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Saturday 20 December  
Press Freedom Index 2010
News Desk's picture
Brussels, Belgium
Brussels, Belgium

Reporters: EU Press Freedom watchdog is bad idea

Published on : 20 January 2011 - 5:15pm | By RNW News Desk (Graphic:
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Press freedom in the Netherlands is not at risk, according to the annual Press Freedom Index.

But Reporters without Borders (RwB), which issues the ranking, is critical about the media's agreement not to publish unofficial photographs of members of the Dutch royal family.

Reporters without Borders spokesman Olivier Basille told RNW that press freedom in many European countries is slowly being eroded:

"The situation is getting worse than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Instead of protecting press freedom, we just have new registrations, new draft laws, in all the European member states today."

The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland top the the Press Freedom Index rankings; the main European culprits are Romania, Italy and Greece.

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A new media law which came into force in Hungary on 1 January led to heated discussion in Europe. A Hungarian government watchdog is has been given the power to fine journalists who fail to report "objectively" or "with moral responsibility". And that includes foreign journalists.

Dutch Euro MP Sophie in 't Veld is in favour of a Europe-wide press freedom monitor as part of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, but RwB wants nothing of the sort, Mr Basille said:

"They want to talk about press freedom, but what do they want to do? Immediately they want to 'organise' it. It is very simple to protect press freedom. It's not a good idea to organise it at the EU level, with a council, agency or organisation to check press freedom. No, you have the Fundamental Charter; article 19 says freedom of information, and freedom of getting and diffusing information, have to be guaranteed. It's very clear like that, we don't need more."

What should the European Parliament do? "Very simple,"says Mr Basille. Adopt a resolution condemning Hungary's new media laws - which would have already happened, complete with references to dictatorial tendencies, if Syria or Turkey had implemented a similar media law. "But Hungary is an EU member state, which apparently makes things a lot harder."


Listen: Olivier Basille of RWB on press freedom in the EU

Based on a report by Klaas den Tek


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