The novelty of MPM2020 is that the Monitor has been adapted to take into account the impact of digital developments on media pluralism across Europe. In this respect the MPM started off from looking at the role played and the power held by online platforms in the news market when filtering, framing and delivering news content to users.
Once more, the findings show either a general stagnation or deterioration in all of the four major areas encompassed by the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM): Basic protection, Market plurality, Political independence and Social inclusiveness. As in previous reports, MPM2020 highlights the lack of data – in particular economic data – as a particular problem and as a growing phenomenon, not least in the digital field.
The Media Pluralism Monitor 2020 (MPM 2020) has confirmed the findings of the previous five rounds of monitoring – showing that no country analysed is free from risks to media pluralism. Once more there has been a further deterioration in the area of Basic protection which assesses the essential conditions for freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists.
2018 and 2019 were marked by events that have had a significant impact on media freedom and media pluralism in Europe. The darkest hour was without doubt the assassination of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnirova in 2018. The investigations and independent inquiry into the assassination in Malta, in October 2017, of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, as well as those examining the Kuciak case are pointing to serious institutional shortcomings.
Highlights from the results
- Journalists and other media actors continue to face a series of threats and attacks (physical and digital) in several of the states monitored, not least as a result of the deployment of SLAPP lawsuits and credible threats to their physical safety;
- Journalists’ working conditions have deteriorated further, exposing journalists to external and undue pressures in their professional activity in most of the countries examined. The impact of the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the problem (given that MPM2020 covered the years 2018 and 2019, it does not examine the pandemic’s impact);
- Whistleblower protection is still weak in EU Member States;
- Media ownership concentration remains one of the most significant risks to media pluralism and is seen as creating barriers to the diversity of information and viewpoints;
- Online platform concentration and competition enforcement registers a high risk across the countries examined;
- Existing media business models are proving increasingly ineffective at providing the financial resources necessary to support journalists and news organizations;
- News organisations continue to be vulnerable to political interference, especially if economic conditions are unstable while notably lower risks of political control are registered with regard to digital native media;
- The majority of countries monitored register a high risk in the field of the distribution of state advertising;
- Transparency of media ownership registers medium risk on average across the states monitored;
- A lack of political independence of public service media, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, remains a matter of concern;
- Lack of gender equality in managerial and content creation roles in European media organisations remains a problem;
- In the majority of countries media literacy policies are available but are not comprehensive;
- The lack of data, in particular economic data, across many states has been highlighted as a risk in its own right.
The Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) is designed to identify potential risks to media pluralism in the EU’s Member States. It is an independent project, co-funded by the European Commission based on financial allocations from the European Parliament, and designed and implemented by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) based at the European University Institute in Florence.