Media pluralism

Reading list


  • Council of Europe, European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).
    The Charter seeks to protect and promote the use of regional and minority languages in a variety of settings. Article 11 calls on states to facilitate the use of regional and minority languages in radio, television and the press.
  • Council of Europe, European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
    The ECHR is a treaty to protect human rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 10. The European Court of Human Rights adjudicates on complaints relating to the ECHR. Its case law on Article 10 is highly influential in spelling out media pluralism-related human rights standards for the Council of Europe region.
  • Council of Europe, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).
    The Framework Convention is a treaty dedicated to the protection of minority rights. It puts forward a number of principles and objectives that States must realize through national laws and policies in order to provide effective protection of national minorities. Article 6 emphasises the need to promote intercultural tolerance, dialogue and respect. Article 7 enshrines the right to freedom of expression of persons belonging to national minorities. Article 9 stresses that national minorities shall not be discriminated in their access to media.
  • European Union, Consolidated text of Directive 2010/13/EU and amending Directive 2018/1808 (Audiovisual Media Services Directive).
    The AVMSD lays down rules aiming to protect a free and pluralistic audiovisual media environment in the EU.
  • European Union, Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the EC Merger Regulation).
    The EC Merger Regulation prohibits mergers and acquisitions, including in the media sector, that would significantly reduce competition in the EU’s internal market.
  • European Union, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a common framework for media services in the internal market (European Media Freedom Act) and amending Directive 2010/13/EU.
    The EMFA proposal aims to promote cross-EU standards for media services, including consistent approaches to media pluralism. Among others, the Commission proposes to introduce safeguards against state interference with editorial decisions, ownership transparency requirements, harmonized rules to assess concentration in the media market, safeguards for the independence of public service media, transparency and anti-discrimination rules for state financing.
  • European Union, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
    Articles 101-109 of the TFEU contain relevant EU competition rules, that aim to prevent market concentration, abuse of dominant position and state aid, including in the media sector.


  • Verein Alternatives Lokalradio Bern & Verein Radio Dreyeckland Basel v. Switzerland, Inadmissibility decision, No. 10746/84, 16 October 1986.
    A broadcast licensing system that does not respect the requirements of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness would infringe Article 10 ECHR. In particular, licensing decisions that effectively deprive a considerable part of inhabitants of a state from receiving content in their mother tongue, raise problems from the perspective of Article 10 and 14 ECHR.
  • Informationsverein Lentia and Others v. Austria, 24 November 1993, Series A no. 276.
    States are the ultimate guarantors of the pluralism. A state monopoly on broadcasting is a serious restriction on Article 10 ECHR.
  • Bowman v. the United Kingdom, 19 February 1998, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1998-I.
    It is particularly important that a diverse range of information and ideas can circulate freely prior to elections.
  • Khurshid Mustafa and Tarzibachi v. Sweden, no. 23883/06, 16 December 2008.
    For immigrants, receiving television programmes from their native country is of particular importance in order to maintain contact with their native culture and language. Restricting this could amount to an infringement on their right to receive information.
  • Manole and Others v. Moldova, no. 13936/02, 17 September 2009.
    There can be no democracy without pluralism. The state has a positive obligation to ensure that the public has access to “impartial and accurate information and a range of opinion and comment, reflecting inter alia the diversity of political outlook”, and that journalists are not prevented from imparting this information.
  • Centro Europe 7 S.R.L. and Di Stefano v. Italy [GC], no. 38433/09, 7 June 2012.
    For a pluralist media environment, it is not sufficient to provide the theoretical possibility for media providers to enter the market, but effective access to the audiovisual market should be facilitated.
  • Nit S.R.L. v. The Republic of Moldova, [GC], no. 28470/12, 5 April 2022.
    Internal and external pluralism should be considered in combination with one another. There are various different strategies to achieve overall content diversity, Article 10 does not impose one particular strategy.

