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Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication [New ed.]
 1443803480, 9781443803489

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Media Agoras

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication

Edited by

Iñaki Garcia-Blanco, Sofie Van Bauwel and Bart Cammaerts

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication, Edited by Iñaki Garcia-Blanco, Sofie Van Bauwel and Bart Cammaerts This book first published 2009 Cambridge Scholars Publishing 12 Back Chapman Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2XX, UK

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Copyright © 2009 by Iñaki Garcia-Blanco, Sofie Van Bauwel and Bart Cammaerts and contributors All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-0348-0, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-0348-9


Introduction The Realm of Contemporary Media Agoras Iñaki Garcia-Blanco, Sofie Van Bauwel and Bart Cammaerts ................... 1 PART I: PLURALISM AND SPHERES Chapter One The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights: A Proposal for Democratic Media Policy in the European Union Hannu Nieminen........................................................................................ 16 Chapter Two Revitalization of the Public Sphere? A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Research about Counter-Public Spheres and Media Activism Jeffrey Wimmer.......................................................................................... 45 Chapter Three Images of Europe from the Bottom: The Role of Media for the Attitudes towards Europe among Socially Disadvantaged Groups Ingrid Paus-Hasebrink and Christina Ortner ........................................... 73 PART II: REPRESENTATION AND DIVERSITY Chapter Four Representation of the “Feminine” in the Portuguese Popular Newspapers Correio da Manhã and 24Horas Carla Martins and Ana Jorge.................................................................... 98 Chapter Five Imagining Moral Citizenship: Gendered Politics in Television Discourse Tonny Krijnen.......................................................................................... 115


Table of Contents

Chapter Six Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model: Negotiating Ethnicity and Gender Cláudia Álvares ....................................................................................... 134 PART III: POLICY AND PRACTICES Chapter Seven The Debate on Media Pluralism in the European Union: Issues, Actors, and Emerging Coalitions Giorgia Nesti ........................................................................................... 158 Chapter Eight European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age: Analyzing a Contentious Part of European Policy and Integration Karen Donders and Caroline Pauwels.................................................... 178 Chapter Nine Gendering European Publics? Transnational Women’s Advocacy Networks in the European Union Sabine Lang............................................................................................. 198 LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS ................................................................ 220 INDEX .................................................................................................... 226


The relationship between diversity and the media in contemporary democratic societies has been receiving increased attention in academic and policy debates (e.g. Van Cuilenburg and McQuail, 2000; Bardoel et al., 2005; Lowe and Jauert, 2005; Howley, 2005; Bailey et al., 2008). One of the main reasons for this is that they are closely intertwined with profound transformations in our distinct societies. Overall, democracies face different kinds of challenges with regard to diversity and the media. In a time when traditional, nation-state based societies are no longer tied by the national, linguistic and ethnic uniformities that used to bind them, democratic institutions are experiencing difficulties in terms of guaranteeing the respect, political recognition and agency that minorities and social groups deserve. Awareness of the increased social and cultural diversity of our societies, however, is not new. From the 1960s to the 1980s, “civic rights movements”–such as the peace movement (Moorehead, 1987), the gay and lesbian movement (Adam et al., 1999) and the women’s movement (Krolokke and Sorensen, 2005)–have played an important role in acknowledging the internal diversity of Western societies. Civil society movements and networks have exposed latent as well as explicit tensions that the taken for granted uniformity of our societies generates. Despite the greater political and social recognition resulting from these social mobilizations, their demands for inclusion and recognition have never fully been met (Hine and Hussein, 1998), and have constituted a continued unresolved tension. For example, women rights are well protected through the legal systems of Western countries, but gender equality is actually far from being a reality (Hoskeyns, 1996). Similarly, sexual minorities have



achieved different degrees of (legal) recognition across Western societies, but there are still many obstacles to the full legal and societal recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender identities (Waaldijk and Clapham, 1993; Szymanski and Chung, 2001; Takàcs, 2006). Migrant communities have grown, bringing to the fore–once again–the cultural, ethnic and religious diversities in our societies. However, such diversity is not necessarily experienced as enriching or an opportunity for widening cultural horizons and deepening cultural exchange (Mitchell and Russell, 1994; Geddes, 2003). In fact, conflicts have arisen, which, at times, have led to hate crimes, to protests, riots and unrest, often contested with police brutality. This book addresses these complex issues from a European perspective. The construction of a European polity under the motto “united in diversity” poses additional challenges to the relations between democracy, diversity and the media. As such, the EU considers that the linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe is a positive asset and, therefore, should be protected; the Treaty of Lisbon, for instance, states that the EU “shall respect its rich cultural and linguistic diversity” (European Union, 2007: 11). In addition, a common European identity is considered to be a crucial condition for guaranteeing the attachment of citizens to the European project (see, e.g. Lehning, 2001). The discourse on diversity within Fortress Europe is contrasted to a discourse on “other” identities, which can be seen as a “constitutive outside” (Derrida, 1974: 39-44; Staten, 1985: 16-19). However, such processes of othering often ignore hybrid identities of second and third generation migrant communities and new migrants. In this sense, the inner and the outer have been constructed on the basis of these tensions, and groups are excluded within the borders of Fortress Europe, but also in the periphery, outside this metaphorical fortress. The EU itself has developed and promoted an institutional conception of diversity within the framework of a (more participatory) democracy. The “good governance” principles outlined in the White Paper on European Governance affirmed that “democracy depends on people being able to take part in public debate” (European Commission, 2001: 11). However, that very white paper envisages that public debate on European policies should take place between lobby groups representing the interests of traditional social groups. These groups were already established as institutionalized political actors in EU politics (Magnette, 2003; Magnette, 2006). The need for a more inclusionary politics at EU level is often justified by the legitimacy crisis that the EU–and other institutions–are facing. The

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complex institutional structure of the EU, the different visions and conflicting interests, in combination with decreasing civic engagement with EU politics, are fuelling the critique on a democratic deficit in the EU (Norris, 1997; Katz, 2001). As such, Héritier (1997: 180) argues that participatory policy discourses emanating from the EU, aim “to avoid conflicts by forming a broad consensus prior to embarking upon legislation and to sustain legislation once it is in place”. As mentioned above, this legitimacy crisis being suffered by formal democratic institutions is affecting not only the EU, but also European (nation) states, as the low degree of political involvement, and distrust in political institutions, are not exclusive to the EU (see McDonough et al., 1998). The decline in voter turnout and the increased levels of political disenchantment and scepticism are manifestations of this (Dalton and Wattenberg, 2000). Some politicians acknowledged this fact,1 and certain political institutions have reacted to these signs of civic disengagement by promoting initiatives that foster more participatory politics. The case of the European Commission, in this regard, is paradigmatic; it has developed the previously mentioned White Paper on European Governance (European Commission, 2001) and the White Paper on a European Communication Policy (European Commission, 2006). The EU has traditionally identified diversity with the multiple nationstate languages and cultures found throughout Europe. There is only marginal attention being paid, however, to the presence of diasporic communities in Europe. Instead of conceiving these communities as an inbetween identity, producing healthy diversity and strong democracy, as it is now common in cultural theory (see Hall and Du Gay, 1996; Scheffer, 2003), they are often problematized as a potential challenge to “local” ways of living and the normal (and desirable) governing of democratic societies. European democratic societies, thus, face different challenges in their (normative) aspirations to respect promote diversity, guarantee pluralism and fundamental freedoms, and respect human rights, while promoting citizens’ identification with democracy and their political participation at national and European levels. In this regard, European democratic societies experience difficulties balancing strategies of 1

In this sense, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero expressed his concerns about politically disengaged citizens in his inaugural speech as Spanish prime minister: “They feel that politics does not meet their needs and expectations, or speak their language or respond to their values. We must regain their presence and their participation. We must combat disillusionment. To do so, and above all else, we must achieve the revitalisation of Parliament … [which is now] corseted, a prisoner of the Government” (Rodríguez Zapatero, 2004).



