints online. To do so, they mapped the existing measures regulating the prominence and discoverability of content online and assessed their effectiveness; based on the research results, they then propose a series of policy options and recommendations.
The second part of the study focuses on market plurality and concentration of economic resources, with the aim of understanding the existence and effectiveness of measures regarding, for example, ownership transparency, capital controls, audience and market measurement, and media mergers in the EU Member States. Based on the extensive mapping of measures concerning media concentration and the assessment of their effectiveness, the Study showed that online media remain outside of the scope of media concentration rules.
The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom contributed to the Study with the data collected through the implementation of its core project, the Media Pluralism Monitor.
“Our mission is to provide high-quality scientific research that can contribute to sound, evidence-based policymaking,” said prof Parcu. “For this reason, we are pleased and honoured that our Media Pluralism Monitor has become the benchmark for assessing the status of media pluralism in Europe. From providing research data to this Study and informing the annual Rule of Law Report and the European Media Freedom Act, the Media Pluralism Monitor has proved its value as a source of independent, first-rate research.”
The Study on Media Plurality and Diversity Online is available on the EU’s publication office website.