The state government of Rhineland-Palatinate questions the independence of the German PSB broadcaster ‘Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen’

Credits: ax2groin/Creative Commons

The MEDIADEM project aims at combining a strong academic direction with a policy development orientation. It aspires to produce expert scientific results and generate focused, useful and accessible policy-related output. Project partners are centres with a broad range of educational and research activities, and well-networked with the media sector, media policy-makers and civil society. This renders the MEDIADEM consortium particularly well-positioned to achieve the widest possible diffusion of project findings and access to key target groups.

The project is designed in such a way, so as to allow the largest number of potential users to be approached. Target audiences per type of project activities are described in detail below.

Project reports and collective publications

  • The academic community, graduate students and those carrying out research in the media field
  • Non-state actors involved in media policy-making
    – Media professionals and their representative associations
    – Human rights organisations
    – Other civil society organisations (e.g. viewer and listener organisations, citizens’ associations, other pressure groups)

Mediadem Contributions:

–       A collective report, Media policies and regulatory practices in a selected set of European countries, the EU and the Council of Europe

–       A theoretical report, The formation and implementation of national media policies in Europe and their relationship to democratic society and media freedom and independence: A theoretical and analytical frame for the MEDIADEM project

Project policy papers and policy briefs

  • European policy-makers (EU institutions and the Council of Europe)
  • Decision-makers at national level
    – Ministries
    – Independent regulatory bodies and supervisory organs
    – Parliamentarians and parliamentary committees
  • Judicial authorities at national and European level
  • Non-state actors involved in media policy-making
    – Media companies, media professionals and their representative associations
    – Human rights organisations
    – Other civil society organisations

Mediadem Contributions: Shortly

Project events

  • European policy-makers (EU institutions and the Council of Europe)
  • Decision-makers at national level
    – Ministries
    – Independent regulatory bodies and supervisory organs
    – Parliamentarians and parliamentary committees
  • Judicial authorities at national and European level
  • Non-state actors involved in media policy-making
    – Media companies, media professionals and their representative associations
    – Human rights organisations
    – Other civil society organisations
  • The academic community and those carrying out research in the media field

Mediadem Contributions

–       Workshop on the influence of the internet on the media

–       Workshop on ‘European policy for free and independent media systems: Current issues for regulation’

–       Workshop on ‘Media policies: Country practices within the EU media regulatory framework’

Other project material

  • All key target groups

Mediadem Contributions:

–       The MEDIADEM flyer in Bulgarian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Romanian, Slovakian, Spanish and Turkish

–       A detailed MEDIADEM brochure in English

–       News for the media

–       Views and commentary

EU institutions

European Commission (EN)
Directorate General Information Society and the Media (EN)
Directorate General Competition (EN)
Audiovisual and Media Policies (EN)
Media Task Force (EN)
European Council (EN), Formation: (EN)
European Court of Justice (EN)
European Parliament (EN), (EN)

Council of Europe

Council of Europe (EN), Media and Information Society Division (EN)
Commissioner for Human Rights (EN)
Committee of Ministers (EN)
European Court of Human Rights (EN)
Parliamentary Assembly (EN)
The European Audiovisual Observatory (EN, FR, DE)

Other multilateral fora

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (EN),
Representative on Freedom of the Media (EN)

Media associations

Association of Commercial Television (EN)
Association of European Radios (EN)
Association of European Journalists (EN)
Community Media Forum Europe (EN)
European Broadcasting Union (EN)
European Digital Media Association (EN)
European Federation of Journalists (EN, FR)
European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (EN)
European Publishers Council (EN)
European Federation of Magazine Publishers (EN)

Research

Seventh Research Framework Programme (EN)
Research – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (EN)
European Communication Research and Education Association (EN)
European Journalism Observatory (EN, IT, DE)
Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT) (EN)
Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (MDCEE) (EN)
Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (EN)
Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics, UNESCO/European Commission (EN)

Other initiatives

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (EN, ICE)
EU institutions

European Commission (EN)
Directorate General Information Society and the Media (EN)
Directorate General Competition (EN)
Audiovisual and Media Policies (EN)
Media Task Force (EN)
European Council (EN), Formation: Education, Youth and Culture (EN)
European Court of Justice (EN)
European Parliament (EN), Culture and Education Committee (EN)

Council of Europe

Council of Europe (EN), Media and Information Society Division (EN)
Commissioner for Human Rights (EN)
Committee of Ministers (EN)
European Court of Human Rights (EN)
Parliamentary Assembly (EN)
The European Audiovisual Observatory (EN, FR, DE)

Other multilateral fora

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (EN),
Representative on Freedom of the Media (EN)