empowerment–required to guarantee the integration and involvement of certain social groups and minorities (ethnic, sexual, or gender-based)–with the risks of social fracture that such empowerment may entail, above all when it opposes hegemonic discourses or existing power structures. * * * Some scholars emphasize the highly mediated nature of democratic politics in our societies (e.g. Bennett and Entman, 2001) and consider that the media constitute a (if not the most) crucial force in the transformation of political systems (e.g. Castells, 1997). If media and communication studies are to escape the circularity of simply asserting the important role that media and communication play in a democracy, the relationship between the media, communication, diversity and democracy should be clarified or even rethought. The media constitute a privileged arena for the discursive (re)negotiation of the tensions and challenges that diversity brings about. Media Agoras can therefore be thought of as discursive spaces where social groups and communities are represented by “the media”, but which at the same time allow these groups and communities to self-represent themselves and to struggle for acceptance or for other political aims. Media are thus both a forum for societal consensus building and for exposing or even celebrating difference and conflicts. From this perspective, media can be defined in a variety of ways. It can be positioned as “the (mainstream) media”, constituted of public and commercial media organizations and the media professionals active in them, mediating newsflows and offering a continuous flux of information and entertainment contents where discourses about our societies are produced and reproduced, and images of different social and cultural groups are represented. At the same time media can also increasingly be regarded as communication tools, attributing citizens and civil society with more agency–or the potential for action. In order to sustain vibrant media agoras, respect for (and protection of) diversity of voices, of views, and of channels of communication becomes crucial. This debate is situated on the level of the production (user generated content and participation of citizens), on the level of content (diversity in the representations) and on the level of audiences (access, participation and media literacy). In this regard, it can be seen as part of the agenda of the emerging communication rights movement (Hamelink, 2003; Cammaerts and Carpentier, 2007) Different fictional and non-fictional media formats offer a favourable context for the representation of social diversity, at least ideally (Van

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Bauwel, 2004; D’Haenens et al., 2008). In this sense, the ultimate goal of information provision to citizens is the fair and balanced representation of and/or reflection on natural, social and political phenomena and/or practices. News production, however, is not as neutral as it is often presented to be. Bennett (2000: 205) reminds us that media transmit “values, problem definitions and images of people in society that provide resources for people in thinking about their lives and their relationship to government, politics and society”. As such, the way that groups in society are represented and issues are addressed or “framed”, matters (Goffman, 1974). As Entman (1993: 52) pointed out more then a decade ago: “to frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make then more salient in a communicative text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem, definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described”

Entertainment (and also all formats of infotainment) content offers an equally diverse range of opportunities for guaranteeing the democratic goals of respecting and enabling the possibility for political participation from different social groups. Entertainment content is potentially an excellent platform for promoting gender or ethnic equality and inclusion, especially when they are not particularly targeted at specific social groups, and foster the participation of a diversity of identities (Bhabha, 2004; Gilroy, 2000; Spivak, 2003). The same can be said about fiction content, which shows an increasing awareness of the necessity to offer an inclusive perspective for different social groups and/or minorities. The presence of gay characters in internationally acclaimed TV series (e.g. Six Feet Under, Will & Grace, Ellen), can be interpreted as an agent promoting the normalization of different lifestyles or so-called “new types of families”. As already indicated, participation and representation in the mainstream media are not unproblematic (Shohat and Stam, 1994; King and Mele, 1999). Mainstream media do not necessarily always play such a liberating or empowering role. For example, the potential media have for creating and above all sustaining stereotypes and patterns of (legitimized) behaviour has fed academic discussion since the publication of Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion in 1922. The media may act as an agent that continuously (re)legitimizes the status quo, rendering access to media contents difficult for certain minorities and social groups, and/or portraying biased, offensive or stigmatizing images of those groups or individuals that do not conform to the taken-for-granted patterns of behaviour (Philo, 1999; Downing and Husband, 2005).



Whilst not minimizing the important role of mainstream media nor the role of information and entertainment contents, media increasingly have to be seen in conjunction (and in contention) with alternative media as well as many-to-many communicative processes that potentially stimulate socio-cultural diversity and political pluralism (Bailey et al., 2008). The mainstream media have appropriated new media at a rapid pace, but, at the same time, citizens, activists, civil society organizations and networks are claiming their spaces through innovative use of new media, by-passing the gate-keeping power of the mainstream media (Deuze, 2006). Through websites with resources, blogs, wikis, online forums, mailing lists, as well as “old” media such as radio, citizens and civil society networks increasingly articulate their voices and organize themselves (Cammaerts, 2005). They thereby exercise their communication rights (i.e. through what is known as alternative or community media). At the same time these communicative tools allow for mobilization and more traditional forms of opposition, such as direct action. This shows that media agoras are also inherently conflictual spaces, striving against agonistic and also antagonistic struggles that do not respect the legitimacy of “the other” (Mouffe, 1999). In this context, we can point to the neo-fascist and the radical Muslim movements and discourses. Current media agoras engender a number of pressing questions in relation to diversity and its importance to our democracies, characterized by a high degree of mediation and communication. Are the media fostering the empowerment of different social groups and minorities present in society? Or are they, instead, reinforcing stereotypes and promoting further stigmatization of certain groups and minorities? What is the role of policy in guaranteeing that plurality and diversity are respected in the media, whilst protecting minorities? Is the exercise of democracy richer and more complex as more articulate voices claim their right to participate in democratic politics? Are new media helping the political articulation of social groups and minorities? In essence, is democracy-aswe-know-it undergoing profound change; if so, what role is the media playing in this? What are the roles played by different social groups and minorities in this change? How do they become (a) public? * * * Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication groups a number of chapters covering a wide array of topics relating to the questions posed above. The contributing authors depict a diverse, documented, but still bittersweet image of the main struggles that

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democracy is currently going through in most European societies, where, in spite of a declared combination of respect for civil liberties and welfare, certain social groups and minorities still have to strive for their democratic and communicative rights. The book is organized along three themes tackling the relations amongst democracy, diversity and the media from different perspectives. The first of these themes dissects some relevant discussions on the theoretical and practical debates on the role of the media in European democracy and its relation to diversity. In spite of the strong normative character of Habermas’s work, this debate has pivoted around the concept of the public sphere that has been crucial not only as an ideal type for theoretical reflection (Bennett and Entman, 2001), but also as a policy goal for European politicians and bureaucrats, as Hannu Nieminen shows in his chapter. His analysis is twofold, reflecting on the impact of the EU’s institutional context in terms of both its political communication and its media policy. In spite of the strong motivation to overcome the lack of public debate at EU level, EU institutions seem to inescapably lower the aspirations of every initiative in that direction. Strictly speaking, the Habermasian normative notion of the public sphere is not entirely compatible with the social diversity of contemporary Western societies. Theoretical debate on the public sphere has attempted to overcome this through a complexification of the original Habermasian concept, developing a more sophisticated conception of democracy in which consensus is not the ultimate political goal (Dahlgren, 2005). Authors such as Gitlin (1998) and Taylor (1995) introduced concepts such as “public sphericules” or “nested public spheres”, challenging the unicity of the Habermasian notion, and pushing the concept so it could be exploited for thinking about social diversity, political conflict, different forms of collective action, and even anti-democratic groupuscules or antipublics (Cammaerts, 2007). The concept of counter-public spheres has been crucial in developing anti-essentialist theorizations of contemporary politics (Downey and Fenton, 2003). In his chapter, Jeffrey Wimmer offers a thorough meta-analysis of the empirical research published in English and in German, linking counter-public spheres and media activism. Christina Ortner and Ingrid Paus-Hasebrink centre on a scarcely researched area. Their chapter discusses media consumption and the formation of attitudes towards Europe amongst citizens living in precarious conditions. This chapter sheds light on the part played by the media in the well-documented direct relation between higher levels of income and education, and support for the EU. Until recently the scholarly



