Tag Archives: media

Malta: MEPs delegation visit

Brussels 22.05.2022 On 23-25 May, six MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee will assess progress in the investigations, trials, and reforms that followed the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Two and a half years after the last visit of an EP delegation to the country in the context of ongoing efforts to strengthen EU values, MEPs will return to Malta on 23-25 May.

The aim of the visit -organised upon the recommendation of the Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (DRFMG) is to take stock of the latest developments as regards the rule of law, recent judicial reforms, safety of journalists, anti-corruption measures, and citizenship and residence by investment schemes. Communication between Maltese authorities and the DRFMG, as well as the group’s work in this area, continued throughout the pandemic.

The delegation comprises the following MEPs:

Vladimír BILČÍK (EPP, SK)
Franco ROBERTI (S&D, IT)
Sophie IN ‘T VELD (Renew, NL), Delegation Chair
Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens/EFA, FR)
Nicolaus FEST (ID, DE)
Konstantinos ARVANITIS (The Left, EL).

They will meet with:
the President of the Republic of Malta Dr George Vella
the Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela and Cabinet Members
Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti (tbc)
Attorney General Dr Victoria Buttigieg
the Speaker of the Parliament of Malta Hon Anġlu Farrugia
Members of the Parliament of Malta.
They will also hold discussions with commissioners and senior civil servants, representatives of Europol (the EU’s police agency) and regulatory bodies, as well as NGOs, civil society, journalists and representatives of the Daphne Project, and the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Malta: legacy media support

Brussels 22.05.2022 The Maltese government has announced a €500,000 fund for support of printed newspapers (legacy media), to reduce the impact of a hike in printing and paper prices due to the war in Ukraine.

In a statement, the government said Maltese printed journalism had been “impacted by the current extraordinary circumstances, in addition to the major challenges already being experienced by this sector.”

Within this context of hardships for legacy media Prime Minister Robert Abela led a meeting together with finance minister Clyde Caruana and minister for arts Owen Bonnici, with the Institute of Maltese Journalists at Auberge de Castille and a committee of newspaper publishers.

“The role of the newspaper as an integral part of contemporary media, and its key role as a strong instrument of democracy, were also discussed. In view of this crucial role, government will be stepping in and assisting the sector accordingly,” Abela said.

“The government will be providing financial assistance to newspaper publishers, as they currently face significant challenges due to the substantial increase in the price of paper,” the Prime minister added.

Maltese newspaper publishers employ around 66 journalists full-time together with several part-timers, and issue 14 different newspapers, published daily, weekly, and on Sundays.

MEPs focus on media in Digital Decade

Strasbourg 20.10.2021 European Parliament voices concerns about attacks on EU media in some member states and calls for urgent action to help news media be fit for the “Digital Decade”.

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday by 577 votes to 47 and 76 abstentions, MEPs push for substantial support for the media sector from the EU and member states in order to help the sector recover from the pandemic and transform itself to keep pace with the changing business models of the digital age.

Worried about state capture of media in some member states and lawsuits designed to intimidate and silence journalists (“SLAPPs”), MEPs call for legislative and non-legislative tools to protect media organisations.
In order to safeguard the financial and political independence of European journalists and journalism, Parliament wants a permanent EU news media fund and stresses that EU recovery funds earmarked for the media must support media organisations in those EU countries where media face particular financial and political pressure or rule-of-law concerns.

MEPs also point to the dangers of the “disproportionate economic impact” and “predatory behaviour” of global online platforms that dominate data and advertising markets and have the power to remove legal content provided by media services. Additionally, they demand the urgent adoption of the Digital Services and Digital Markets acts, which can provide a level playing field for the EU media and ensure equal access to data and rules on online political advertising.
To support the EU’s audiovisual industry (filmmakers, producers, distributors and cinemas) MEPs demand the EU to develop special tax policies as well as fiscal and financial incentives to boost production and investments, the setting up of EU insurance guarantees for audiovisual co-productions and rules to ensure catalogues of on-demand services contain a share of European works of at least 30%.

