27 October 2004


Government spokesperson's statement that public service broadcasters should only have "limited freedom" worries EFJ

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a media release by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ affiliate:

Government spokesperson's statement that public service broadcasters should only have "limited freedom" worries EFJ

EFJ Condemns Attack on Press Freedom and Public Service Broadcasting by Portuguese Authorities

In a motion adopted by its Steering Committee on Monday, the European Federation of Journalists condemned the will of the Portuguese Spokesman of the government to apply "limited liberties" to journalists.

The EFJ expressed its concern over public statements by the Portuguese government intending to change media regulations and to replace the High Authority for Social Communication with a new regulatory body in the absence of a public debate. Even more worrying are the declarations by Mr. Morais Sarmento, the Minister responsible for media policy and spokesman of the Government, who said that public service broadcasters should only have a "limited freedom".

"These declarations sound from another age", said EFJ Chair Arne König. "Every politician, every journalist and every citizen in Europe knows that it is not the role of governments to tell journalists how to do their job. The EFJ is worried about the will of the Portuguese authorities to manipulate public service media and undermine journalist's professional standards".

The EFJ Steering Committee called on the Portuguese Government to immediately stop its programme and any other actions to restrict freedom of expression, and declared its support of a media regulatory body independent and free of Government interference to be set-up in consultation with unions and civil society groups. It called on the Government and all deputies to undertake a full public debate about the attributions, competence and composition of the proposed new media regulatory authority.

"All over Europe we see an increasing level of media concentration that puts public service values and independence at risk, with the complicity of the governments", said Arne König. "The EFJ calls on all journalists organisations to reinforce their fight against undue pressure, both political and commercial", he said.

The EFJ expresses its full solidarity with the Union of Journalists of Portugal for defence of journalists' rights.

The EFJ represents more than 200,000 journalists in over 40 countries.

To view this statement online please click here: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=2762&Language=EN


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