debate on Europe and the media has focused exclusively on media coverage, with little attention to the way citizens select and use Europerelated content. This chapter illustrates the relevance of analysing media use (and selection) of different social groups in relation to their attitudes towards Europe and their participation generally in the European public sphere. The book’s second theme is media representations of diversity, with special interest in the construction of gender and the feminine/femininity through media discourses, informed by related, but still different theoretical backgrounds. Carla Jorge and Ana Martins analyse the construction of the feminine in Portuguese popular dailies, stressing the prevalence of gender stereotypes in press content. Their chapter provides critical analysis of the role of popular media in maintaining and feeding essentialist discourses that actively enforce the discursive construction of systems of stratification linking wealth, gender, sexuality, race and marital and parental status, among others. This chapter illustrates a tradition within feminist media studies (van Zoonen, 1994) where the media content is analysed to access stereotypical representations of woman and femininity (e.g. Mediawatch, 1995; Rakow and Kranisch, 1991). Tonny Krijnen, in turn, examines the moral discourses underlying prime-time television content in The Netherlands. Her approach, heavily rooted in theoretical works on (popular) culture (see Hermes, 1995; Hartley, 1999) as well as feminist theory (see Benhabib, 1992), identifies the prevailing discourses on socially structuring issues such as norms, family, democratic values, and violence. Krijnen offers an ambivalent picture highlighting the positive reinforcement of crucial democratic values exercised by prime-time television, while helping to maintain certain stereotypical clichés. Using conceptualizations from Nussbaum (1995; 1997) and Rorty (1989), Krijnen sets out the realm of norms and their televisual articulations. Her contribution stresses the agora-esque nature of media as constituting an arena where the hegemonic struggle for discourse fixation can take place, while denouncing the moral panic fuelling the fuss about moral decay fostered by television programmes. Cláudia Álvares inspirationally suggests in the last chapter in this section that the image of the media as an agora is inextricably linked to media audiences, stressing the need to look beyond the representations and emphasizing the contribution of interpretative audience research (see Ang, 1985). Her reception analysis examines the reception of women representations in the media of both Portuguese and Brazilian women living in Portugal, and critiques the reported experiences of these women. Álvares’s analysis fully embraces the debate around the (dis)empowering

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potential of contemporary media, establishing a fruitful threefold dialogue between the interviewed women, and landmark contributions to the fields of reception studies and feminist media studies. The book concludes with three chapters analysing different aspects of the relationship between media, diversity and democratic participation in policy-making processes. A crucial aspect of the relations between media and diversity has to do with the diversity of the media. The media themselves are also victims of homogenization processes emanating from global economic trends in media concentration; fewer and fewer owners control more and more media outlets. The media are becoming less and less diverse, which poses a threat to media pluralism, which is crucial for a healthy democracy and for social and cultural diversity. The EU has addressed these concerns over media pluralism somewhat hesitantly, while trying to achieve a compromise or balance between its own interest in fostering pan-European media, and its defence of competition through effective enforcement of anti-trust regulation. The stakes, the negotiations and the lobbying efforts determining the latest evolutions of EU policy in relation to media pluralism, are analysed by Giorgia Nesti. In her chapter, Nesti unveils a considerable amount of “grey” literature, shedding light on the closed-door negotiations that–somehow ironically–surround the elaboration of policies pursuing the free flow of information and fostering the transparency necessary for informed public debate. Karen Donders and Caroline Pauwels address the conflicting debates among media actors, the EU, and EU member states concerning public service broadcasting, competition among different broadcasters, and state aid. Donders and Pauwels dissect the arguments triggered by the various actors and stake-holders in the constant give-and-take between those supporting a media sector exclusively regulated by market laws, and those justifying different degrees of state (economic) intervention. Finally, Sabine Lang offers a citizen-oriented chapter, focusing on the advocacy potential of transnational women’s networks in the EU. Informed by three case-studies, Lang assesses the impressive lobbying ability of these networks, which have succeeded in almost all of their campaigns at the institutional level. However, Lang also suggests that excessive orientation towards EU-institutions may plunge these networks into a legitimacy crisis, due to lack of public visibility and, consequently, civic support. * * *



The chapters in this book were originally presented at a symposium on “Equal opportunities and communication rights: representation, participation, and the European democratic deficit”, held in Brussels in October 2007. It was organized by the Communication and Democracy, Gender and Communication, Journalism Studies, and Political Communication sections of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA). We would like to thank the chairs and vice chairs of these sections for their cooperation, both during the organization of the symposium, and during the publication process for this book. We also thank the European Journalism Centre and Vesalius College for their financial and logistic support in organizing the symposium, as well as George Terzis, Frederic Dhaenens, Veva Leye and Stijn Joye for their help. We also thank Iván Manzano for his preparation of the book in camera ready format and Cynthia Little for her language help. Finally, we are very grateful to Nico Carpentier for his enormous generosity, and constant help and inspirational encouragement.

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Introduction The European media and communication landscape is in the midst of profound transformation. The commercial logic of the print media has been contrasted to other functional logics such as the universal service principle of telephony or the public service principle of broadcasting; today, digitalization and computerization of information has utterly changed this context. As a result of this, different regulatory regimes are converging today. The commercial logic appears to emerge as a winner, promoting a neo-liberal regulatory framework (see Kaitatzi-Whitlock, 2005). At the same time the ambitious project of European integration initiated after the Second World War appears to have run out of steam, to such an extent that even the European Commission in its documents speaks of a crisis in public trust and confidence in the European Union (EU) (European Commission, 2005a). One of the remedies proposed is the improvement of European media and communication policies and the development of a European public sphere (EPS) (European Commission, 2006a). It is hoped that increasing public inlets and ways for citizens to participate in public debates on European issues would increase support for the EU and European integration process. In this chapter it is argued that the commercial logic followed in the European media and communication regulatory policies (see Nesti’s chapter in this book) contradicts the aims to open-up and strengthen the

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European public sphere. There is a need for a re-definition of the basic values of EU media and communication policies, and for this purpose we propose a specific approach to European media and communication regulation based on the concept of citizens’ communication rights. The communication rights framework is normative and rests on the belief that deliberative democracy is not merely a theoretical concept, but can be applied in concrete policy oriented ways. In this sense, I will initially call my approach a proposal for a democratic regulatory framework for European media and communication. The arguments are developed in three stages. First, the present condition of the EU is briefly explored. It is characterized as a twofold crisis because it concerns both politics and legitimacy. Second, the ways that the European Commission uses media and communication policies in an attempt to solve this political and legitimacy crisis are discussed, as well as the Commission’s deployment of the notion of a European public sphere. Finally, and as the main outcome, we outline a proposal for a new democratic regulatory framework for European media and communication.

The twofold crisis of the EU Despite many achievements and continuing enlargement, the European integration project, which began after the Second World War, is being challenged at a fundamental level. On the one hand, the problems are political: the EU is suffering a political malaise, as is shown by the failed European Constitution ratification process. On the other hand, the EU suffers from a lack of popular legitimacy, which is exemplified, among other things, by the alarmingly low turnout for European Parliamentary elections (see e.g. Der Spiegel, 2005). Although the EU encompasses the world’s third biggest population,1 it is considered rather weak politically. The EU’s political weakness is present in many areas: in global security and foreign policy, as there is a lack of common policy e.g. diverging views on the US-led war in Iraq; in European security policy, as there appears to be no effective common approach to the conflicts in the Caucasian region; in energy policy, as there is no coherent approach to future energy sources; etc. This lack of common political power is inherent in the EU. As its original aim was economic integration and the creation of European single 1

In 2006, the EU (25) had 457 million inhabitants, China had 1,288 million and India 1,064 million. The USA had 291 million and Indonesia 245 million. See GeoHive, (accessed 24 April 2007).


