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EAVI report on viewers´ protection in six countries
Denmark ranks first in Europe as relates to viewers’ protection tools. The data is contained in the report “Broadcasting and Citizens. Viewers’ participation and media accountability in Europe” recently released by the European Association for Viewers Interest (EAVI) an independent body supported by and cooperating with the European Commission, the Council of Europe and Unesco. According to the research, “European countries acknowledge the important role played by the media”. It is therefore necessary to ensure that especially the youth can access “information and programmes” aimed at promoting its “social, spiritual and moral well-being, along with its physical and mental health”. This is also the objective of EAVI and of its information and media literacy awareness programs, designed to enable its users to undertake a critical analysis of the media realm. Follows an overview of viewers’ protection systems in six EU countries, contained in the report.
France. The defence of the French TV viewer’s rights oscillates between regulation and self-regulation. Operators themselves elaborate and apply a code of conduct, although its implementation is assured by the Conséil Superieur l’Audiovisuel (CSA), which, by virtue of a state law, can intervene to sanction TV channels that broadcast violent or pornographic audiovisual content. There are a large amount of associations for the defence of the consumer, notably adolescents and youth. However, state the authors of the Report, “they are unknown to the general public”. CIEM, in particular, is an association for the protection of minors, which intends to create a monitoring network.
Spain. The period ensuing the 2004 general elections “saw the rebirth of the national broadcasting service” that is progressing into a general reform of the television broadcasting system. Autonomous communities, with their own regional Councils for viewers’ protection, enjoy remarkable freedom. 17 viewers’ associations are represented by FIATYR (Iberian Federation of viewers and listeners) that includes also certain Portuguese associations. Its initiatives include, inter alia, training courses to counter the negative effects of the media on minors, and to “train” teachers on the educational potentials of the media.
Germany. A massive offer of channels and programs for a TV “market” that is the most competitive in Europe, but also one of the most “fragmented”, according to the survey. Each Länder can decide on the presence of public service broadcasters however, “Viewer organisations in the literal sense do not exist in Germany”. Nonetheless all networks are compelled to appoint a person responsible for youth protection who takes part in programmes’ production and purchase process. Remarkable elements include Flimmo, a programme consultation for and “Red card” against violence in the media .
United Kingdom. In January 2007 OFCOM (Office of Communication) received 44.500 complaints on the fifth season of Big Brother. Monitoring bodies include the Voice of Listener & Viewer (VLV), that managed to “convince” major television networks to broadcast programmes for children and religion programs during prime-time, the Consumers Association (CA) also present at national level, counts 700thousand members and the National Consumer Council. Recently, BBC created a link for communication with authors and producers.
Denmark. There are three public bodies dealing with supervision/control that viewers, citizens and social groups can directly file their complaints to. These are: The Press Council, the Consumer ombudsman and The Radio &TV Board. Numerous Associations are actively engaged within civil society such as ARF (33thousand registered members), KLF (40thousand), a Christian viewers’ association, “with the main focus on the protection of minors and the increase of children’s media competence” and the newly-created Catholic association KMU. Finally, The Media Council for Children and Young People consists of pedagogists and youth psychologists charged with laying down criteria for classification of films, establishing contact and dialogue with TV stations.
Portugal. TV viewers’ associations in Portugal have obtained “significant results”, according to the report. Two associations, ACMedia and ATV, are actively engaged in media monitoring. The consumer protection associations provide the guidelines on the most relevant themes. In 1989 Pùblico, an important daily newspaper, launched a project for schools – that is ongoing still today - to encourage the use of social communications media as a pedagogical tool through forms of cooperation between the media and education with support material for teachers.