If the mass media is dominated by a few corporations, the risk for bias and interference with editorial independence increases.

Thomas Hammarberg, Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe. Public service media needed to strengthen pluralism.

Hammarberg writes:

Media pluralism is necessary for the development of informed societies where different voices can be heard. However, in several European countries there is little genuine media freedom and therefore limited space for pluralism. Independent television and radio channels are denied licences, and critical newspapers are prevented from buying newsprint or distributing their papers.

Other state controls are more discrete. By buying advertising space solely in “loyal” media, governments can signal to businesses to follow their lead, which means that independent media are effectively boycotted. The increase in bureaucratic harassment and administrative discrimination is also of concern.

Of course, a million blogs aside, mainstream media consolidation is accelerating globally. And, of course, with deference to our Italian friends, let’s not forget that Silvio Berlusconi was the largest shareholder of the largest television station while prime minister.

And then there’s Russia and its very… um… troubling media environment.

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