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market, its basic structures were not aimed at developing and deciding on common policies. Problems started to emerge only when the main contours of the European single market were established and the primary aim was more or less fulfilled. From the early 1990s, and perhaps earlier, it became clear that in order to be globally competitive, more than European economic integration was needed. In the Maastricht Treaty the EU’s mandate was extended to include not only the economic, social and environmental policy areas (Pillar I) but also common foreign and security policy (Pillar II) and cooperation in internal security (Pillar III). This naturally resulted in a growing tension between the need to create more centralized decision-making structures for the EU–to transfer more binding political powers to the European Commission and other EU institutions–and the traditional sovereignty of the EU’s member states. This tension is exacerbated by the fact that the popular legitimacy of the European political system rests on two elements, namely citizens’ direct participation in European Parliamentary elections and the legitimacy derived from these decisions being backed by the national governments and representative institutions of member states. There has been no transfer of national sovereignty to the EU, and member states do take an active stance either in EU policy and decision-making or in the implementation of EU norms. As citizens have come to trust their national governments and institutions less and less (see European Commission, 2005e), the state of the EU’s legitimacy has grown increasingly unhealthy. The embedded character of the political dilemma that the EU is facing is obvious if we compare its two recent major policy challenges: the Lisbon strategy (European Council, 2000) and the European constitutional process (European Council, 2005; 2008). The Lisbon strategy was adopted by the European Council in March 2000. It set the target for the EU “to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” by 2010 and it recognized the need “to set a goal for full employment in Europe” within the same timeframe (European Council, 2000). The overall Lisbon strategy is global economic competitiveness. The main fear is that Europe is lagging behind not only the US, but also the rapidly developing Asian markets. The aims and values that the Lisbon strategy promoted are measured by economic criteria and concepts–such as competitiveness, profitability, growth, and efficiency. As was obvious by February 2005, the Lisbon strategy had not produced the outcomes that were hoped for: “the Commission finds the results to date somewhat disappointing and the European economy has failed to deliver the expected performance in terms of growth, productivity and employment. Job creation has slowed and there

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is still insufficient investment in research and development” (European Commission, 2005c)

The fate of the Lisbon strategy can be compared with another major policy initiative of the EU, the attempt to anchor the EU to a constitutional basis–and in effect, to transform the EU from an intergovernmental construction to a more federal structure or to a federation of nations. The European constitutional process was an attempt to meet two different needs: on the one hand, the need for more effective and more centralized policy making, instrumental for the success of initiatives such as the Lisbon strategy; and on the other, the need to clarify the power structures and the legal basis governing the EU. The former was a response to the need for more efficiency; the latter was a response to the need for more democratic legitimacy and accountability (Eriksen et al., 2005). While it is undoubtedly the case that one of the main aims of the constitutional process was to make the EU more transparent and more democratically accountable, and to establish, at least in the initial stages, a European “rule of law”, in popular social imaginary other aspects of European developments took the forefront. It is not accidental that the two strategic processes, the Lisbon strategy and the European constitution, were conducted in parallel. In public debate the hard economic aims and values of European integration–as promoted by the Lisbon strategy–were considered as being more important than the concerns relating to legitimacy and accountability. The launching of the European constitution was thus not viewed as representing an increased democratization of the EU and as promoting social and cultural cohesion, but rather as centralization and as a “command and control” type of governance, transferring sovereignty from the nation states to the faceless Eurocrats in Brussels (see Bonde et al., 2005; Abitbol et al., 2003). In sum, it can be argued that the political crisis of the EU does not originate from the negative results of the French and Dutch referenda (in 2005), rejecting the European constitution, or from the Irish “No” vote on the Lisbon Treaty (in 2008), but from the crisis between two very distinct logics or value systems that the EU attempts to combine, a market-based economic logic versus a democratic logic of social and cultural values. The results of these three referenda (France’s and The Netherlands’ votes on the constitution, and Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon treaty) clearly show the difficulties that popularizing the EU poses. The EU’s decision-making processes are complicated and not exactly open to democratic accountability as the processes underlying the decisions are not always clear. This is not only caused by the opacity surrounding the development and negotiation of policies within the triple-headed structure


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of decision making (where the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU use balancing powers), but also by the heavy involvement of the large army of civil servants and experts (some 23,000 in total) in policy planning and advocacy.2 As a result, the EU has remained remote for European citizens, and it seems that, in recent years, the gap between the EU and the popular mood has even increased. The recent results of the Eurobarometer 69 (European Commission, 2008d) show that: a) Support for EU membership is decreasing among the citizens of EU countries. In spring 2008, on average, only 52% of EU citizens believed that their country’s membership of the EU was a good thing. In spring 2007 this percentage was 57% (European Commission, 2008d); b) On average, in spring 2008 only 48% of EU citizens viewed the EU positively; this was clearly less than the 52% measured in spring 2007(European Commission, 2008d); c) An overwhelming majority of citizens in the big Euro-zone countries believe the Euro has damaged their national economies (European Commission, 2006c). European citizens’ political alienation is reflected also in recent developments in the European Parliament elections. The turnout for these elections has been steadily declining over the years: in 1979, the turnout was 63%; in 1994 it was 57%; in 1999 it was 50%; and in 2004 it was 46% (Mellows-Facer et al., 2004). We can contrast these figures with voting activity in national elections: although voting in general has been steadily declining in most EU countries, between 1945 and 2002 the average turnout for national elections in the EU countries has been 83% (IDEA, 2004).

The media and communication policies of the EU The European heads of states were shocked by the results of French and Dutch referenda. “Europe is not in a state of crisis–it’s in a state of profound crisis”, the then-President of EU, Luxemburg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is reported to have said in June 2005.3 As the 2

On the other hand, the City Council of Barcelona directly employs 6,479 persons, serving only 1.5 million citizens. 3 The EU “crisis” after failure of the summit,; see also;

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European constitutional process was effectively halted, the European Council declared a period of reflection in June 2006 to be used for extensive and wide scale public consultation on the future of Europe (European Council, 2005). The period of reflection was officially declared to be over in January 2007, but without having achieved any clear outcome (see Euractive, 2006). The main focus during this period of reflection was improving the communication and public relations (PR) activities of the Commission, as several central documents from that period show. In other words, instead of taking seriously the critiques of citizens and civil society towards the European project, the reasoning developed was that more communication and PR would ultimately persuade the dissenters. Examples of this are: a) Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe (European Commission, 2005b); b) Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate (European Commission, 2005a); c) White Paper on a European Communication Policy (European Commission, 2006a); d) Period of Reflection and the Plan D (European Commission, 2006b); e) Communicating Europe in Partnership (European Commission, 2007a); f) Debate Europe-Building on the experience of Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate (European Commission, 2008a). In this chapter three different areas of policies which appear to be either directly or indirectly initiated and affected as a result of the period of reflection are assessed: improving the European Commission’s communication and PR-work; emphasizing media pluralism in Europe; and promoting the European public sphere.

Improving the European Commission’s PR activity The documents mentioned above emphasize the necessity for reforming the communication and PR activities of the European Commission. The basic message is that the reason for the recent crisis of the EU does not rest on EU policies, but on their ineffective communication to the great European public. Obstacles to effective communication include especially the following: a) The Commission’s communication activities are criticized for being insufficiently coordinated and planned; the messages are


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not linked to citizens’ interests and needs, but instead, “current campaigns focus[ing] on the political elite and media and fail[ing] to portray the benefits and consequences for day-to-day life in a direct and understandable manner”; and the strategies are focused more on financing campaigns than developing dialogue and communication (European Commission, 2005a; European Commission, 2006b); b) Constant tensions between the European Commission and the member states have been negatively reflected in the public debate: “Ending the blame-game, both by Member States and the European institutions, is an important change that must take place” (European Commission, 2005a); c) The media has not played its part in promoting the European agenda, and vice versa. Media coverage of European issues “remains limited and fragmented”: between the reporting of major events such as European Council meetings, there are periods when “there is no comprehensive cover of EU affairs”. Regional and local newspapers “generally give little space to European issues”. On television (TV) and radio, “time devoted to political information and to European issues is squeezed still further and competition for ‘television space’ has increased” (European Commission, 2006a). The solution, as suggested in the documents, is rather obvious: the Commission’s communication work must be improved, it should become more professional, more resources should be allocated to it and new methods and new technologies must be applied. All this is aimed at meeting and listening better to the needs and aspirations of European citizens: “The European Commission is therefore proposing a fundamentally new approach–a decisive move away from one-way communication to reinforced dialogue, from an institution-centred to a citizen-centred communication, from a Brussels-based to a more decentralised approach” (European Commission, 2006a)

By autumn 2008, a number of new methods of participation and communication activity had been designed and put into practice (see European Commission, 2008a).