“This is truly a crucial moment to strengthen the EU’s media and audiovisual sector”, rapporteur Dace Melbārde (ECR,LV) said. “The media ecosystem was fragile even before the pandemic but the crisis has reinforced the existing challenges it faces, as well as created new ones. Audiences are increasingly shifting to digital platforms, and the income from these is disproportionally flowing to the global players. Last year, the European media sector experienced a significant drop in advertising income, which is a crucial source of revenue for media organisations. At the same time, the Covid-19 crisis has amplified
the role of quality journalism; an absence of professional and swift reporting during times of
pandemic can cost lives.”

According to early estimates, during the pandemic news media has seen its advertising revenues drop by 20% to 80%.
The EU audiovisual sector suffered a massive revenue loss – a drop of almost 70% in box office revenues for cinemas and distributors in 2020, totalling EUR 4 billion, alongside a reduction of 30% in active productions. MEPs also quote increase of production costs due to stricter health and safety measures.

Taliban ceases Helmand RTA media

Brussels 02.08.2021 Militants from the Taliban movement seized the building of the regional state TV and radio center in the city of Lashkar Gah on Monday, August 2, the administrative center of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, TOLOnews television network reports referring to its sources.

According to TOLOnews, all local media outlets in Helmand province have stopped operating. The staff of the TV and radio center left the building two days ago.

Early in July, the Taliban took control over Afghanistan’s regions along the border with five countries – Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, China and Pakistan – against the background of the withdrawal of western coalition troops.

The new commander of the Afghan Armed Forces, General Wali Mohammad Ahmadzai, said the army’s priority was to protect the main cities of the country, border crossing points and roads against the Taliban. According to him, Taliban leaders intend to first cut off the main roads via which goods are supplied, and then launch an offensive on cities and regions.

Russia: Latvia Meduza news ‘Foreign Agent’

Brussels 26.04.2021 Russia has announced the independent news website Meduza a “foreign agent,” the Justice Ministry confirmed on 23 April amid what critics call the Kremlin’s continuing crackdown on freedom of speech.
A statement on the ministry’s website said the decision, which also includes the Moscow-based Pasmi (“First Anti-Corruption Media”) news site, was made “in compliance with the requirements of Russian law.”
Meduza editorial said it does not accept the decision and would challenge it in court. (Image above: Riga, Latvia).

Meduza began publishing out of Latvia in 2014 after its then-chief-editor Galina Timchenko left Russia, and reportedly the media received about $250,000 from the former head of Yukos, Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. This is stated in the report of the Latvian edition.

With a staff of 23 people based in Riga and Russia, Meduza publishes on a website and a mobile phone app, and is already racking up 2.5 million unique visitors a month.

Russia’s 2012 foreign agent law initially targeted media outlets and civil society groups, subsidised from abroad, especially within the jurisdiction of NATO allies. It has in recent years been expanded to include individual journalists and any foreign-funded persons or entities.
Individuals and groups labeled as foreign agents are required to report their activities and face heavy financial audits. Other media outlets are also required to clearly label the designated entities as “foreign agents.”

Russian lawmakers are also considering legislation banning foreign agents from running for federal office.
Statement of the EU by the Spokesperson on labelling Meduza as “foreign agent”:

“We reject the decision by the Russian authorities to include independent media outlet Meduza on the list of “foreign agents”.

It is the European Union’s longstanding position that the so-called ‘foreign agent’ law contributes to a systematic infringement of basic freedoms, and restricts civil society, independent media and the rights of political opposition in Russia. Democracy is a universal value that includes respect for human rights as enshrined in international law.

It is extremely concerning that Russian authorities continue to restrict the work of independent media platforms, as well as individual journalists and other media actors. It goes against Russia’s international obligations and human rights commitments.

It is the duty of media to report on issues of public interest, and it is the obligation of the state authorities to ensure they can do so in an atmosphere free of fear and intimidation.”

