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Council of Europe Assembly warns over Europe’s press freedom

Strasbourg, 29.01.2015 – The European Federation of Journalists welcomes today the adoption of a report on the Protection of Media Freedom in Europe by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) but warns about the worrying trends on press freedom in Europe.
“Although we welcome the adoption of the report, it highlighted again the worrying trends in Europe on press freedom particularly in countries where serious cases of press freedom violations are prominent,” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. “Countries highlighted in the report including Azerbaijan, Hungary, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine should step up their efforts in improving their press freedom records”, emphasised Bjerregård.
The two-hour debate before the formal adoption was the occasion for many of the 300 voting members of the PACE to make their comments and remarks. Discussion concerned in particular Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Hungary, where cases of press freedom violation were debated and even challenged by various speakers. The discussion concluded that press freedom is yet to be made reality in many countries represented at the PACE.
Mr. Gvozden Srećko Flego, the rapporteur of the report and representative from Croatia (Deputy of Social Democratic Party) has taken a strong stand on some of the governments’ denials over the cases of press freedom violations mentioned in the report. Mr. Flego insisted that the report was based on a collection of factual findings from national experts working in the field of media despite that some governments disputed the cases of press freedom violations in the report. (You can read more about the comments made by Mr. Flego in this interview).
The report also raises concerns over media concentration and calls for measures to regulate media ownership transparency. It proposes the setting up of a “Media Identity Card” which would oblige media companies to provide information about the owners of a media outlet including the so-called “shadow owners” who contribute substantially to its income, such as big advertisers or donors.

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