18 December 1991

Doc. 6541

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION

on the role of the media in situations of tension

presented by Mrs GRENDELMEIER and others


1.       In the line of its series of colloquies on mass media questions (East-West audiovisual co-operation, Orvieto, 1988 and parliamentary responsibility for the democratic reform of broadcasting, Prague, 1990) and further to the recent war in the Persian Gulf and its coverage by the media, the Committee on Culture and Education held a parliamentary hearing on the ethics of journalism (Helsinki, 26 June 1991).

2.       Another war has now been devastating some republics of Yugoslavia, and in particular Croatia, for some months which despite the fact that it is taking place within Europe, has attracted much less international media coverage with corresponding negative consequences for the neutrality of the reporting of the situation.

3.       Situations of tension exist within other European states, as a result of such pressures as terrorism, the resurgence of extreme right ideologies, nationality conflicts, xenophobia or anti-semitism, to name but a few, and the way in which the media have been dealing with these situations has not always escaped criticism.

4.       As a result of political, economic and technological developments, the mass media in general and television in particular are now being reshaped. The Council of Europe has underlined the need to ensure that media concentrations do not undermine the existence of a plurality of independent and autonomous sources of information. In the light of the findings of the Third Ministerial Conference on Mass Media Policy (Nicosia, 9-10 October 1991) the Committee of Ministers has instructed the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM) to continue studying this issue, which is also under consideration by the Assembly.

5.       Parliaments are the guarantors of both freedom of expression and the right of people to information. Particular attention should be given to the power of the visual image and the dangers of its misuses.

6.       Further to its own work on this field the Assembly should also examine the role of the media in situations of tension, in close co-operation with the CDMM and other competent bodies, with a view to recommending the adoption of appropriate guidelines and codes of conduct.

Signed:       GRENDELMEIER, HAWLICEK, SZELENYI, ARNALDS, CEM, LIAPIS, PARKANOVA, NOERENS, Stig GUSTAFSSON, VERBEEK, PARRY, MEZZAPESA, O'KEEFFE.