Russian authorities consider Meduza to be a news media, produced within jurisdiction of another state, thus “foreign agent”.

New Commission media team announced

Ursula von der Leyen, endorsed as a top EU executive, announces her future media relations team:

Jens Flosdorff, a German national with 15 years’ experience in political communication, is currently part of the President-elect’s transition team. He was director of communication in the German ministries of defence and of social affairs over the past ten years. Previously, he served as deputy and chief spokesperson for the German ministry of family affairs (2005-2009) and deputy chief spokesperson for the ministry of social affairs of Lower Saxony (2004-2005). In all these positions, Jens Flosdorff worked closely with Ursula von der Leyen. Prior to his public service career, he worked as a journalist in Hannover between 2000 and 2004.

Eric Mamer, a French national, is currently Director in charge of competitiveness and the European semester in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. His 25 years of experience in the Commission span various policy areas and management and communication positions, including deputy head of cabinet of Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger (2012-2016) on energy and on digital issues, head of unit in the Directorates-General for Budget and for Communication (2005-2012), and spokesman for two European Commissioners (1999-2004).

Dana Spinant, a Romanian national, is currently director in charge of budget, communication and general affairs in the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy. Before that, she was a head of unit in charge of irregular migration (2015-2017) and of drugs policy (2010-2014). Prior to joining the Commission, Dana Spinant worked for 15 years in journalism, including as editor and deputy editor of European Voice (2002-2009), deputy editor of EUobserver.com (2001-2002), as well as news director and Brussels correspondent for various Romanian TV channels.

Eric Mamer and Dana Spinant will start in their new positions once the von der Leyen Commission takes office – which according to the Treaties is 1 November 2019. The current team of the Spokesperson’s Service remains in charge until the end of the mandate of the Juncker Commission.

 

 


 

La Présidente élue von der Leyen annonce la composition de sa future équipe de relations avec les médias

 

Aujourd’hui, la Présidente élue a désigné le noyau de son équipe de relations médias: Jens Flosdorff en tant que Conseiller exécutif pour la communication au sein de son cabinet, responsable des activités médiatiques de la Présidente, Eric Mamer comme porte-parole en chef de la Commission européenne, et Dana Spinant comme porte-parole en chef adjointe.

 

Spain unionists export violence to Barcelona

Concluding the day of a massive anti-independence rally in Barcelona, numerous incidents of violence against journalists, police, transport workers, and damages to public buildings were reported by the victims, witnesses, and social media. Till present 11 reported wounded.

The 300,000-strong march in Barcelona included also far-right groups decorated by Spanish flags, and fascist symbols, who directed their aggression against declaration of Catalan Republic splashed over different groups from media and police, to inhabitants and pedestrians.

A journalist from the Catalan digital newspaper El Nacional was attacked on by an aggressive unionist.  A group of journalists from the Catalan TV public broadcaster were also intimidated, while a van from the same TV station was damaged.

The incidents have been reported since Friday a far-right group of demonstrators for the unity of Spain intimidated employees of the Catalan radio public broadcaster and Barcelona local TV station. The outraged opponents of declaration of Catalan Republic smashed windows of Catalan radio, and damaged main doors, until Catalan police officers had set a police cordon to protect the premises.

The far-right protesters from the rally also attacked Catalan police. The incident took place in Plaça Sant Jaume, outside the Catalan government headquarters, the attackers were insulting the officers and throwing objects: ‘Long live Franco!’, ‘Long live Spain!’ and ‘Franco would fix you!’

So far the EU institutions failed to address the issue of Spanish violence in Catalonia, giving their unconditional support to Prime minister Mariano Rajoy, to what he calls the “restoration of legality” in self-proclaimed Catalan Republic.

The UN experts have already presented their opinion on events in Catalonia, explaining that the ‘territorial integrity’ principle can not be used for suppression of human rights, and right to self-determination of people. ‘Territorial integrity’ is a fundamental principle preventing external forces, but not an excuse to deny people their basic right to determine their future.