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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE AV.Observatory Director Closs to EuroFora: European replies to US Dominance on Digital Media=Key

CoE AV.Observatory Director Closs to EuroFora: European replies to US Dominance on Digital Media=Key

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 07 November 2012
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- A set of Principles on the Rights of Internet Users and the development of European Players in the Digital Audio-Visual Market, can and must be Europe's reply to the growing need to Safeguard Democratic "Pluralism" in New Media able to "Shape Public Opinion", but currently challenged by a growing Media Concentration dominated by a few USA Companies, as it results in substance from statements to "EuroFora" by CoE's Director on Information Society and Crime, Jan Kleijssen and by the PanEuropean AudioVisual Observatory's (EAVObs') Executive Director, Wolfgang Closs, on the occasion of a landmark Conference organized at CoE's Headquarters in Strasbourg on the 20th Anniversary of EAVObs., during which many Top Experts focused on "Transparency" about "Media Concentration".

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While, a Decade ago, Radio-TV Broadcasters were the main actors concerned by Media Concentration, on the contrary, Today, "the means by which enterprises can Control the Media sector are increasingly subtle and attach to virtually All Stages of the Value chain", where "Market Power and Media Domination can be based (f.ex.) on a strong CopyRight portofolio, as much as on the control of Platforms and/or Transmission Networks", etc., while "Verticaly Integrated Businesses ... are able to build simultaneously on a rich .. AV Content, various Media Services, and priority Transmission arrangements, or can control such Infrastructures", and, "more recently, the issue of Dominance emerged also in relation to Manufacturers of Reception Devices", (TV sets, PCs and Tablets, SmartPhones, etc), observes a Special Edition of EAVObs' Legal Publication "IRIS" dedicated to the need for "Regulation" on "Converged Markets and Converged Power" able to "Shape Public Opinion", which was prepated and introduced by EAVObs' Legal services' Head Susanne Nikoltchev.
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      "Screen Digest"'s Chief Analyst, Ben Keen, from London, described how it has become Today much "easier to develop Dominance" by Internet Networks-interConnected Devices, Software and Works", (See relevant Photo),

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    while Bernd Malzanini, Director of KEK, the German Committee on Media Concentration, based at Potsdam, explained that his "Mission to ensure Pluralism of Opinions", mainly by "Transparency", and "prevent a predominant Dominance on Opinion-making, (f.ex. if a Company controls more than 25 % or 30% of a Media market),

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revealed, inter alia, a recent popular Trend, (particularly among Young People), to swift from the still remaining TV-predominance among various Medias used in average everyday, towards an Internet priority in the foreseeable Future, (according to some astonishing Graphics).

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    Nevertheless, efficient EU Rules against risks of Concentration in that New Media landscape are almost ...non-existent until now, denounced EU Law Professor Roberto Mastroianni, from Naples' University,

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while the Director of the Office of OSCE's Representative for Mass Media Freedom, Andrei Rikhter, after observing that "CoE doesn't cover only the EU, but rather a much more Wide area", despite a rather Critical presentation of Digital Media actors throughout all Europe up to Russia and other ex-CIS Countries, noted at least the active presence of "Yandex",  (which is "Independent" minded, as he later stressed to "EuroFora"), and other relevant, evolving Russian companies, (such as Kapirsky, Rambler, Kontakti, etc), that also other Experts found as a rare counter-weight vis a vis the otherwise uncontested Dominance mainly of a few North American Compagnies such as principally "Google",  "Apple" and "Microsoft", added to "Facebook", "Twitter", etc., and partly followed by South-Korean "Samsung", etc.

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    Such facts naturally incited certain participants, as f.ex. Marco Cole, Professor of Media Law from Luxembourg, to raise the obviously Topical Question about how EU Countries could protect themselves from eventual attempts to abuse a Dominant position in a Media-related Digital Market "by Non-European Players", as he characteristically pointed out.

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    A move which stirred a rather "hot", animated and interesting Debate among various participants to the CoE's Conference, until it was, suddenly, ... interrupted by an unprecedented Cut of Electric Power which threw all the Room into a spooky Black-out Darkness, never seen before at CoE's Headquarters in Strasbourg, similar to the recent (2012) New York's Manhattan black-out after the Hurricane "Sandy", (and reminding to "EuroFora" a rare experience of a similar Electric Power cut at UNO's N.Y. Headquarters back on 2005, which amused some US collegues ready to propose to their Media satirical Headlines of the kind :  - "U.N. Powerless ?!", etc)..

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    - "That might be a reaction from some "Non-European actors", immediately reacted, amused, the experienced EAVObs' Top Economic Expert, André Lange, who, nevertheless, observed, afterwards, smiling, that, sometimes, "Statistics might lie more than Lights"..