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


More emphasis on media pluralism in Europe As stated above, according to the 2006 White Paper, one of the reasons for the lack of popular support was the negative exposure given to European issues in the media, which resulted in a bad image of the EU. Recent interest in media pluralism in Europe can be perceived as an attempt to respond to these concerns. In January 2007 the European Commission announced a “three-step approach” to media pluralism. According to this approach: “the notion of media pluralism is much broader than media ownership; it covers access to varied information so citizens can form opinions without being influenced by one dominant source. Citizens also need transparent mechanisms that guarantee that the media are seen as genuinely independent” (European Commission, 2007b)

This approach was new on two counts. The issue has been a constant topic in different EU organs at least from the early 1990s (European Commission, 2005d; European Commission, 2007b: 4-5), but the Commission has not been sufficiently proactive in developing a clear policy on media pluralism as it closely concerns such sensitive issues as media ownership and media concentration. In spite of the growing transnational character of media ownership in the era of satellite-TV and Internet, its regulation traditionally has been left to the member states (Nesti, 2007). Secondly, and related to the above, is that traditionally authorities in general are reluctant to discuss issues that could be interpreted as attempts to interfere with the freedom of the press. It is not clear where the three-step approach has led. The first step consisted of publication in January 2007 of the Commission’s working paper setting the outlines for the discussion (European Commission, 2007b). The main aim seems to be to establish empirical indicators to measure the levels of pluralism in EU member countries. To this end, the second step consisted of the commissioning of a major independent study. The third step will be the establishment of indicators on the basis of a wide scale consultation process (European Commission, 2007b). There is no clear indication of how these indicators would be used, or what measures might follow from the results of the consultation.


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Promoting the European public sphere Although the main thrust of the documents described above is similar to that in many modern PR- and corporate communication manuals, they also include elements that go further and indicate the existence of a deeper understanding of the crises facing the EU. The White Paper on a European Communication Policy (2006a) discusses at some length the prospects for and necessity to create a European public sphere, endowed with such attributes as inclusiveness, diversity, participation, among others. However, development of the idea of a European public sphere is restricted almost exclusively to the White Paper; the other documents make only minor reference to it and do not explain or contextualize it further. The attempt to bring to the debate on European communication policy Habermasian vocabulary as well as the normative-theoretical insights of deliberative democracy, is not accidental. The European Commission Vice-President, Margot Wallström, who is also Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication, echoed some of the interventions in the academic debate on the prospects for a European public sphere (see Risse, 2003; van de Steeg, 2002), when she stated in January 2007: “It would be very important, from the ‘public sphere’ perspective, that issues of common interest–for example energy security, climate change, social Europe–are discussed more or less at the same time, by people across the European Union, and possibly within a common framework of values” (Wallström, 2007)

In the same speech, she also joined the debate on communication rights, central to the ideals of deliberative democracy. In defining the values and principles that should guide the EU’s communication activities, the starting point “can only be the citizens and their democratic rights”, which she listed as follows: “The right to full and fair information about decisions that affect their lives, wherever they are taken; The right to hear and compare different opinions and points of views; The right to debate issues of common interest; The right to express their views and to be heard” (Wallström, 2007)

Unfortunately Margot Wallström has been a rather lone voice among the Commissioners. Since the publication of the White Paper in February 2006, public sphere has appeared only occasionally in the EU documents,

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and without any reference to the wider democratic-normative framework in which the public sphere is embedded. For example, in the document “Communicating Europe in Partnership” (European Commission, 2007a) in which European public sphere appears, but in a rather narrow parliamentarian sense. The document stresses the need to increase the rate of participation in forthcoming European Parliamentary elections, and emphasizes the role of political parties and elected representatives in raising European issues and contributing to Europe-wide public debates: “The levels of participation and the extent to which European Parliament elections are fought on European policies are, together, a measure of the extent of the challenge of creating a European public sphere” (European Commission, 2007a: 10). It appears that there are two different approaches to resolving the crises of the EU. The first is based on the belief that what is needed is better management of the Commission’s communication and PR-activities. The second regards the crisis as basically the result of a lack of democracy, and sees the remedy lying in a conscious attempt to build up something that is called the European public sphere. In what follows, I explore the second approach.

European public sphere and citizens’ communication rights The emphasis in EU documents on the European public sphere is not accidental, and has been the subject of increasing interest in European social and political research since the mid 1990s.4 A number of research 4

Some of the EU funded projects dealing with European public sphere either directly or indirectly are listed here: AIM: Adequate Information Management in Europe (; accessed 24 October 2006)–directed in Germany; CIDEL: Citizenship and Democratic Legitimacy in Europe (; accessed 24 October 2006)–directed in Norway; EMEDIATE: Media and Ethics of a European Public Sphere from the Treaty of Rome to the “War on Terror” ( /EMEDIATE/Index.shtml; accessed 24 October 2006)–directed in Italy; EUROPUB.COM: The Transformation of Political Mobilisation and Communication in European Public Spheres ( knowledge/projects/article_3479_en.htm; accessed 24 October 2006)–directed in Germany; Eurosphere (–directed in Norway too; IDNET: Europeanization, Collective Identities, and Public Discourses (


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projects on the European public sphere have been funded by the European Commission and/or national research funds.5 As is the case in the academic world, all these projects function as intellectual factories– producing seminars, conferences, workshops, publications–resulting in a small-scale academic industry on the public sphere.6 In what follows, we take Margaret Wallström’s statements concerning the European public sphere and citizens’ communication rights as a starting point. We do not discuss here the theoretical-conceptual basis behind the normative ideal of the public sphere; it is the subject of separate debate (Nieminem, 2006; Lingeberg, 2006). Following Wallström’s speech (and the formulation in the Framework Programme 6 call), the EPS is viewed as a normative goal representing an attempt for a more democratic Europe. In Wallström’s speech, the notion of citizens’ rights occupied a central place: “The right to full and fair information… The right to hear and compare different opinions… The right to debate issues of common interest… The right to express their views and to be heard” (Wallström, 2007). All this seems to point directly to a combination of specific rights to what we will call here citizens’ communication rights.

m; accessed 24 October 2006)–directed in Italy; RECON: Reconstituting Democracy in Europe (; accessed 24 October 2006)–again, Norway; CINEFOGO-Network of Excellence: Civil Society and New Forms of Governance in Europe–the Making of European Citizenship (; accessed 26 April 2007)–directed in Denmark. 5 See e.g. European Public Sphere(s): Uniting and Dividing, University of Helsinki (; accessed 26 April 2007); Media, Democracy and European Culture (Europe in Transition) (; accessed 26 April 2007). 6 Defying oversimplification, the main thrust of the projects mentioned above are described in subtoic 7.1.1. “Towards a European Public Sphere” in the EU’s FP 6th’s Specific Programme “Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area”. In the text of the call the aim of the research is described as: “The objective is to provide integrated perspectives on the roles of different social and political actors and assess their contributions towards the articulation of diverse public communicative spaces in Europe, as components of the broader public sphere. Although the text makes reference to study of the role of media policy and media economy in relation to the conditions for the European public sphere, these issues are weakly articulated. What seems to be missing from both the sixth framework call and the research projects presented above are approaches that more directly relate to the role of the EU’s media and communication policy, i.e. the challenges that development of European public sphere pose to the European wide regulatory framework of media and communication.

