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Freedom on the Net 2013

October 3, 2013

Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.

Media Access and Policy

Mapping Digital Media: Czech Republic

September 1, 2013

In the Czech Republic, digital switch-over of television was completed in 2012, bringing expanded choice and services to the majority of households that rely on the terrestrial platform. It followed a transition period in which political stagnation and conflict among regulatory authorities impeded the development of a clear legislative framework and delayed digitization by almost a decade.Since the completion of the digital switch-over, media policy has fallen further down the list of political priorities. While this has enhanced the autonomy of regulators to some extent, it has also left a policy vacuum in key areas that warrant intervention.Overall, neither the digital switch-over nor the development of online platforms has diversified the overall news offer in a substantive and meaningful way. Competition in digital terrestrial television—still the dominant news platform—has stagnated, while both print media and new citizen journalist initiatives are facing a crisis of funding that has transcended the economic downturn. As a result, there has been a marked, if varying, trend toward tabloidization and a pressing need to sustain outposts of serious and quality news in all sectors.

Mapping Digital Media: Slovakia

July 1, 2013

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.There have been waves of change in the provision of news and information services in Slovakia in recent years. Digitization has been variously implicated as a cause, catalyst, or coincidence of such change. Some of the developments have been to the benefit of both consumers and citizens while others have come at a substantial cost to them. In this context, the most definable and singular event was the digital switch-over of television, completed in 2012.However, there remains an urgent need for reform in a number of areas. A renewed policy focus is warranted in order to meet the continuing and evolving challenges that digital media pose to the provision of accessible, sustainable, independent, diverse, and good-quality news.Media effectiveness and quality depend directly on the legislative environment, which is why this report calls on government and parliament to uphold the public interest and the rules of fair economic competition over the political and economic interests of particular stakeholders. Regulatory bodies should respect the same principle, and prioritize professional over political criteria in personnel appointments.

Mapping Digital Media: Slovenia

August 5, 2012

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Transition to digital broadcasting has been relatively fast and painless for Slovenia from a technical perspective, as has the spread of digital media more broadly. With the second-highest penetration of IPTV in Europe, it appears that the Slovenian population has keenly embraced new media platforms at the expense of radio, newspapers, and satellite TV. But the changes and implications for media diversity and society more broadly have stopped short of anything that could be considered a digital revolution. Key challenges remain,particularly in securing a sustainable future for the quality news sector.From a consumer and citizen's perspective, digitization has succeeded in expanding the quantity and accessibility of news and information, but not the quality and diversity of content. In combination with the lingering effects of the financial crisis, the independent performance of the media at large is under threat. This remains the over-arching challenge for policymakers.

Mapping Digital Media: Poland

July 6, 2012

The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs.Digital switch-over of terrestrial broadcasting in Poland may still be almost a year away, but the lead-up and preparations to it have shed light on the most entrenched problems facing the country's public service broadcasters.This study of the impact of digitization on Polish media highlights the delays in digitization caused by political infighting; the lack of technical and financial assistance to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society benefit from digitization and new media; and the funding crisis afflicting public broadcasting. The political and economic position of the public broadcaster is critical in the digitization of broadcasting in Poland, both because of its continued—albeit diminishing—role in the media market, and because of its extensive involvement in the preparations for the switch-over.The authors of this report assess that the initiatives to inform the public about how digitization will affect them have been insufficient. Appropriate provisions should swiftly be put in place. Other major recommendations include a revision of spectrum allocation criteria to improve access for those "third way" broadcasters such as religious, educational, civil society or local government outlets, and the need for a durable solution to the public broadcasting funding crisis.

Mapping Digital Media: Hungary

January 5, 2012

Examines trends in media consumption; digital media's effects on public service broadcasters, journalism, and civic activism; trends in digital technology and business; and new media regulations' impact on freedom of expression. Makes recommendations.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Access and Policy

Television Across Europe: More Channels, Less Independence: Follow-Up Reports 2008

February 28, 2009

Documents trends among public service and commercial broadcasters and in regulation, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. Considers how the Internet, electronic media, and new modes of journalism are transforming television. Makes recommendations.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

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