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    - At any case, "it's a fact that American influence on Audio-Visual Works has increased even further, recently in Europe", critically observed, later, André Lange, speaking to "EuroFora".


    => This obviously made more Topical the subsequent question about whether, when and how could be developed also some equivalent "European Players", particularly in the Digital AudioVisual Markets, for which "EuroFora" witnessed a rather vivid interest in several participants.

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 - Yes, Absolutely, Europe must develop today some real, big, efficient and innovative Players able to act on the Digital AV front Worldwide, f.ex. by grouping together some Companies able to provide Digital AV Content, Networks and Tools, clearly agreed with "EuroFora" the experienced long-time Director of the PanEuropean AudioVisual Observatory of the CoE, Wolfgang Closs from Norway, stressing, in this regard, that, after all, "the Digital AV World is (already) Global".


 - But, Today, I wanted to gather together here (at the CoE) the living Memory of all those who have been observing the EAVObs. since its creation (back on 1993), because that means that if they continue to observe you for 20 years, then, you really Exist", Closs joked, speaking to "EuroFora", whose co-Founder has, indeed, followed at least EAVO's main developments since 1993..
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 - Back in the 1980ies, when mainstream EU leaders, including f.ex. former French President François Mitterand, realized that "Culture is not just an ordinary Merchandise like all others", a cooperation between EU and CoE (headed then by Catherine Lalumiere : comp. some of her statements to "EuroFora") for the "creation of an European Audio-Visual Area", had resulted in the establishment of a 1st EU Directive on TV, of EURONEWS and of the PanEuropean Audio-Visual Observatory, reminded one of that Historic movement's actors, former Ambassador Bernad Miyet, President of Valarda Consulting, who was a Key-note Speaker at today's event. But now, on 2012, something must obviously be done in order to facilitate at least the creation of European Digital AV market Players, despite the current Financial problems, agreed later Ambassador Miyet (who has had an interesting experience also at California, US in the Past) with "EuroFora".
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 + By a Timely coincidence, this same Evening, German Chancellor Angie Merkel, (a well-known supporter of Innovation in Digital Technologies), after a landmark debate on EU's Future towards a closer Economic and Political Union, together with MEPs Groups' Presidents at EU Parliament in Brussels, where she stressed that "Europe must be an Innovative Continent" and "Invest in the Future",


is meeting in London the British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has recently stressed, at the latest EU Brussels' Summit (comp. "EuroFora"s NewsReports from the spot) that - "there is a Global Race taking place, and ...there is a danger of European countries and the EU falling behind. So ... what is absolutely vital is that we encourage enterprise, "and ... most importantly, we look at the greatest asset we've got, which is the Single Market, ...the single Biggest Market anywhere in the World, and we Complete that market", since, even in "its 20th Anniversary right now, ...it still isn't finished, in Digital, in Services", etc., "and that is the Agenda I'll be pushing very hard".

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CoE to adopt Rules for "Protection of Internet Users' Human Rights" in 2013

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The Conservative-Liberal Governing Coalition in the UK has already shown its interest on Internet-related issues during the recent Brittish rotating Presidency of the CoE, (November 2011- May 2012), which strongly supported a PanEuropean Strategy on main Principles for Guidance at the World Wide Web, at the aftermath of the 1st ever discussion on Internet Governance by the G8 Summit of Heads of State/Government under the Chairmanship of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy at Deauville, (Comp. "EuroFora"s relevant NewsReports both from the G8 Summit at Deauville and from the Brittish CoE Presidency in Strasbourg).


 => - "According to CoE's recently adopted "Internet Strategy", Strasbourg's PanEuropean Organization is currently working on a Pioneer Legal Recommendation for "the Protection of the Human Rights of Internet Users", which concerns "all Internet-related Platforms", and could be hopefully adopted by CoE's Committee of Ministers in the course of Next Year (2013), revealed to "EuroFora" the experienced CoE Director on Information Society and Crime, Jan Kleijssen from Austria (forthcoming 2013 CoE's rotating Chair),

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+ In parallel,  continues to evolve further also CoE's preparation of  a "Modernization" of its Historic "Data Protection" International Treaty, while EU also drafts its own Data Protection norms.


=> USA also (which already have a Special Status at the CoE, as well as Canada, Japan, etc) can and do follow CoE's relevant activities, while big American and other Companies are even more interested, and could,  f.ex. benefit from a kind of "Quality Mark" if they endorse CoE's Internet Users' Norms, Kleissjen agreed with "EuroFora".
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    But, since the Digital AV World has really become "Global", as EAVObs' Executive Director, Wolfgang Closs observed to "EuroFora" (comp. Supra), then, what about China ?


