Community Media was represented by the CMFE board members Ciaran Murray and Pieter de Wit at the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society, held in Belgrade on November 7-8, and at the Meeting of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on November 6 2013.

Titled “FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND DEMOCRACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE, Opportunities, Rights and Responsibilities” the Conference addressed developments in the media field that are relevant to human rights and democracy.

Ministers responsible for Media and Information Society from the 47 Council of Europe member states have called for adequate and effective guarantees against abuse concerning the growing technological capabilities for electronic mass surveillance.

In a political declaration adopted at the conference the ministers recall that any data collection or surveillance for the protection of national security must be done in compliance with human rights requirements, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

They also adopted thee resolutions mapping out the future work of the Council of Europe in the field of freedom of expression.

The Resolution on Preserving the essential role of media in the digital age states that: “The preservation of the essential role of media in the digital age justifies, alongside commercial media, further support for, on the one hand, a well-funded, sustainable, independent, high quality and ethical public service media providing distinctive content on all services and platforms and, on the other hand, non-profit community media capable of addressing the specific needs of various communities and committed to inclusive and intercultural practices.”

It also urges member states to:

“carefully consider, in the light of Council of Europe standards on media pluralism and diversity of content, questions relating to digital convergence, connected television and other new arrangements for the delivery of essential media content or information and, in this context, examine the role of public service media and community media services.”

CMFE took part in the Multi-stakeholder dialogue “Pluralism, diversity and quality in the new media ecosystem – opportunities and risks” and provided feedback to the Ministerial session on the same topic, stressing that “the community media sector is under resourced when it comes to adequate regulation, financial means and distribution channels. In these areas we need more support from national governments.”

In conclusion, both committees “ (…) supported the independence and financial sustainability of public service broadcasting as well as community media as essential elements of the media landscape in a democratic society”.