The role of the media in Central Europe and in Europe

Alison Harcourt: Media Markets and regulation in accession states
New regulatory frameworks came into effect during the mid- and late- 1990s in accession states. However, because media laws took many years to enact, the media markets of Central and Eastern Europe developed in a regulatory vacuum. The period immediately following the fall of the curtain in 1989 saw an initial proliferation in independent newspapers and broadcasters (independent defined as not state-owned). This market consolidated into the present status quo, wherein a large number of national newspapers closed, and both press and broadcasting markets became highly concentrated. The present status quo shows high levels of market concentration, market domination by foreign groups, and increased government intervention in PSB programming. This article will observe how media markets evolved in a selected number of accession states, and the present state of media market regulation. The article will focus on the media markets of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.. It is meant to provide both background and context for subsequent articles in this journal issue.

István Hegedűs: After the Accession Talks, Facing the Referendum: Hungary and Its Media Joining the European Union
Since the regime-change in 1989-90, political elites and the public have permanently supported Hungary’s Euro-Atlantic political orientation. Just three months before a decisive referendum on the accession to the European Union on 12 April 2003, however, former ‘yes, but’ euro-pessimistic fears and attitudes as well as new, harder euro-skeptical rumors spread over, causing a decline of support to the historical project amongst the citizens. Main reasons of this negative tendency are analysed in this essay: negative perceptions about the motivations of the current member states, ignorance and stereotypes about the European institutions and decision-making processes in media coverage, a false agenda of top politicians and the media when focusing on the financial advantages of Hungary’s entry to the club and neglecting the vision of a united Europe. Moreover, the polarisation of the main political camps and their electorates has achieved the European issue as former Prime Minister attacked the final results of the accession negotiations in Copenhagen. Nevertheless, most of the Hungarians’ cultural identification with Europe might ensure a clear victory of the pro-Europeans at the referendum and the country might leave its inherited provincialism behind.

Gergely Hideg: Public Opinion in the Accession Countries
This paper outlines the core results of the latest Candidate Countries Eurobarometer, from October 2002. In the conclusion, the paper attempts to collect the very latest third party results that indicate the latest trends in countries that are already preparing for referendums.

Christoph Meyer: Exploring the European Union’s Communication deficit: Old Problems and New Departures
The paper explores the origins and causes of the European Union’s communication deficit. It is argued that the most important symptom of this deficit is the public’s lack of awareness about member states’ role in the European Union. The lack of knowledge and awareness about how citizens’ representatives act in Brussels and implement EU decisions at home hinders citizens to connect their social preferences with the few means of influencing EU politics available to them – the election of national representatives. It is further argued that the causes of the communication deficit need to be sought in the interplay of political actors and journalists at various levels of governance, not with one single alone. While the Commission clearly plays an important role in communicating the EU, it is the member states, which can do most and have done little so far, to relay political issues to wider national audiences, partly for strategic reasons. At the same time, journalism has not yet adapted to the challenges of covering politics in a multi-level governing system. The article thus concludes by suggesting avenues for reform with respect to both EU governance and journalism.

Laura Simionescu: Values in the Media. “Europe” in the East European Media
European integration is regarded by many as the necessary direction for the pursuit of the ”Western ideal” and the benefits that they perceive to be a direct result of integration into ”accepted” Europe. Mass media are a powerful source for encouraging change and influencing public opinion and to some extent the media should act as an educator and a promoter of reforms for integration into the European Union. Both the state and private media offer means of raising awareness of issues pertaining to EU integration. The two central social actors of the EU membership debate are politicians and the mass media. They play their ”two palace game” over the heads of citizens. The political leaders and media are the main channels of exchange between Eastern and Western values, registering the inputs and the outputs from each one and granting the communication between them. The media is meant to be the main public opinion generator, while the political leaders present the mirror of the interaction between the constraints of their voters and the pressure exercised by the necessity of European integration process.

Sandra B. Hrvatin and Lenart J. Kucic: Slovenia: Monopoly – a social game of trading in media shares
The paper aims to provide an accessible, clear and a relatively precise overview of the ownership structure of Slovenian media companies. With this objective in mind the authors examined all available public sources containing data on media owners and their investments. The authors also examined hundreds of newspaper articles and held a number of interviews. In an attempt to get a clearer picture of the background details, numerous Internet sources were surveyed that preserve many names which were once featured in newspaper articles or business related events but have since been forgotten. As it were, the initial, rather simple story appears to have fragmented over time into a multitude of smaller stories that appear unconnected at first glance but are in fact parts of a larger story. So, this article shows that media concentration is not solely an academic debate alienated from practice.