 - Pointing at a recent trend towards a "Convergence accross Industries in the Digital AV sector, "Cultural industry will further Integrate with other industries", such as "Manufacturing and Service industries", which  "will spur ...Development", particularly with "substantial progress ..in the Integration of Telecommunications Networks, Cable TV networks and the Internet", stressed mainstream "People's Daily" in a Strategic  text placed under the Heading "a Vision of Innovation", published at the eve of a crucial CPC Congress November 8-15, 2012.

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In this regard, "Digital industry will develop at Fast pace and ultimately become the Core of the Cultural sector", creating "a Digital Boom", CPD concludes.
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+ "China's cultural Innovation is heading towards a golden Decade of unprecedented prosperity, profits and pride", it hopes : "Over the next decade, China's cultural industry is geared to maintain high growth and ultimately grow from a new engine into a Pillar of the national economy., while also "Investment in the industry will gradually diversify as the share of private and foreign capital increases". "The industry will become more and more concentrated, with the emergence of a growing number of Flagship cultural Conglomerates, which take up a large percentage of China's domestic market. China's Cultural industry will see more than 100 public companies, which will be listed in both the domestic and Overseas capital markets".


- The recent development, and further prospects for the Chinese Web Search Engine "Baidu", (a regional competitor to USA's "Google"), apparently is one among various such concrete examples...


 - Indeed, "China is currently in the process of setting up its "Dragons"", (i.e. big and innovative enough Businesses, destinated to grow in a Global World), said earlier to "EuroFora" the experienced Diplomatic Advisor of French President Hollande, Paul-Jean Ortiz, (comp. "EuroFora"s relevant NewsReport from the sidelines of the latest, October 2012 EU Summit in Brussels).

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(../..)

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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already sent earlier to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version may be published asap.

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    The incoming Swedish EU Presidency (July-December 2009) may still remain in favour of Turkey's controversial EU bid, despite June 2009 EU Elections' results, but it has "very strong demands on Turkey"'s obligation to respect EU Rules, said the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, to "EuroFora", reacting to critical Press reports.

    - "I know (that) the link is often made also to Sweden's position on Turkey"'s controversial EU bid. Indeed, "we (Swedish EU Presidency) are very much engaged in the future membership of Turkey, but not without fullfiling all the Criteria".

    - "It's very clear that we (Swedish EU Presidecny) have very Strong Demands on Turkey, in a sort of concept for Future membership of the Union, ...which will be a Long Process...", she stressed.

    This means, in particular, "the Copenhagen Criteria (on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law), and also the adaptation to the Acquis of the European Union".

     - "If you listen to what Mr. Bildt (the Swedish Foreign Minister) says on Turkey at different occasions, it's very clear : We want Turkey to become part of the Union, in the Future. But we want it to fullfil all the Criteria : The Acquis of the European Union. That's very clear", she concluded.

    The Senior Official of the Swedish Foreign Ministry was reacting to critical Press Reports, from Brussels' Journalists invited by EU Commission's secretariat to Stockholm, who claimed that Bildt was abusing of a ..."Whip" (sic !) against Cyprus, by "threatening" the presence of UNO's Peace-keeping force at the "Green line" which separates the island's Government-controlled areas from the territories occupied by Ankara's army, if Nicosia didn't accept any political solution, regardless of Turkey's demands, before the end of 2009.

        Governing AKEL Party's new Secretary General, Andros Kyprianou, reacted by declaring that no-one can threat the People of Cyprus : -"We shall decide for our Future, and nobody else",  he reportedly said, asking to "keep calm". "In order to find a Solution soon, certain basic Principles must be respected", he stressed, calling those who feel an urgency to use their influence on Turkey. Other Political Parties were more critical.

    This was a reference to recently reported statements by Turkish Minister Bagis, Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan and Turkey's National Security Council (a Military-Political body), accused to push towards a partitionist "2 States" solution, contrary to UNO SC Resolutions for Cyprus' reunification.

    December 2009 is a crucial moment for EU's appraisal of Turkey's controversial EU bid, because EU Council has decided to review then Ankara's compliance with the European position on the recognition of Cyprus' Government, which was clearly set out by an EU reply of 21 September 2005 to Turkish Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan's claims, refusing to recognize even the existence of EU Member Cyprus, in controversial statements he made to London (former EU chair) on July 29, 2005.

    EU Parliament's latest Resolution on Turkey, adopted on March 2009 in Strasbourg, warned Ankara that "the non-fulfillment of Turkey's commitments... by December 2009, may further seriously affect the process of Negotiations" with the EU.

    In practice, the issue boils down to Ankara's "embargo" against Ships and Airplanes using Cyprus' seaports or airports at the strategic EU island, which traditionaly hosts one of the World's biggest Shipping flags. EU has already "freezed" 6 relevant Chapters in EU - Turkey Negotiations since December 2006, after Ankara refused to fullfil a commitment it had undertaken when EU had decided to open controversial "accession" negotiations with Turkey, back on December 2005.