Policy instruments

  • Council of Europe – Recommendation CM/Rec(2013)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on gender equality and media, 10 July 2013.
    This Recommendation notes the close interlinkage between media freedom and gender equality, and advocates for equal access to and representation in media for men and women, in particular in public service media.
  • Council of Europe – Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership, 7 March 2018.
    This Recommendation stresses the importance of media pluralism, and advocates for a favourable environment for public debate, diversity of media content, transparency of media ownership and media literacy.
  • Council of Europe – Declaration by the Committee of Ministers on the financial sustainability of quality journalism in the digital age, 13 February 2019.
    This Declaration notes the transformation of the economic reality of journalism, and calls for a variety of financial support measures for media.
  • Council of Europe – Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)4 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on promoting a favourable environment for quality journalism in the digital age, 17 March 2022.
    This Recommendation provides guidelines in respect of the promotion of quality journalism in the digital age, focusing on issues such as sustainable funding and support, journalistic ethics and self-regulation, and media literacy. Among others, the Recommendation emphasises that “sufficient variety in the overall range of media types” should be ensured in order to provide a favourable social and political environment for quality journalism.
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – Guidelines on the Use of Minority Languages in the Broadcast Media, 10 October 2003.
    These Guidelines provide practical guidance to states regarding the use of minority languages in media. The Guidelines stress that states should ensure that persons belonging to minority groups can maintain and develop their distinct cultural and linguistic identities through the use of their languages in broadcast media.
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe – Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age, 1 February 2019.
    These Guidelines advocate for the implementation of policies and strategies that enables persons belonging to national minorities to take advantage of their communication rights in the digital media environment.
  • UNESCO – Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, 20 October 2005.
    The Convention aims to support conditions that allows a diversity of cultures and cultural expressions to flourish. The Convention reaffirms that media diversity is a necessary pre-condition for cultural diversity.