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


And following Wallström’s argumentation, the implementation of these rights is a condition for the realization of a European public sphere. Obviously, there are different means to realizing these rights. Some are related to the function of public administration; some are related to the political system more generally. Here, we restrict our study to role of the media, and the question of how we can make the European media system serve citizens’ communication rights better. Although the concept of communication rights has been part of the vocabulary of academia for some time (e.g. Hamelink, 2003a; Cammaerts and Carpentier, 2007; Padovani and Milan, 2007), it does not appear to have been developed very systematically. Most often the concept has been discussed in reference to UNESCO’s New World Communication and Information Order (NWICO) of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as to the more recent World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Hamelink, 2003b; Padovani, 2004; Mueller et al., 2007). In recent years there have been increasing attempts to find an analytical definition of what constitutes communication rights, or the right to communication as it is phrased by some authors (Birdsall and Rasmussen, 2000; McIver, Jr. and Birdsall, 2002; World Forum on Communication Rights, 2003; McIver Jr. et al., 2003; McIver Jr. et al.; 2004; CRIS, 2005; Hicks, 2007; Padovani, 2007). Although communication rights have not been internationally codified and they do not have legal status, many scholars argue that their essential elements have been many times confirmed by the international community in international treaties and conventions of the UN and its organizations,7 the Council of Europe (see Council of Europe, 1950) and the EU.8 7

E.g. on the principle of freedom: Freedom of Expression: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 19; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Article 19; Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 13; Protection of privacy: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 12; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Article 17; Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 16; On the principle of inclusiveness: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Articles 19, 21, 28; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Articles 13, 15; Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation (1966), Article IV (4). On the principle of diversity: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Articles 1 (1), 27. Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (1995), Article 5. On the principle of participation: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Articles 21, 27; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Article 25. See also the UNESCO Diversity Convention (2005). 8 See EU, 1998; see also recent European Commission’s documents on European communication and media policies: Plan-D (European Commission, 2005); White


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Communication rights have been categorized in many different ways (CRIS, 2005: 39-49). We use four categories here, based on the different dimensions of communication, namely factuality, orientation, sociability, and self-expression (CRIS, 2005; Nieminen et al., 2006; Moring and Nieminen, 2006; Wallström, 2007): a) The right to information concerns the claim for factuality and accuracy of public representation; b) The right to orientation concerns plurality and diversity of opinions that are publicly offered or available; c) The right to social and cultural communality refers to the availability of a rich variety of cultural representations, including those of both art and entertainment; d) The right to self-expression includes access to channels and platforms where citizens can make themselves heard and seen, and also listened to. The problem, however, is that although these rights have been internationally agreed and confirmed in different arenas, it has not been possible to collect them within a unified framework and adopt them as a part of international law. This is not due to lack of trying: both the NWICO process in the 1970s and the WSIS in the early 2000s are examples of such attempts. Both of these processes clearly show the difficulties involved in having communication rights universally recognized, as opponents would claim that these rights open the way for governmental intrusion into press freedom (World Press Freedom Committee, 1981; Sussman, 2001). The result is that there is no coherent international regulatory framework or institutional structure responsible for overseeing the implementation of citizens’ communication rights. There are some monitoring agencies (e.g. European Audiovisual Observatory, European Institute for the Media, Institute of European Media Law, and EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program of the Open Society Institute) and several civic organizations (e.g. Communication Rights in Information Society CRIS, The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, and Campaign for the Freedom of Information), but there is no single legal instrument to guarantee the deployment of these rights.

Paper (European Commission, 2006a); Media Pluralism (European Commission, 2007b).

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


The EU’s regulatory framework From the point of view of citizen’s communication rights, Europe is an interesting case, as most European countries are active parties in the international treaties and conventions discussed above. How does the situation in Europe appear if measured against the normative model of citizens’ communication rights? The short answer would be: not well. The European regulation of media and communication seems rather incoherent, with different regulatory logics applying to different branches of the media: telecommunications has traditionally followed a very different regulatory regime from electronic media (radio and TV), and the print media have also traditionally been treated differently from other media. Basically, we can distinguish between three different regulatory approaches that have been applied to the EU’s media and communication regulation: a) The common market principle whose normative basis is competition law. This has been the regulatory philosophy behind telecommunications regulation. According to this approach, the aim of public regulation is to create conditions for fair competition in the market place. Public intervention is allowed only in order to block attempts to establish monopolistic or oligopolistic control of markets. This would also be the best guarantee of citizens’ rights as consumer;9 b) The freedom of speech principle, which is mainly an application of the laissez-faire philosophy applied to media and communication markets. This is traditionally the mode of regulation applied to the print media. According to this approach, all public regulation is bad as it implies interference with selfregulating free markets and freedom of speech. Public interest is best served when governments allow particular interests to freely enter the marketplace of ideas;10 c) The public service principle, which has been applied to the broadcasting media in most European countries, although to differing degrees and in different ways. The dominant argument, justifying the public service approach, has been that the radio 9

According to a Finnish scholar, Eero Paukku (2006), the market-based line of argumentation has been adopted by the European Court of Justice in its rulings concerning media-related cases. 10 According to Paukku (2006), this argumentation has been followed by the European Court of Human Rights.


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frequency spectrum is (or has been) limited and not all potential broadcasters can have equal access to the scarce frequencies. Therefore, access to the airwaves has to be determined on the basis of public interest, in contrast to commercial or political or other types of particular interests (Mott, 1972: 590-591). When assessing developments in EU policies from the 1980s onwards– especially the Television Without Frontiers Directive (TWF) (Council of the European Communities, 1989), the Green Paper on Convergence (European Commission, 1997) and the subsequent directives on electronic communications (2000-2002)–it becomes obvious that the main thrust has been away from the public service principle towards a laissez-faire approach. Of these three approaches, the one that affects citizens’ communication rights most closely is obviously the public service principle as it anchors its normative basis to public interest–in contrast to the “fair competition” of the common market principle and the “free market” of the freedom of speech principle (see European Broadcasting Union, 1998; Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 2004; UNESCO, 2007). The problem is, and has been for some time, that the public service principle in media and communication has traditionally been linked only to radio and TV broadcasting, and that its main justification has continued to be the scarce radio frequencies argument. However, this argument began to wear thin in the 1980s and 1990s with the development of new information and communication technologies such as satellite, fibre cable and Internet. Rather than channel scarcity, there would now appear to be channel abundance. In the 1990s, the defenders of the public service principle in media and communications policies were facing intensifying pressure from market-oriented media and communication lobbyists–as exemplified by the long and difficult negotiation and on the new version of EU’s TWF directive. However, instead of expanding the democratic public interest argument to new fields of media and communication, the supporters of public service retreated to narrower position of cultural nationalism. In the Amsterdam Protocol (EU, 1997) the EU stated that as “the system of public broadcasting in the Member States is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society and to the need to preserve media pluralism”, the public funding of broadcasting organizations will be allowed, but only as long as it does not compete directly with commercial actors–or as the Protocol says: “insofar as such funding does not affect trading conditions and competition in the Community to an extent which would be contrary

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


to the common interest” (EU, 1997; see also chapter by Donders and Pauwels in this book). From the point of view of citizens’ communication rights, instead of narrowing the public service principle the correct action would be to expand its scope to guide European media and communication policies as a whole, including telecommunications and the print media. Thus, the Amsterdam Protocol should be rephrased as follows: “the European media and communication system in its totality is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of European society and to the need to preserve media pluralism in Europe”.

