Tag Archives: media

Good news from the European Parliament

Just a short update on two issues that have also been discussed on this blog:

1. What happened with the “Telecoms Package” (that I have mentioned here and here)? It seems that most of the worrying amendments regarding copyright issues (especially the three strikes approach) were not adopted by the European Parliament. A detailed analysis by La Quadrature du Net will be published in the next days. However, it was an impressive example of digital citizen lobbyism. If you read German head over to netzpolitik.org and heise.deEurActiv has a long and rather general article on the whole initiative. But it is true: the Internet is rather quiet about this success in the European Parliament as A Fistful of Euros notes. Bashing the EU is much easier, I guess.

2. And what about the mysterious “blogger regulation” of Marianne Mikko … that actually never really existed in the first place? Well, it was not adopted by the European Parliament (or rather not included in the EP resolution). For more details check out EUobserver and Julien Frisch.

European Parliament votes on ‘Telecoms’ package this Wednesday!

The first reading of the so-called Telecoms Package will take place this Wednesday at 11h30am in the European Parliament. The main problem with the directive is the following: Originally the initiative aimed at regulating the market of  telecommunication companies but, due to some intense lobbying by some big media companies,  it now also contains proposals regarding some very controversial copyright issues. Le laquadrature du Net has a good summary of all developments surrounding this initiative.  The following  amendments contain some problematic provisions such as:

Feel free to join the campaign that lobbies for a more open internet. All updates can be found here and as a RSS feed here. (everything is also available in French, German and Spanish). They also provide you with important lobbying advices for the remaining 24 hours before the vote: a very helpful example of a phone conversation with an MEP, a list of ‘incorrect’ arguments, and obviously some nice blog banners:

Save the European Net !

European Youth Media Days 2008

This looks like an interesting event for journalists and bloggers. At the moment the programme looks still a bit general, but who knows, maybe it turns out to be exciting … Here is the official announcement:

“Shape the future of European journalism”

“New media. Open minds. From 15 to 17 October 2008, the next generation of European journalists meets at the European Parliament in Brussels for the second edition of the European Youth Media Days. The gathering of 200 emerging journalists, hosted by the European Parliament and organised with the support of the European Youth Press, promotes a broad discussion and networking on European issues, confronting and provoking with diverse perspectives and realities. Apply until 24 September on youthmediadays.eu.”

Check the programme here.

Marianne Mikko and the Blogs – Reloaded

Does anyone remember this story? The European Parliament was accused of trying to regulate blogs… of course this was not really the case. Basically Marianne Mikko (MEP) did not understand blogging and made some strange recommendation in a EP resolution (which has no legal weight whatsoever!).

Anyway, today the EUobserver reports that this story has also arrived in Sweden:

Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.

Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people’s daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nikolae Ceausescu.

The article makes some good reading if you are interested in

a) How long it takes for a topic to spread across Europe… The whole issue came up more than a month ago! Another interesting thing is how the story was transformed … the ‘first’ debate a month ago was about a “quality mark and some disclosure remarks”; now the Swedish debate was about EU  plans to “register and bill all bloggers”.

b) How national and European debates mix. The new surveillance legislation in Sweden is of course a good context for the blog topic, although both originated within different policy areas. However, it seems to me that the bigger scandal is indeed the new Swedish law…

c) A bold political statement: “She has a hole in her head”

d) More proofs that blogging and presumably the Internet are not properly understood … In the words of Ms Mikko: “The Economist is a valuable brand, its articles are trusted by readers without contributors having to reveal their names,” she said. “If there is a way to validate the best bloggers the same way that publishing in the Economist validates its writers, it should be done.”

A Northern Perspective offers an explanation why we see this kind of debate in Sweden:

A combination of  a lack knowledge of how the EU works, British type tabloid sensationalism and the hidden agenda of a certain group of so-called liberals can make wonders in influencing the public opinion, a very useful thing in these days when the future of the Union is very much at stake.

