Media pluralism and democracy in the EU
BSSB.BE dbk.gesis.org 29.11.2016
Free media and a plurality of voices in society and in the media are indispensable preconditions of, and essential safeguards for a healthy democracy. Freedom of expression and media freedom and pluralism are enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental rights of the European Union.
They are at the core of the basic democratic values on which the Union is founded1. The importance of these basic tenets is further underlined by the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, adopted in 20142.
In light of the importance of media plurality and freedom, the Directorate General for Justice and Consumers commissioned the following Eurobarometer survey to explore citizen’s opinions about the diversity of views available in the media, and their perceptions of media independence. In particular, the survey covers the following areas:
- Views about the variety of opinions and views presented in the media;
- Perceptions of the independence of both the general and public service media;
- Trust in the information provided by the media
- Awareness of the national media regulator, and opinions about its independence;
- Participation in debates on social media;
- Online encounters with hate speech and threats, and the influence this has on participation
This survey was carried out by TNS Political & Social network in the 28 Member States of the European Union between the 24th of September and 3rd of October 2016. Some 27,768 EU citizens from different social and demographic categories were interviewed face-to-face at home and in their native language on behalf of the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG-JUST).
The methodology used is that of Eurobarometer surveys as carried out by the Directorate-General for Communication (“Strategy, Corporate Communication Actions and Eurobarometer” Unit)3. A technical note concerning the interviews conducted by the member institutes of the TNS Opinion & Social network is annexed to this report. It also specifies the interview methods and the confidence intervals.
The majority think their national media provide a diversity of views, but most say it is
not free from political or commercial pressures.
– Two thirds of respondents (66%) agree that their national media provide a diversity of views and opinions, and the majority in all but one Member State agree (Greece is the only exception)
– More than four in ten EU citizens (44%) say the level of diversity of views and opinions in the national media are the same as it was five years ago, 29% think there is more diversity, while 18% say there is less
– Almost four in ten respondents (38%) agree their national media provide information free from political or commercial pressure – the majority disagree (57%). There are only nine Member States where the majority agree.
– Just over a third of respondents agree their national public service media are free from political pressure (35%), but the majority (60%) disagree.
– Almost half (45%) think their national media are as free and independent as they were five
years ago, while 18% say it is more free and independent, and 28% think it is less so.
– A small majority (53%) agree their national media provide trustworthy information, while 44% think it does not. In 19 Member States, the majority of respondents agree their national media provide trustworthy information.
– Radio is most likely to be considered reliable (66%), followed by television and newspapers (both 55%). Far fewer respondents consider social media to be reliable (32%).
- Radio is considered the most reliable media in 25 countries.
Variety of information in the media
– Two-thirds of respondents agree that their national media provide a diversity of views
and opinions – The majority of respondents (66%) agree their national media provide a diversity of views and opinions5. Just under one third (31%) say it does not, while 2% of respondents say they do not know.
2 Are the media independent?
- Independence of the general media
- A minority of respondents say their national media provide information free from political or commercial pressure – Almost four in ten respondents (38%) agree their national media provide information free from or commercial pressure. However, the majority (57%) do not agree. Less than one in twenty respondents (4%) says they do not know.
3 Trust in the media
– A slight majority agree their national media provide trustworthy information – Most of respondents (53%) agree their national media provide trustworthy information, while 44% think it does not8. Only 2% of respondents say they do not know.
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