Media associations

Association of Commercial Television (EN)
Association of European Radios (EN)
Association of European Journalists (EN)
Community Media Forum Europe (EN)
European Broadcasting Union (EN)
European Digital Media Association (EN)
European Federation of Journalists (EN, FR)
European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (EN)
European Publishers Council (EN)
European Federation of Magazine Publishers (EN)

Research

Seventh Research Framework Programme (EN)
Research – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (EN)
European Communication Research and Education Association (EN)
European Journalism Observatory (EN, IT, DE)
Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT) (EN)
Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (MDCEE) (EN)
Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (EN)
Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics, UNESCO/European Commission (EN)
Indicators for Independence and Efficient Functioning of AVMS Regulatory Bodies (INIREG) (EN)

Other initiatives

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (EN, ICE)
EU institutions

European Commission (EN)
Directorate General Information Society and the Media (EN)
Directorate General Competition (EN)
Audiovisual and Media Policies (EN)
Media Task Force (EN)
European Council (EN), (EN)
European Court of Justice (EN)
European Parliament (EN), (EN)

Council of Europe

Council of Europe (EN), Media and Information Society Division (EN)
Commissioner for Human Rights (EN)
Committee of Ministers (EN)
European Court of Human Rights (EN)
Parliamentary Assembly (EN)
The European Audiovisual Observatory (EN, FR, DE)

Other multilateral fora

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (EN),
Representative on Freedom of the Media (EN)

Media associations

Association of Commercial Television (EN)
Association of European Radios (EN)
Association of European Journalists (EN)
Community Media Forum Europe (EN)
European Broadcasting Union (EN)
European Digital Media Association (EN)
European Federation of Journalists (EN, FR)
European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (EN)
European Publishers Council (EN)
European Federation of Magazine Publishers (EN)

Research

Seventh Research Framework Programme (EN)
Research – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (EN)
European Communication Research and Education Association (EN)
European Journalism Observatory (EN, IT, DE)
Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT) (EN)
Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (MDCEE) (EN)
Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (EN)
Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics, UNESCO/European Commission (EN)
Indicators for Independence and Efficient Functioning of AVMS Regulatory Bodies (INIREG) (EN)

Other initiatives

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (EN, ICE)

On 29 November 2010, (EN)
Directorate General Information Society and the Media (EN)
Directorate General Competition (EN)
Audiovisual and Media Policies (EN)
Media Task Force (EN)
European Council (EN), (EN)
European Court of Justice (EN)
European Parliament (EN), (EN)

Council of Europe

Council of Europe (EN), Media and Information Society Division (EN)
Commissioner for Human Rights (EN)
Committee of Ministers (EN)
European Court of Human Rights (EN)
Parliamentary Assembly (EN)
The European Audiovisual Observatory (EN, FR, DE)

Other multilateral fora

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (EN),
Representative on Freedom of the Media (EN)

Media associations

Association of Commercial Television (EN)
Association of European Radios (EN)
Association of European Journalists (EN)
Community Media Forum Europe (EN)
European Broadcasting Union (EN)
European Digital Media Association (EN)
European Federation of Journalists (EN, FR)
European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (EN)
European Publishers Council (EN)
European Federation of Magazine Publishers (EN)

Research

Seventh Research Framework Programme (EN)
Research – Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (EN)
European Communication Research and Education Association (EN)
European Journalism Observatory (EN, IT, DE)
Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe (MediaAcT) (EN)
Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (MDCEE) (EN)
Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (EN)
Professional Journalistic Standards and Code of Ethics, UNESCO/European Commission (EN)
Indicators for Independence and Efficient Functioning of AVMS Regulatory Bodies (INDIREG) (EN)

Other initiatives

Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (EN, ICE)

On 29 November 2010, the Perelman Centre for Legal Philosophy and the Institute for European Studies of the Free University of Brussels (ULB) organised a conference on the influence of the internet on the media. The conference started with a brief welcome and introduction by Benoît Frydman, professor at the ULB. Bart Van Besien, research fellow at the same university, informed the public on the scope of the Mediadem project and its aim of mapping the influences of various media policies on the development of free and independent media in Europe. Pierre-François Docquir, post-doctoral researcher at the ULB, discussed the challenges for freedom of expression in the digitalised media environment. Damien Van Achter, Social Media Manager at the Belgian French-language public broadcaster RTBF, illustrated how social media such as Facebook and Twitter shake up the existing media landscapes. Amandine Degand, researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), presented the results of a recent research project on the impact of the internet on the communication of information and on the working conditions of journalists. Finally, Jacques Englebert, professor at the ULB, analysed the legal ramifications of an all-encompassing digitalisation trend in communications law.

