26 September 2023

LITHUANIA: Public media ‘essential for democracy’

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The Council of Europe and the European Broadcasting Union have re-asserted their commitment to the important role public service media plays in supporting strong democracies.

A joint conference, Public Service Media for Democracy, hosted by Lithuanian broadcaster, LRT at the Parliament in Vilnius, declared that freedom of expression and information was one of the essential foundations of a democratic society.

Even so, the 200 delegates, attending either in person or online, expressed concern that the independence of the media was increasingly eroded across Europe, with the physical safety of journalists coming under threat.

Director General of the European Broadcasting Union, Noel Curran said media freedom and sustainable public service media had been high on the agenda of the Council of Europe for many years.

“The standards they developed have been fundamental for setting the framework for public broadcasters in many countries and we are grateful for their ongoing collaboration,” Mr Curran said.

“For public service media to thrive, we need a commitment from member States on media freedom, especially online, and we count on the Council of Europe to continue its vital work to protect democracy and the rule of law.”

Director General of LRT, Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė said it was crucial that Europe’s public service broadcasters became more resilient to political pressures, market challenges and increasing hostility towards the media.

“This conference was an opportunity to talk about national commitments to public service broadcasters, best practices in governance and transparency,” Ms Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė (pictured) said.

Head of the Council of Europe’s Department of Information Society, Patrick Penninckx said if public service media was to enjoy more trust from the public, States needed to incorporate basic conditions of independence, sustainability, governance and remit in their regulatory frameworks — and implement them in practice.

Vilnius, 25 November 2022

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