First thoughts on an European monitoring system for the diversity of news media exposure

The Dutch Media Authority is currently working on a research idea of an European monitoring system for measuring the diversity of exposure to news media. Our commissioner, Prof. Mr. Dr. Madeleine de Cock Buning, plead for this idea in her speech at the Pan-European forum on media pluralism and new media in the European Parliament June 2012 (http://www.mediapluralism.eu/).

Despite the wide range of initiatives and activities in the field of media pluralism, an European monitoring system that continuously provides insight in the current state of affairs does however not exist. The complexity of the concept of pluralism is, from our point of view, one of the bottlenecks. We therefore suggest to develop a rather straightforward system in order to guarantee its maintenance.

The system we have in mind has two foci: news media (1) and the use of it (2). The focus on news media is legitimate because of its particular role in democratic societies with regard to citizen’s opinion formation (i.e. the news function). The second focus is based on the user approach which is considered increasingly important. We believe that users are expected to carefully consume a diverse diet of information sources in an seemingly ever expanding amount of suppliers.
Three main research questions are formulated which could be the basis of the monitoring system. These are formulated on a rather detailed level because we hope to enhance discussion about both the practical application and feasibility of such a system.

  1. What is the diversity of exposure to media of citizens (via written press, television, radio and internet) in the European Member States and how does it develop within and vary between platforms?
  2. What is the diversity of exposure to news media of citizens (via written press, television, radio and internet) in the European Member States when gathering information specifically about news and current affairs?
  3. How does supplier concentration develop in the European news market?

The methodology we suggest is a cross-national survey, preferably integrated into an already existing survey such as the European Commission’s Eurobarometer. Input will be needed from the European Member States in order to collect the required information to apply the survey design to each Member State and to verify ownership relations. See also the schematic representation.

So far, we have support from the Dutch national government (the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) and Prof. Dr. Peggy Valcke, who carried out the Media Indicators study on behalf of the European Commission in 2009. As we are aiming to present our ideas to the European Commission, we are seeking to find more parties to support our research ideas.

Are you interested in more information about our research ideas about an European monitoring system? Or do you have suggestions or ideas to further develop these ideas?

Please do not hesitate to contact us by mail info@mediamonitor.nl.

 Schematic representation

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