A lively discussion followed between the speakers and the public. Participants exchanged views and opinions on issues such as the importance of developing new business models and new working practices for the media players, the challenges posed to the existing media outlets by the new media and their influence on the pluralistic character of the media sector. The organisers of the conference thanked François Heinderyckx, professor at the ULB, for leading the discussion, and the members of the panel and the public for their invaluable input.  The organisers furthermore confirmed their intention to organise similar conferences on related topics on a recurring basis, as it was expressly asked by various members of the public,

For more information on the conference, you may contact Pierre-François Docquir.

A detailed report on the workshop by the Association of French-language Journalists in Belgium (in French) can be found here.

Cristian Ghinea, [The state, the moguls and the journalists], and provides an overview of the conclusions of the Romanian background report. In this article, the author explains that the main problem regarding the media in Romania is the concentration of media ownership in the hands of several persons who use the media as a means to exercise political control. Clear-cut rules for media cross-ownership and improved enforcement of existing laws could offer a solution to this problem. However, Romanian journalists are deeply distrustful of state institutions and politicians that could provide such a solution.

The second article, ‘Regretindu-i pe proprietarii straini de presa. Sau nu’ [Regretting media foreign ownership or not], was published in the weekly magazine Dilema veche. On the basis of Mediadem’s background country reports, the author analyses the presence of foreign capital in the media industry of several Mediadem countries. The former communist countries did not have special laws against foreign capital in the media. Thus, as a general tendency, foreign media ownership is more present in Eastern Europe than it is in Western European democracies or in Turkey. In Romania, however, a reversing trend has occurred over the last years: foreign companies exit the media market, accusing the government of unfair practices by local media powerful operators.

Cristian Ghinea, who forms part of Mediadem’s Romanian research team [LINK], has published two articles in the Romanian press, reporting on the first findings of the project. The first one was published in the daily newspaper Romania libera. It is entitled ‘Statul, mogulii ?i jurnali?tii’ [The state, the moguls and the journalists], and provides an overview of the conclusions of the Romanian background report. In this article, the author explains that the main problem regarding the media in Romania is the concentration of media ownership in the hands of several persons who use the media as a means to exercise political control. Clear-cut rules for media cross-ownership and improved enforcement of existing laws could offer a solution to this problem. However, Romanian journalists are deeply distrustful of state institutions and politicians that could provide such a solution.

The second article, ‘Regretindu-i pe proprietarii straini de presa. Sau nu’ [Regretting media foreign ownership or not] [], was published in the weekly magazine Dilema veche. On the basis of Mediadem’s background country reports (LINK TO THE COLLECTIVE BIR), the author analyses the presence of foreign capital in the media industry of several Mediadem countries. The former communist countries did not have special laws against foreign capital in the media. Thus, as a general tendency, foreign media ownership is more present in Eastern Europe than it is in Western European democracies or in Turkey. In Romania, however, a reversing trend has occurred over the last years: foreign companies exit the media market, accusing the government of unfair practices by local media powerful operators.

Brief description of the legal entity

The Hertie School of Governance (HERTIE) is one of the German professional schools of public policy. It was founded in 2003 and has since developed an important presence in research and higher education. In February 2005, [The state, the moguls and the journalists], and provides an overview of the conclusions of the Romanian background report. In this article, the author explains that the main problem regarding the media in Romania is the concentration of media ownership in the hands of several persons who use the media as a means to exercise political control. Clear-cut rules for media cross-ownership and improved enforcement of existing laws could offer a solution to this problem. However, Romanian journalists are deeply distrustful of state institutions and politicians that could provide such a solution.

The second article, ‘Regretindu-i pe proprietarii straini de presa. Sau nu’ [Regretting media foreign ownership or not], was published in the weekly magazine Dilema veche. On the basis of Mediadem’s background country reports, the author analyses the presence of foreign capital in the media industry of several Mediadem countries. The former communist countries did not have special laws against foreign capital in the media. Thus, as a general tendency, foreign media ownership is more present in Eastern Europe than it is in Western European democracies or in Turkey. In Romania, however, a reversing trend has occurred over the last years: foreign companies exit the media market, accusing the government of unfair practices by local media powerful operators.

Cristian Ghinea, [The state, the moguls and the journalists], and provides an overview of the conclusions of the Romanian background report. In this article, the author explains that the main problem regarding the media in Romania is the concentration of media ownership in the hands of several persons who use the media as a means to exercise political control. Clear-cut rules for media cross-ownership and improved enforcement of existing laws could offer a solution to this problem. However, Romanian journalists are deeply distrustful of state institutions and politicians that could provide such a solution.

