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EBU, Council of Europe collaborate over media freedom

The human rights organisation Council of Europe and European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote press freedom and preserve the media's ability to operate without interference from governments or powerful lobbies in democratic countries.

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland said, "The Council of Europe and EBU both recognize the important role of public service broadcasters in ensuring media pluralism and diverse content. We acknowledge the growing need in a knowledge-based information society to protect human rights, particularly the freedom of expression and information, and freedom of the media."

Director General of the European Broadcasting Union, Ingrid Deltenre said, "We will be seeking to enhance our partnership and work on future joint activities that will highlight the strategic importance of public service media, increase its understanding by regulators and citizens, and improve the respect of freedom of expression and freedom of the media".

The organizations will strengthen their cooperation in the media sector, on standards setting, capacity building, and in disseminating Council of Europe standards and values. The move comes at a time when media freedom in Europe is deemed to be under threat even in countries with established democracies, with the threats emanating not just from governments attempting to hide corruption, but also powerful corporations or even individuals that seek to exploit or manipulate privacy or other laws to prevent or inhibit publication of any event or news they do not like.

In the UK for example this has come to a head with the issue of the super-injunction, which prevents the media not just from reporting a specified event, but even referring to the fact that an injunction has been granted. The objective of this ruling was to prevent the news leaking out through the back door anyway with journals sniffing around the event, but has been abused by organisations or individuals that have used it in some cases to prevent reporting or unethical or even illegal activities.