    - "As far as EU - Turkey relations are concerned, it's clear that Turkey needs to fullfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional Protocol (to "EC-Turkey Association Agreement"),  This is an important issue....and should be addresseed as soon as possible as it clearly affects the pace of the accession negotiations.Issues covered by the Declaration of September 2005 will continue to be followed up, and progress is urgently awaited", warned earlier in Strasbourg the out-going Czech EU Presidency (former vice-Prime Minister Alexander Vodra).

    But the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, Cecilia Julin, dismissed "interpretations" by "some" that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was reportedly "threatening" Cyprus with consequences on the UNFICYP, if it doesn't accept any solution until December 2009, while Turkey is reportedly delaying in an attempt to impose a partitionist "2 States" solution.

    On the contrary, Julin, stressed that "Sweden has strong demands on Turkey'"s respect of "Copenhagen Criteria and EU Acquis".

    Meanwhile, Sweden  is "concerned" about the risk of "Stalemate" in Cyprus' Talks, but is well aware that "the main responsibilities lie with the two leaders and the UNO", Europe playing only a role of "facilitator".

    After carefully verifying, the Head of Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service, stressed to "EuroFora" that Bildt's reference to UNFICYP "was not linked to a Threat", and dismissed those who "interpreted" it so.

    On the contrary, the Swedish EU Presidency acknowledged the fact that Peace Talks are mainly for the UN and the leaders of the Cypriot communities, EU's role being limited into that of a "facilitator".

    As for Turkey's reported attempts to impose a "2 States' solution", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service sharply replied by stressing that Turkey must respect the "EU Acquis" rules.

    In particular :

    - "Basically he (Bildt) underlined that it's the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the UN that have the main responsibilities for solving the problem", started to say the Swedish Senior Official to "EuroFora", referring to the above-mentioned "briefing".

    - "But the EU had a role in sort of pointing out the benefits and facilitating a little bit the outcome for the settlement of the whole Cyprus' issue", she added.

    - "And he did state the Fact, that the rest of the World (i.e. USA, etc) will, of course, look at the differend issues which are at the table, and the future of the UN Peace keeping force is part of what is at the table", she admitted.

    - "I understand that some have interpreted that as a Threat, by the Swedish Minister" "But", in reality, "it's a statement of a Fact, that, when we'll look at the differend issues, one of the issues on which we shall have to take a stand on, is the future of the UN Peace keeping force in Cyprus".

    Indeed, one of the questions usually raised for a Solution of Cyprus' issue is what International and/or European or other Guarantees, by a Peace-keeping force, might be needed afterwards, eventually for a transitory period.

    Questioned anew by "EuroFora" whether (according to critical Press Reports) this could be taken as a veiled warning that, if Cyprus didn't accept any Turkish demand for any solution whatever, it might be left alone to face Ankara's Military Invasion/Occupation, she denied :

    - "He (Bildt) didn't say it in that way"... "It was not linked to a threat, or anything like that", the Head of the Swedish Foreign Ministry's Press Service stressed.

    On the contrary, "he (Bildt) underlined that the main responsibility lies with the parties concerned on the island". "The EU can try to facilitate and show the benefits of reaching a settlement. But also, when the EU and the rest of the World (i.e. USA) will have to look at it, they will look at all the Facts on the table, and the presence of the UN Peace-keeping force is one".

    And "he (Bildt) didn't speak about that at all", she replied to "EuroFora" question on Turkey's reported attemps to impose, in one way of another, a partitionist "2 States solution".

    Asked whether Bildt's aim was to incite both parties to move forward efficiently, she agreed :

    - In fact, "the EU is really very concerned with the Stalemate in the situation. Yes !", the Head of Sweden's Foreign Ministry's Press Service anounced. That's why Bildt "was hoping for the two parties (i.e. for Turkey's also) to engage and break, a little-bit, the present stalemate, come to a solution of the issue" of Cyprus.

    But, replying  to a "EuroFora"s question on the risk, denounced by several politicians in case of strict Time Deadlines, for Turkey to provoke a stalemate and wait for the time to come to impose a partitionist "2 States' solution", she reacted by pointing at Turkey's obligation to respect "EU Acquis" :

    - "Turkey must fullfil the EU Acquis : That's clear !", the Swedish Senior Official stressed.

    More details are expected when Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt will debate his Programme with new MEPs at EU Parliament's plenary mid-July in Strasbourg, that he has visited already in 2008.

    Foreign Minister Carl Bildt became familiar with Strasbourg's CoE last year, when Sweden chaired the PanEuropean organization of Human Rights. As EU chairman-in-office, he will also chair the 27-member States strong EU Group inside the 47-member States strong CoE.

    Minister for EU affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom is well known at EU Parliament, where she has been an active MEP of the Liberal Group for many years, following also Press Freedom issues.

    Both have already made various statements at "EuroFora", on differend topical matters.

    ***

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