Literature & commentary

  • P. Barwise & L. Watkins, ‘The Evolution of Digital Dominance: How and Why We Got to GAFA’ in M. Moore & D. Tambini (eds.), Digital Dominance: The Power of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 21-49.
    Barwise and Watkins provide a concise overview of the rise to dominance of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (known as GAFAM). The authors explore the dynamics that sustain the monopolistic market positions of these companies and reflect on whether the digital dominance of GAFAM can be challenged in the foreseeable future.
  • E. Brogi, e.a., ‘EU and media policy: conceptualising media pluralism in the era of online platforms. The experience of the Media Pluralism Monitor’ in P. L. Parcu & E. Brogi (eds.), Research Handbook on EU Media Law and Policy, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021, pp. 16-31.
    In this chapter, Brogi et al. reflect on the challenges of measuring and operationalising media pluralism. The authors take as their point of departure the established methodology of the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) that measures media pluralism as a combination of fundamental protection, market plurality, political independence and social inclusiveness. The authors analyse how digital transformations have elicited a reconceptualization of media pluralism in the MPM.
  • R. Craufurd Smith, B. Klimkiewicz & A. Ostling, ‘Media ownership transparency in Europe: Closing the gap between European aspiration and domestic reality’, European Journal of Communication, 36(6), 2021, pp. 547-562.
    In this article, Craufurd Smith et al. examine the state of media ownership transparency in 30 European countries. According to the authors, while ambitious, detailed international guidelines have been established in the field of media ownership transparency, national implementations are often inadequate. The authors argue that a coordinated, multi-actor approach is necessary to translate international standards into national practice.
  • M. Dragomir, ‘Control the money, control the media: How government uses funding to keep media in line’, Journalism, 19(8), 2018, pp. 1131-1148.
    Dragomir examines trends of governments taking advantage of funding in order to capture media. The author distinguishes between four financial strategies for media capture: (1) abuse of public funding to influence editorial line of public media, (2) biased allocation of state advertising to government friendly media, (3) biased allocation of state subsidies to government friendly media, (4) disrupting the media market through biased tax regimes.
  • N. Helberger, ‘Challenging Diversity – Social Media Platforms and a New Conception of Media Diversity’ in M. Moore & D. Tambini (eds.), Digital Dominance: The Power of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 153-175.
    In this chapter, Helberger reflects on the impacts of social media platforms and their dominance on media diversity. She argues that the core source of ‘platform power’ is the ability of social media platforms to influence how people engage with information which has far-reaching implications for media diversity and media diversity policy.
  • N. Helberger, ‘Public service media – merely facilitating or actively stimulating diverse media choices? public service media at the crossroad’ International Journal of Communication, 9, 2015, pp. 1324-1340.
    In this article, Helberger explores the role of public service media in stimulating exposure to diverse media content. The author argues that new technologies such as profiling and targeting should be used by public service media to promote citizens’ engagement with diverse media content, but this use of new technologies should be accompanied by a strong commitment to algorithmic media ethics.
  • N. Helberger, K. Karppinen & L. D’Acunto, ‘Exposure diversity as a design principle for recommender systems’, Information, Communication & Society, 21(2), 2018, pp. 191-207.
    The article explores how algorithmic recommender systems could be designed to promote diverse information. The authors argue that different normative conceptions of exposure diversity necessitate different design principles for diversity-oriented recommender systems. Media law and policy could have an important role in promoting diversity by design, but potential ethical implications need to be taken into account.
  • B. Klimkiewicz, ‘Community and minority media: “the third sector” in European policies and Media Pluralism Monitor’ in P. L. Parcu & E. Brogi (eds.), Research Handbook on EU Media Law and Policy, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021, pp. 383-396.
    In this chapter, Klimkiewicz analyses European policies and national trends in respect of minority media and minorities’ access to mainstream media. She demonstrates that on national levels, challenges remain to minorities and media, and calls for more recognition, access and support in order to foster thriving minority media.
  • T. McGonagle, ‘Representation of Minorities: Rights of Access’, in Media and Human Rights, Clemens Nathan Research Centre, 2009, pp. 106-126.
    In this chapter, McGonagle examines the Council of Europe’s approach to the promotion of minorities’ rights of access to the media. He analyses relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), and demonstrates how the three treaties usefully complement one another in order to substantiate and operationalise minorities’ right to freedom of expression.
  • T. McGonagle, ‘The State and beyond: activating (non-)media voices’, in Helena Sousa et al. (eds.), Media Policy and Regulation: Activating Voices, Illuminating Silences, Braga, Portugal, Communication and Society Research Centre, University of Minho, 2014, pp. 187-198.
    McGonagle critically analyses the role of the State in activating a diverse range of voices in public debate. In particular, the author reflects on ‘non-media voices’, such as NGOs, whistleblowers or bloggers, and argues that States are under a positive obligation to take proactive steps to promote these voices, given their crucial contributions to a pluralistic public debate.
  • P. M. Napoli, ‘Deconstructing the diversity principle’, Journal of communication, 49(4), 1999, pp. 7-34.
    In this article, Napoli unravels different components and subcomponents of diversity in communications policy. The author reflects on source diversity, content diversity and exposure diversity, and the complex relationship between the three. Napoli argues that a multi-dimensional approach to diversity should be adopted in communications research and policy.
  • P. M. Napoli, ‘Social media and the public interest: Governance of news platforms in the realm of individual and algorithmic gatekeepers’, Telecommunications Policy, 39(9), 2015, pp 751-760.
    Napoli analyses how the public interest guides the production, dissemination and consumption of information on social media platforms. He argues that public interest values inadequately shape information flows in the context of online platforms which is problematic in light of their role in the contemporary media ecosystem.  
  • P. L. Parcu, ‘New digital threats to media pluralism in the information age’, Competition and regulation in network industries, 21(2), 2020, pp. 91-109.
    In this article, Parcu examines two digital threats to media pluralism: the concentration of financial resources in a few online platforms, and the  pollution of the information ecosystem with disinformation that is facilitated by technological instruments. The author argues that self-regulatory responses from technology companies are insufficient to address these issues, and public policy needs to intervene by updating competition rules, promitng digital media literacy efforts, and creating viable business models for investigative journalism.  
  • A. Schiffrin (ed.), ‘In the Service of Power: Media Capture and the Threat to Democracy’, Center for International Media Assistance, 2017.
    This edited volume includes a collection of essays on media capture. The authors explore the concept of media capture, trends in media capture in various countries, the role of digital transformations in media capture, and possible solutions to tackle media capture.  