Towards a democratic regulatory framework What would the communication rights perspective, outlined above, mean from the point of view of the European media and communication regulatory framework? Basically, it would mean that the whole European media and communication system with all its branches would need to be assessed in terms of to what degree it satisfies the concerned rights. In this respect we can say that there are three main requirements: access, availability, and dialogicality.11 By access, we mean that citizens should have an equal access to information, orientation and other contents serving their rights; by availability, we mean that relevant and high quality content (of information, orientation and other) should be equally available to all citizens; by dialogicality, we mean that there should be public spaces available that allow citizens to publicly share information, experiences, views and opinions on common matters. In practical terms this means that there should be a regulatory system that balances the social, cultural and other inequalities in relation to access and availability, and which creates spaces for dialogue and debate. As such, the regulatory system should function as a “filter” in two directions, including both the “input” and the “output” stages of communication. The “end product”, i.e. the arena where the different voices of citizens and citizens’ groups meet on an equal basis, is media publicity (see Figure 1).

11 These three requirements are a free operationalization of Habermas’s conceptualization of the public sphere.

Chapter One


Figure 1: A scheme of the regulatory framework of the media Regulatory framework

Media publicity IGn





Regulatory system C/CG1


C/ C/ CGn


Interest groups


IG = interest groups, some bigger and more influential, some smaller and with minimal influence Regulatory system = legislation, self- and co-regulation, civic control, market regulation Media publicity = the representation of different interests balanced and equalised by the means of the regulatory system C/CG = citizens, citizens groups; the regulatory system balances the availability of media contents to different citizens and their groups

One way of assessing the realization of communication rights should obviously be to measure media performance, i.e. to what degree the “end product” fulfils the requirements set out above–how well the regulatory system has been able to balance and equalize the access and availability of different interest and how it has promoted real dialogue and debate among them. However, studying only media publicity does not get us very far: all of the fundamental decisions concerning access, availability and dialogue are made before the “end product” phase of the media process. This is why we need more tools to get beyond the media publicity and to achieve a better reach in terms of the decisive moments in media production; value chain analysis offers such tools (see Fine, 2003; Daley and Simonian, 2005). In a simplified version, the basic value chain model (see Figure 2) for the media industry is comprised of four elements: content creation; editing

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


and packaging; distribution; and reception (the terms may differ according to their usage). Figure 2: Value-chain model of media production Content Creation


Editing & Packaging

Reception Æ



Access Availability Dialogicality

In each phase of the value chain, crucial decisions are made that affect the so-called end product (a TV programme, a newspaper, a web site). From a normative point of view, all these decisions have an impact on how the final media content meets the criteria of citizens’ communication rights. Currently, all the phases of the media value chain are regulated by different pieces of legislation and regulatory frameworks. Mostly this is national level regulation, but increasingly media is also being regulated on European (EU) and global (WTO, ICANN, ITU) levels of governance (see ÓSiochrú et al., 2002; Dupagne, 2003). More practically, at a European level this means e.g. that: a) In the phase of content creation, both national legislation and increasingly international contracts and conventions regulate the interpretation of copyright; b) The phase of editing and packaging is regulated through several different legislative regimes: copyright law, criminal law (e.g. libel, indecency, secrecy) and competition law; c) The phase of distribution is regulated by EU audiovisual and telecommunication directives. Obviously, several legal regimes overlap and cover many of the phases in the value-chain, e.g. competition law applies to all phases as does criminal law. Their application may differ however. By mapping different pieces of international and national laws and acts that regulate media and communication in Europe, and by connecting them with their respective phases in the value chain model of the media, it would be possible to draw a picture of the European regulatory framework in its entirety, as the schematic presentation in Figure 3 shows. This would allow well-informed judgements on the realization of citizens’ communication rights in Europe today.12

12 The value chain model of media’s regulatory framework is much easier to envisage on a national than on an EU scale (see Moring and Nieminen, 2006).

Chapter One


Figure 3. Value-chain model of regulatory framework Content creation

Editing & Packaging


Reception Access Availability Dialogicality

Copyright law Criminal law Freedom of information

Copyright law Criminal law Television Without Frontiers Audiovisual legislation Competition law

Telecomm. legislation Television Without Frontiers Competition law Consumer protection

Telecomm. legislation Criminal law Audiovisual legislation Consumer protection

Citizens communication rights Information? Orientation? Commonality? Self-expression?

General regulatory framework for media and communication

From the perspective of democratic regulation, legislative measures that are both proactive–aiming to steer action in advance instead of reactively, and positive–supporting favourable rather than prohibiting nonfavourable behaviour, are relevant. Examples of this are press subsidies, financial support for audiovisual production, different kinds of production quotas and, also, different media literacy and education programmes. From a democratic perspective, there should be questions about what is the history of positive proactive measures in media and communication policies? What is their practical relevance from the point of view of citizens’ rights? What are the current tendencies of and prospects for these kinds of policies? However, the legal framework is only one, although the most important, part of the regulatory system. Media and communications are increasingly being regulated by different forms of self- and co-regulatory regimes, such as codes of conduct, ethical councils, in-house rules, etc., which should also be taken into account (see Programme in Comparative Law and Policy, 2004; Richter, 2005). These self- and co-regulatory regimes, however, are still mostly national and sector specific. It seems that no transnational self-regulatory regime has been developed in any branches of media and communication, except in the area of marketing and advertising where the International Chamber of Commerce has shown leadership (see International Chamber of Commerce, 2007).

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights


Conclusions The main thrust of this chapter is that if the EU is serious about its aim to achieve genuine democratic legitimacy, its media and communication policies need radical change. The system of media and communication is as crucial (if not more so) to European democracy as the institutions of representative democracy. European democracy needs a functional European public sphere, where topics of common interest can be discussed simultaneously by citizens, sharing the same information and orientation in different parts of Europe and in different European languages (Risse, 2003). It is clear that no such European public sphere currently exists. What is needed is a consistent all-European policy to create the overall conditions required for such a public sphere to develop. An important precondition for this is a policy designed to create a democratic regulatory framework for European media and communication. The argument was developed in three stages. First the present condition of the EU, which is facing a twofold crisis of politics and popular legitimacy, was explored. It was concluded that the origins of the crisis lie in the conflict between two distinct value-systems, that of a market-based economic logic and that of a democratic logic of social and cultural values. The precise relationship and balance between these two logics is still unclear. Second, we discussed the ways the European Commission attempts to use media and communication policies to resolve the crisis and how it has employed the notion of the European public sphere in this attempt. In this context the endeavours of Commissioner Margot Wallström to incorporate the Habermasian sense of the public sphere into the European Commission documents were highlighted. Finally, a proposal for a new democratic regulatory framework for European media and communication was outlined. This proposal is based on the concept of citizens’ communication rights, which, although not codified, allegedly have been established through international treaties and conventions. These rights consist of four components: rights to information, to orientation, to social and cultural communality and to selfexpression. The problem, however, is that the actualization of these rights is dependent on the media and communication system, which may or may not be supportive to them. That is why public regulation is needed to balance and equalize the access of different social interests to and availability of media, and to level the different barriers to public critical dialogue. It is not enough, however, to assess the actualization of communication rights only on the basis of media publicity as it reduces the regulatory


Chapter One

means to concerning only media content and distribution. Crucial decisions affecting the so-called end product (a TV programme, a newspaper, a web site) are made in all preceding stages of the media production process. All these decisions have an impact on how the final media publicity meets the criteria of citizens’ communication rights. Currently, all phases in media production are regulated, at least to some degree, through different legislative or self- and co-regulative regimes. This occurs mostly at national level, but increasingly the media is subject to European (EU) and global (WTO, ITU, ICANN) levels of governance. What is being proposed is the development of a systematic approach based on a value-chain analysis model of media production that would allow the creation of a comprehensive picture of the present regulatory framework of European media and communication. Based on this, we could pose such questions as: a) In general, how consistent is the European regulatory framework from a normative perspective? Are there contradictory elements that could be used in our attempt to democratize the framework? b) What are the normative goals served by its different components13, and how do they relate to citizens’ democratic communication rights? c) What kinds of regulatory measures at each phase of the value chain would best serve citizens’ communication rights? d) What is the role of positive proactive measures compared to negative and reactive measures? How can we best assess the efficiency of positive pro-active measures? These questions might also lead to the establishment of a set of transparent criteria for each phase in the value chain in order to monitor whether media production is fulfilling its democratic function. We also need to establish what these criteria should be and how they should be enacted and enforced.

