Since April 2012, thanks to the unprecedented democratic mechanism European Citizens’ Initiative, under certain conditions, EU citizens can participate directly in the development of EU policies by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal in a given area. Commission should develop appropriate regulations to submit to the European Parliament and, if they are accepted, to be valid for each member state of the Union.
European Alternatives, an international NGO, based in Italy, came to the idea to use this opportunity and to launch a European Initiative on Media Pluralism after years of fruitless efforts towards overcoming the monopoly of the media group of former Italian Prime minister. In the process they found that most Member States have similar problems in the media as one of the most striking examples recently is the controversial policy of the Hungarian government. The monopoly in media has also affected older democracies like Britain, also countries like Portugal and Romania. Bulgaria has for long occupied the last places in Europe in various international rankings and reports regarding the independence of the media and freedom of speech, so Media Development Center was also invited as a partner.
By the end of June 2012 at a meeting in Brussels was established informal coalition of organizations from 9 EU countries – Italy, Britain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Current partner organizations are:
Presseurop (International); Cafebabel.com (International); Courrier international (France); Reporters sans fronti?res (France); MdJ (France) ; Liberation (France); Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (Germany); The Investigating Committee on; Media Concentrations (Germany); Initiative & Referendum Institute Europe (Germany); FNSI (Italy); Libert? e Giustizia (Italy); Articolo 21 (Italy); CGIL (Italy); ARCI (Italy); MoveON (Italy); Consiglio Italiano del Movimento Europeo – CIME (Italy); Radio 3 (Italy); Radio Popolare (Italy); Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy); La Stampa (Italy); Il Manifesto (Italy); International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (Italy); Osservatorio di Pavia (Italy); Unimondo (Italy); ANSI (Italy); Glob Press (Italy); Radio Alma (Belgium); Apache Newslab (Belgium); Open Dialog Foundation (Belgium); University of Ghent (Belgium); European Journalism Centre (Belgium); ECAS (Belgium); Foundation Civil Activity (Belgium); IHECS (Belgium); Fonds Pascal Decroos (Belgium); AIJ (Belgium); Hungarian civil liberty Union (Hungary); Elet ?s Irodalom (Hungary); Hungarian Europe Society (Hungary); Milla – one million for freedom of the press (Hungary); Central European University (Hungary); ?tl?tsz? Center for Investigative Journalism (Hungary); Centre for Independent Journalism (Romania); Active Watch (Romania); Freedom House Romania (Romania); Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism (Romania); Reporter Virtual (Romania); Partidul Ecologist Roman (Romania); Center for Civic Resources / Centrul pentru Resurse Civice (Romania); Center for Investigative Journalism in Slovenia (Slovenia); European Fund for Investigative Journalism (Denmark); Kaas & Mulvad -; Research Centre (Denmark); NGO MANS (Montenegro); Institut f?r Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft der Universit?t Wien (Austria); People in need (Czech Republic); European Journalism Center of Maastricht (Netherlands); VVOJ (Netherlands); Free press now (Netherlands); European centre for journalism (Netherlands); Visao Impresa (Portugal); NUJ (UK); Campaign for press and broadcasting freedom (UK); Index on Censorship (UK); Red Peppet (UK); Open Knowledge Foundation (UK); the-latest.com (UK).
The EIMP began constructing a broad range of supporters including key public figures. Amongst others, actor Hugh Grant gave its support to the EIMP and is currently preparing a video-message endorsing the campaign. National coordinations in the nine countries are currently contacting key cultural and social figures to secure a wide range of endorsements for the time the campaign and signature-collection will start.
The EIMP secured important support in the European Parliament, and continues expanding a group of over 35 MEPs openly supporting the initiative. Importantly, following the presentation of the ECI in the EP on June 27th the President of the EP Martin Schultz publicly called for an EU Directive on Media Pluralism.
In August 2012 the coalition sent reasoned proposal to the EC which demands amendments to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (or the adoption of new Directive for Media Pluralism) aiming at a partial harmonisation of national rules on media ownership and transparency, and setting EU standards for the sufficient independence of the media supervisory bodies, also as necessary steps towards the correct functioning of the internal market. The entire text of the proposal can be downloaded from here.
In October 2012 will be launched a campaign for media pluralism in Bulgaria, which will aim to recruit support for this proposal (it needs more than one million online signatures from across Europe), and joint efforts to return confidence in Bulgarian journalism. The campaign will last exactly one year and will be implemented in partnership and with the support of:
Capital newspaper, Darik radio, Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), NGO webportal, PR agency “Intelday Solutions”, Association of European Journalists (AEJ – Bulgaria), Center for Culture and Debate “The Red House”, Bulgarian Donors Forum, National Network for Children, School for democracy Association, United ideas for Bulgaria Association, MEP Dr. Andrey Kovacthev and others.