How can the editorial content of a newspaper be protected against the interference of the owner?
Should the readers/listeners/viewers/internet users be informed if a company quoted in an article belongs to the same group as the newspaper or television channel?
Do the news media have specific tools and clear procedures to manage potential political or economic conflicts of interest?
De Standaard : No conflicts
There are no real conflicts of interest between the newspaper and its owner as the owner is a group that only operates within the media, in all formats. An in-depth study by the De Standaard mediator regarding television coverage showed that there was no change in tone or content in De Standaard articles whether they referred to channels belonging to the Media Huis group or to rival channels.
However, it is difficult for journalists to work on subjects that directly concern them as salaried members of the group. The restructuring plan in 2013 was difficult to cover.
Europe 1 : Information not available
France 24 : Not applicable
Le Monde : There are various measures
If a member of the monitoring committee is named in an article, their position at the heart of the newspaper is clarified.
If a group which is part of Le Monde is quoted in an article, we indicate its structural links with the newspaper.
However, nothing is specified regarding advertising or commercial agreements.
Ouest France : This does not happen
The owner of the title is a group specialising in media.
Berliner Zeitung : Relationships are openly acknowledged
If one of the owners of the newspaper is named in an article, their links with the newspaper organisation are usually mentioned.
ZDF : Possibility of legal action
ZDF is a company subject to public law, under the responsibility of the sixteen Länder making up the Federal German Republic. TV and radio broadcasting freedom inscribed in the Grundgesetz (constitution) has the value of a public freedom and TV-radio broadcasting organisations can go to court in cases of illegitimate interference by public authorities. Firstly, via basic administrative recourse, then – if necessary – via higher German judicial authorities represented by the Federal Constitutional Tribunal.
The Irish Times : No conflicts
The Irish daily is run by a public trust which guarantees its editorial independence and freedom.
Polskie Radio, kanal 3 : There are occasional tensions
Public radio in Poland cannot show political bias, either in the news or in advertising. It must be objective and impartial. Generally these principles work, but not always, and occasionally there is a slides towards being a media support for the government of the day, particularly in times of major crisis.
BBC : There are reference texts
Between the Royal Charter which created the BBC, and a succession of ‘Guidelines’, ‘Guidance’ and reference texts of all sorts, all situations for potential conflicts of interest seem to have been provided for. These manuals of principles and procedural texts have made the public audio-visual group one of the world references in terms of independence.
The Guardian : Transparency
If The Guardian writes about a company owned by the Guardian Media Group, this will be mentioned in the article.
The same principle applies to anybody who works, or who has worked, for the group.