The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, ELIAMEP, organised a MEDIADEM panel at the 2012 Halki International Seminar ‘Conflict prevention – Media and South Eastern Europe: Progress or regression?’, which took place on 7-10 June in Halki, Greece. The seminar allowed around 40 participants, mainly journalists, academics and members of civil society and professional associations, to reflect upon the role of the media in South Eastern Europe and their potential contribution to conflict prevention. The MEDIADEM panel entitled ‘Mass media, economic power and political control: trends in 2000-2012’ addressed the challenges on media freedom and independence in Turkey, Romania, Greece and Croatia. The panel was chaired by Paolo Mancini, Professor of Sociology of Communication at the University of Perugia.

The panel started with a brief introduction to the MEDIADEM project, its scope, objectives and methodology by Evangelia Psychogiopoulou, the scientific coordinator of the MEDIADEM project and research fellow at ELIAMEP. Dilek Kurban, Director of the Democratization Program at Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, then discussed the main challenges facing media freedom in Turkey and the legal constraints imposed on what the media can publish, with a focus on the tension between criminal laws regulating anti-terrorism and freedom of expression. The impact of the close relations between the state and powerful media outlets on media independence were also analysed in detail. The presentation of Christian Mititelu, former head of BBC Romania and member of the National Audiovisual Council of Romania, dealt with the structure of media ownership and its effects on pluralism and media freedom. The limited degree of transparency in media ownership and in the provision of funds to the media was also addressed. On her part, Evangelia Psychogiopoulou, talked about the institutional structures available for the design and implementation of the Greek media policy, and the principal characteristics of the media regulatory framework. The particularistic relationships between the political system and the media, and the complexity of the rules enacted were considered to undermine the independence of the media. The final presentation was that of Nada Švob-Đokić, senior research advisor at the Institute for International Relations in Zagreb, who talked about the current situation of the Croatian public service broadcaster, the Croatian Radio Television, in the light of the announced changes of the Croatian Radio and Television Act.

The panel’s presentations were followed by lively discussion in which speakers and the attendees exchanged opinions and views on the constraints impacting independent media operation in the various countries under examination.

See the agenda of the workshop and the list of participants.