Generation Web 0.0

Slightly off-topic and unfortunately only in German. Here is a very interesting article on the attitudes of the German elite regarding Internet, new technologies and web 2.0. One example is the German Minster for Economics and Technology (!) Michael Glos who is not too keen about the fuzz on lifelong learning:

Using a mobile phone is already complicated. Thank god I have staff that use the Internet for me.

(He actually made this statement during his visit at the CeBIT, the biggest computer expo in the world…)

Conclusion: The digital divide is not only a problem in the Global south, lifelong learning is unknown to its promoters and we found an explanation for all these controversial policies regarding intellectual property and other Internet related issues.

I am also wondering if similar attitudes exist in the EU institutions….?

Participate in the EU-Africa Summit!

…ok, not physically but virtually (thanks to web 2.0)! During my work on a policy briefing I came across this page. The first impression you get (especially as a wordpress user) is that of another blog, but after a while you realise it: This is an official (online) consultation process initiated by the EU and the AU (African Union) to prepare a joint strategy to be adopted at the second Euro-Africa Summit which will take place in Lisbon at the end of 2007. Interestingly, this official consultation is designed pretty much like a blog, with a wordpress blog design, rss feeds and the possibility to comment on every part of the joint strategy (that includes shared vision, governance issues, key development issues (such as Financial and External debt, Migration, Socio-economic development and Infrastructure), trade & regional integration, peace & security).

So what can we make out of this? Of course this is an excellent idea how to involve a wide range of people and civil society organisations in a process like this. (I wonder if the EU could not introduce this model for the ‘usual’ consultation processes.) No doubt, relations between the EU and Africa need to be strengthened and a shared strategy seems to be a useful thing. But it is also true that the topic is far to broad, a shared vision of Europe and Africa is somewhat very ambitious. The organisers also present a timeline of consultations that will eventually allow people to discuss more detailed topics, so there is something to look forward to.

Nevertheless, this promise has been made:

The European and African experts will meet in an EU-Africa expert meeting on the 19-23 of February, where they will start to discuss the content of the joint strategy. Since we want to ensure an optimal linkage between the public debate and the official negotiation, we will submit the initial comments and ideas presented on the web site to the official negotiators at the end of next week. The same will be done for future official expert meetings (see calendar and timeline of the consultation for details): we will submit each time a short summary of your comments and contributions to the experts

It also remains to be seen how the comments will be used in the EU-AU negotiations and how short these ‘summaries’ will be in the end. I hope the process is that transparent that we eventually see also these summaries. But then again, the consultation does not seem to be very popular: 2060 visitors and only 35 comments during one week (which should not be too difficult to summarise …. unless some more comments are made in the next days and months!!).

Orson Welles in Belgium

It is still working! 68 years after the original radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. Listen to the original here: RTBF, a Belgian public television station repeated the exercise. This time without aliens invading planet earth but with the political destruction of Belgium. In the version of (french-speaking) RTBF, Flanders, the dutch speaking region declared unilaterally its independence. According to newspaper reports 89% of the viewers believed the hoax which is of course the result of two years of preparation. Even international media (BBC, The Independent, Spiegel) reported about this rather special TV event.

Obviously, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt was not amused and was quoted with this statement:

In the current context, it’s irresponsible for a public television channel to announce the end of Belgium as a reality presented by genuine journalists.

But the truth is that Belgium has a huge unresolved problem regarding its federal structure and the two biggest language communities. Vlaams Belang, a nationalist/conservative/xenophob party (Slogan in the last election campaign: “Secure, Flemish, Liveable”) has been very successful in the last years promoting Flemish independence and managed to double its seats in local municipalities from 439 to 800 in the 2006 elections being now one of the biggest parties in Belgium.

But thanks to the ‘cordon sanitaire’ of the other parties a public discourse about this issue is still a taboo. Maybe the brave journalists really get a public debate started that helps to reunite the French and the Dutch communities….well, wishful thinking I suppose.