Studies and reports

  • European Commission – Study on Media Plurality and Diversity Online, 2022.
    The study analyses the European regulatory framework and business practices in relation to the prominence and discoverability of general interest content online, and the concentration of economic resources in the media sector.
  • Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – Spotlight on Artificial Intelligence and Freedom of Expression, A Policy Manual, 2021.
    This policy manual provides in-depth analysis of the impact of artificial intelligence on freedom of expression, and puts forward human rights-driven guidelines for regulatory responses that address challenges to freedom of expression in the digital age. One of the main focuses of the manual is the use of AI in content curation and personalisation and their impact on media pluralism.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – Competition issues concerning news media and digital platforms, OECD Competition Committee Discussion Paper, 2021.
    This discussion paper analyses the market power of digital platforms in the media sector, and their competitive relationship with news media. The paper also explores European regulatory initiatives and enforcement efforts to address the power imbalance between digital platforms and news media.
  • Council of Europe – Prioritisation Uncovered: The Discoverability of Public Interest Content Online, DGI(2020)19, 2020.
    This study analyses issues relating to the prioritisation of public interest content online. It explores relevant industry practices, the corresponding regulatory framework, and emerging concerns including those relating to media pluralism.
  • Media Development Investment Fund – Media Capture in Europe, 2019.
    This report deconstructs the concept of media capture and identifies four key components: regulatory capture, control of public service media, use of state financing as a control tool, and ownership takeover. The report presents case-studies of Hungary and the Czech Republic in order to illustrate how media capture has different flavours in different national contexts.
  • European Audiovisual Observatory – The independence of media regulatory authorities in Europe, IRIS Special 2019-1, 2019.
    This study focuses on the independence of national media regulatory authorities. It outlines the relevant legal and policy framework of the Council of Europe and the European Union, the criteria to assess the independence of media regulatory authorities, and the state of play in a number of European countries.
  • High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism, European Commission – A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy, 2013.
    This report, prepared by the EU’s High Level Group on Media Pluralism and Freedom, puts forward recommendations for the promotion of media freedom and pluralism in Europe, in areas including competition law, media literacy, journalistic self-regulation, funding of journalism, and ownership transparency. The report also explores the distribution of relevant competences between Member States and the EU. 
  • Center for International Media Assistance – Calling the Shots: How Ownership Structures Affect the Independence of News Media, 2012.
    This report connects the concept of media ownership with media pluralism, outlining how different media ownership structures affect media independence and pluralism. The report presents in-depth case-study analyses of media ownership structures in the United States, China, Serbia and Honduras, in order to illustrate the multitude of ways ownership structures can have adverse (intended or unintended) effects on media pluralism.
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism – News Plurality in a Digital World, 2012.
    This report discusses the role of new digital intermediaries, including social networks, search engines and app stores, in the media ecosystem. The report analyses the impact of digital intermediaries on news plurality from four perspectives: editorial judgment, access control, news economics and political influence.

Other materials and resources

  • Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, European University Institute – Media Pluralism Monitor.
    The MPM is an instrument co-founded by the European Union that measures levels of risk to media pluralism in European countries. The MPM publishes annual reports, analysing risks to media pluralism in four areas: Fundamental Protection, Market Plurality, Political Independence, and Social Inclusiveness.
  • JEMIE (Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe) – Special Issue 4/2013: ‘Freedom of Expression of Minorities in the Digital Age’.
    This special issue includes a collection of articles relating to minorities and freedom of expression. The articles touch on issues relating to the communication rights of minorities online, the use of minority languages in media, and media consumption and representation of diasporic minorities and migrant workers.
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, High Commissioner on National Minorities – Explanimation: Minorities and the media, 2019.
    This short video summarises the key points of the Tallinn Guidelines on National Minorities and the Media in the Digital Age, adopted by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities.
  • Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Digital News Report.
    The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism publishes annual reports on how news is consumed in a range of countries. Country reports summarise annual trends in national media markets, and present data on the most used sources of news, the levels of trust in various news outlets, and the most popular devices and applications for news consumption.