The second article, ‘Regretindu-i pe proprietarii straini de presa. Sau nu’ [Regretting media foreign ownership or not], was published in the weekly magazine Dilema veche. On the basis of Mediadem’s background country reports, the author analyses the presence of foreign capital in the media industry of several Mediadem countries. The former communist countries did not have special laws against foreign capital in the media. Thus, as a general tendency, foreign media ownership is more present in Eastern Europe than it is in Western European democracies or in Turkey. In Romania, however, a reversing trend has occurred over the last years: foreign companies exit the media market, accusing the government of unfair practices by local media powerful operators.

Cristian Ghinea, [Regretting media foreign ownership or not], was published in the weekly magazine Dilema veche. On the basis of Mediadem’s background country reports, the author analyses the presence of foreign capital in the media industry of several Mediadem countries. The former communist countries did not have special laws against foreign capital in the media. Thus, as a general tendency, foreign media ownership is more present in Eastern Europe than it is in Western European democracies or in Turkey. In Romania, however, a reversing trend has occurred over the last years: foreign companies exit the media market, accusing the government of unfair practices by local media powerful operators.

Credits: .reid/ Creative Commons

?he government of Rhineland-Palatinate lodged by the end of December 2010 an application with the German Federal Constitutional Court to scrutinise the constitutionality of the governing structure of the public service broadcaster (PSB) ‘Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen’ (ZDF). ZDF operates nationwide and is one of the most important TV channels in the country. The government of Rhineland-Palatinate in its application contests the composition of ZDF’s Television Council and Administrative Council. It argues that state representatives in both bodies have an undue influence on the operator.

The main governing bodies of the German PSBs are the Broadcasting Councils (for ZDF, the Television Council), the Administrative Councils and the Director. In principle, PSBs shall be free of undue state influence. As it is said by the Federal Constitutional Court, the state is responsible to establish the legal framework for a functioning PSB, while at the same time the state has to refrain from steering it. This is rooted in the developments that followed the end of World War II, when the Allied Forces espoused the idea of establishing a broadcasting system that would be independent from the state. At the core of such a system lies the assumption that the control of public service broadcasting should principally be in the hands of representative social groups. State legislation created a public service broadcasting system in which broadcasting organisations operate with internal co-regulation bodies: the Broadcasting Council and the Administrative Council. The majority of the members of the Broadcasting Councils are generally representatives of the different societal groups of Germany. The composition of the Broadcasting Councils aims to ensure a plurality of opinions as well as independence from the state. It also ensures the representation of the interests of the society at large.

The Director is responsible for PSBs’ daily work and programmes, while the Broadcasting Council elects the Director, adopts basic programme guidelines and controls whether the PSB adheres to statutory law. The Administrative Council is mainly responsible for the supervision of the financial activities of the PSB. Given the discretionary powers that the governing bodies enjoy, state representatives and political parties are interested in forming part of them. In general, the societal groups hold the majority in the Councils, but state representatives and political parties in particular, are generally not excluded from them.

The Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that broadcasting must not be subject to the influence of one single societal group or the state. However, no strict constitutional interpretation exists as to the exact quorum of state representatives in the governing bodies. It is estimated that participation of more than one third of government representatives may have a negative effect on the operator in terms of undue influence on the programmes or on the senior positions and can be thus deemed unconstitutional. Currently, 34 of the 77 members of the ZDF Television Council are representatives of governments, political parties, or of community structures (i.e. cities). In other words, 44% of the Council are state representatives. Furthermore, most of the societal representatives that participate in the Television Council are not delegated by the societal groups independently, but are instead appointed by the heads of the state governments. ZDF’s Administrative Council is composed of 14 members, 6 of which are state representatives.

The aforementioned composition of both ZDF’s governing bodies has created problems. According to the ZDF-Interstate Treaty, the Administrative Council has to participate in all procedures concerning the taking of decisions on important issues, such as the election of the senior programme manager or the chief editor. Appointments to these senior journalistic positions require the consent of the Administrative Council on proposal of the Director.  Recently, the Administrative Council of ZDF decided against the re-election of the former chief editor of ZDF and refused to give its consent regarding the proposal of the ZDF Director. The necessary quorum in the Administrative Council was not reached and it is legitimately assumed that this happened because some members in the Council did not want to vote for the proposed candidate out of political reasons. This case prompted the most renowned experts of German media and constitutional law to publish an open letter to all members of the Administrative Council of the ZDF, arguing that the election procedure does not fulfil constitutional requirements.

The current application of the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate does not contest the Council’s basic composition of state and non-state representatives in general. It questions its partition and seeks to reduce the places in the Councils that are foreseen for state representatives. Depending on the outcome of this case, the judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court could establish some more precise rules concerning the composition of the Broadcasting Councils and the role that state representatives and political parties play in them.

Sebastian Müller, Research team of the University of Bielefeld (UNIBI)

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