Hagi Shein and Marju Lauristin: Public Service Broadcasting in Estonia
The transformation of television in Estonia during last decade of the twentieth century could be characterised as a period of the emergence and development of a dual broadcasting system. A balance between the public and private sectors and conditions facilitating the stable and systematic development of the TV sectors were not fully achieved. The most serious step towards these aims was done at the end of 2001, when the amendment of the Broadcasting Act abandoned advertising on Estonian Television and changed the basic financing model of the public broadcasting. Many trends of the development of the broadcasting sector in Estonian have been, and still are, similar to the trends in European public service broadcasting. However, tge role of the public service media remains unspecified and underestimated. The problems of public service television cannot be solved in isolation from the adjustment of the whole Estonian TV industry to a general plan of development.  This plan should take into consideration the interests of the state and the nation, the needs of the public, resources available for economic development and professional growth and for increasing of the creative potential of TV sector itself.

Karol Jakubowicz: EU Media Policy Orientations and Prospects for Public Service Broadcasting in Member Countries
Public service broadcasting in post-Communist countries is generally seen as failing to deliver on its promise of independence and political impartiality, as well as of serving as a mainstay of the public sphere, and of delivering diverse and pluralistic content of high quality. They suffer from a lack of social embededness of the idea of public service broadcasting and lack of a social constituency willing and able to support public service broadcasters and buttress its autonomy and independence. Public service broadcasting has been introduced in Central and Eastern Europe as part of a process of ”imitative transformation”. However, transplantation of organizational and institutional frameworks from Western Europe cannot be complete or successful until the cultural underpinnings of those institutions have been created, enabling them to operate properly. Political culture is still in an ideological stage of development. Meanwhile, the European Union and its member states are emerging out of what has been called a public service stage of media policy development, and replacing it with a new paradigm of media policy, oriented more to economic goals than to social and political welfare, concentrating primarily on such issues as continuation of commercial competition and technological innovation, openness and transparency of ownership and control, maximum access for all and choice for consumers. There is a clear danger that some post-Communist countries may follow this example. If they do, they will have “leapfrogged” a stage of media and societal development, and after hitherto largely unsuccessful attempts to introduce public service broadcasting would pass on to the next stage of media policy development. This article questions how this would serve the consolidation of democracy and development of the public sphere – clearly some of the main goals of post-Communist transformation.

Mario Oetheimer: EU Media Policy Orientations and Prospects for Public Service Broadcasting in Member Countries
This article analyses the Council of Europe assistance programmes in the media field and the monitoring mechanisms set-up by the Council of Europe. It further explores the need for greater cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Union in order to ensure a minimum safeguarding of freedom of expression through a coordinated monitoring procedure at the political level. Such an approach would pre-suppose common benchmarks for assessing the level of protection provided and create the political pressure required to bring about changes in EU countries as well as its future members who are currently Council of Europe Member States.

Zsolt Boda, Balázs Kiss and Kata Berta: Campaign on the Net. Parties, Papers and Palavers in the 2002 Hungarian Elections.
In Hungary, the 2002 general elections could be considered the effective debut of the Internet into the political arena. The authors give a report on the Web events during the campaign period. In their summary, they define three protagonists: the parties, the online news portals and the citizens involved in political talks on Index, the leading Hungarian portal. They raise the questions: what use the parties made of their web sites, whether they take advantage of the possibilities the new medium offered; how the news portals followed the campaign developments, whether there were significant differences among the various types of portals; how the life of Index’s political forum reflected the fierce battles during the campaign, whether the talks in the topics were deliberative.

Ashok Kumar Upadhyay: Reflections on the Theoretical Development of Concept of Justice
Justice has been the topic of hot debate right from the beginning of systematic political theory. Though its nature and scope have changed with time, its importance has remained almost the same. In the ancient time when Political Science was treated as master science, the concept played a central role in the theoretical exercises of Greek philosophers. Justice was one of the four virtues, which every individual possessed. As a virtue, the function of justice was to organise the self at individual level and the state at societal level. In the middle ages, the concept of eternal justice was complimented by divine concept and as such, the individuals were obliged to subordinate themselves to the commands of political and religious arrangements, which were supposed to be just. In the modern period, individuals declined to accept the yoke of political and religious control and consequently asserted for their personal freedom. Justice came to be constituted in limited governance and all social and political institutions became subordinated to individual interests. In the contemporary period, the social basis of justice emerged and theoreticians and philosophers emphasised more on the just functioning of social and political institutions. The present article aims at finding the development of the concept of justice in western political philosophy. The attempt has been made to trace and analyse the concept from ancient Greeks to the contemporary philosophers.