References Abitbol, W., J-P. Bonde, P. Dalgaard, J. Gormley, D. Heathcoat-Amory, E. Seppanen, P. Skaarup and J. Zahradil (2003) Alternative Reports: The Europe of Democracies. 13

These components include the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive (European Parliament and Council of the European Union, 2007), the EU Regulatory framework for electronic communications (European Commission, 2008b), the EU Media Programme (European Commission, 2008c), among many others.

The European Public Sphere and Citizens’ Communication Rights

37 alternative_en.pdf (accessed 16 September 2008). Birdsall, W. F. and M. Rasmussen (2000) “Citizens at the Crossroads: The Right to Communicate”, Government Information in Canada– Information gouvernementale au Canada, No. 20 (February 2000). /20/birdsall2.html (accessed 2 May 2007). Bonde, J-P., D. Hannan and E. Seppänen (2005) Europe Deserves Better. /imce/documents/europedeservesbetter_en.pdf (accessed 16 September 2008). Cammaerts, B. and N. Carpentier (eds) (2007) Reclaiming the media: communication rights and expanding democratic media roles. Bristol: Intellect. Council of Europe (1950) European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. (accessed 2 May 2007). Council of the European Communities (1989) Television Without Frontiers - Council Directive on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities. 89/552/EEC, 3 October 1989. (accessed 27 August 2008). CRIS (2005) Assessing Communication Rights: A Handbook. CRIS Campaign. September 2005. (accessed 2 May 2007). Daley, P. and H. Simonian (2005) Digital Media Industry: Private Company Sector Framework. Fall 2005. Rutberg & Company. (accessed 4 May 2007). Der Spiegel (2005) “Brussels in crisis”. 20 June 2005.,1518,361374,00.html (accessed 24 April 2007). Dupagne, M. (2003) “Educating Students About Global Media Regulation”, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47(3): 48286. Eriksen,E. O., J. E. Fossum, M. Kumm and A. J. Menéndez (2005) The European Constitution: The Rubicon crossed? Centre for European Studies, University of Oslo. Oslo: ARENA. (accessed 25 April 2007).


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Euractive (2006) Constitutional Treaty: the “reflection period”. (accessed 27 August 2008). European Broadcasting Union (1998) The Public Service Broadcasting Remit: Today and Tomorrow. EBU Legal Department, 29 April 1998. (accessed 17 September 2007). European Commission (1997) Green Paper on Convergence 1997: Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors, and the Implications for Regulation. COM(97)623, 3 December 1997. (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2005a) Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate. COM(2005) 494 final, 13 October 2005. _planD_en.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2005b) Action Plan to Improve Communicating Europe by the Commission. SEC(2005)985, 20 July 2005. df (accessed 9 November 2007). European Commission (2005c) A new start for the Lisbon strategy. (accessed 24 April 2007). European Commission (2005d) Media Pluralism–What should be the European Union’s role? Issues Paper for the Liverpool Audiovisual Conference, July 2005. mediaplur_en.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2005e) Eurobarometer 62. pdf (accessed June 2008). European Commission (2006a) White Paper on a European Communication Policy. COM(2006) 35 final, 1 February 2006. df (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2006b) The Period of Reflection and Plan D. Communication from the Commission to the European Council. COM(2006) 212 (provisional version), 10 May 2006. en.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008).

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European Commission (2006c) The Future of Europe. Special Eurobarometer 251 / Wave 65.1. /archives/ebs/ebs_251_en.pdf (accessed 25 April 2007). European Commission (2007a) Communicating Europe in Partnership. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM(2007)568 final, 3 October 2007. (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2007b) Media pluralism in the Member States of the European Union. Commission staff working document. SEC(2007), 16 January 2007. /media_pluralism_swp_en.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2008a) Debate Europe–building on the experience of Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM(2008)158/4, 4 April 2008. -4_en.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008). European Commission (2008b) Regulatory framework for electronic communications. /en/lvb/l24216a.htm (accessed 16 September 2008). European Commission (2008c) Media Programme. (accessed 16 September 2008). European Commission (2008d) Public Opinion in the European Union. First results. Standard Eurobarometer 69. June 2008. f (accessed 27 August 2008). European Council (2000) Lisbon European Council 23 and 24 March 2000: Presidency Conclusions. (accessed 24 April 2007). European Council (2005) Declaration by the Heads of State or Government of the Member States of the European Union on the Ratification of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. 16 and 17 June 2005


Chapter One ec/85325.pdf (accessed 27 August 2008). European Council (2008) Treaty of Lisbon. The Institutional Reform of the European Union. (accessed 28 August 2008). European Parliament and Council of the European Union (2007) Directive 2007/65/EC of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (Audiovisual Media Services Directive). Official Journal of the European Union L 332, 18 December 2007. (accessed 16 September 2008). European Union (1997) Protocol on the system of public broadcasting in the Member States. Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts: Protocols annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community. Official Journal of the European Communities C 340/109, 10 November 1997. _protocol_pb_021097.pdf (accessed 17 September 2007). European Union (1998) Declaration of the European Union on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Vienna, 10 December 1998 ecl_98.htm (accessed 2 May 2007). Fine, C. (2003) Value Chain Roadmapping for Communications and Media. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management. Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 2003. (accessed 17 September 2007). Hamelink, C. J. (2003a) “Communication Rights and the European Information Society” pp. 121-147 in Jan Servaes (ed.) European Information Society: A Reality Check. Bristol: Intellect. Hamelink, C. J. (2003b) The right to communicate in theory and practice: a test for the World Summit on the Information Society. The Spry Memorial Lectures, Montreal, 13 November 2003–Vancouver, 17 November 2003. /Spry/spry-ch-lec.html (accessed 2 May 2007).

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Hicks, D. (2007) “The Right to Communicate: past mistakes and future possibilities”, Dalhousie Journal of Information and Management, 3(1) (Winter 2007). (accessed 2 May 2007). IDEA (2004) Voter Turnout in Western Europe since 1945. A Regional Report. International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Stockholm. e.pdf (accessed 25 April 2007). International Chamber of Commerce (2007) Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice. Consolidated ICC Code. (accessed 17 September 2007). Kaitatzi-Whitlock, S. (2005) Europe's Political Communication Deficit. Milton Keynes: Lightning Source. McIver, Jr. W. J., W. F. Birdsall and M. Rasmussen (2003) “The Internet and the right to communicate”, First Monday, 8(12). (accessed 2 May 2007). McIver, Jr., W.J. and W. F. Birdsall (2002) Technological Evolution and the Right to Communicate: The Implications for Electronic Democracy. Paper presented at the Electronic Networks & Democratic Engagement Colloquium. Njimegen, 9-12 October 2002. all.pdf (accessed 2 May 2007). McIver Jr., W. J., M. Rasmussen and W.F. Birdsall (2004) Sovereignty and Communication Rights. Paper presented at the International Colloquium Communication and Democracy: Technology and Citizen Engagement. Fredericton, 4-6 August 2004. (accessed 27 August 2008). Mellows-Facer, Adam, Richard Cracknell and Jessica Yonwin (2004) European Parliament elections. Research Paper 04/50. Social and General Statistics Section, House of Commons Library. research/rp2004/rp04-050.pdf (accessed 25 April 2007). Moring, T. and H. Nieminen (2006) “Media ja demokratia: ehdotuksia indikaattoreiksi”. Teoksessa Sami Borg (toim.) Suomen demokratiaindikaattorit. Oikeusministeriön julkaisu 2006:1. Helsinki: Oikeusministeriö [“Media and democracy: proposals for indicators” in


Chapter One

S. Borg (ed.) Democratic indicators for Finland. Ministry of Justice, 1: 2006]. (accessed 6 May 2007). Mott, F. L. (1972) “News Controls” pp.572-591 in C. S. Steinberg (ed.) Mass Media and Communication. Second Edition. New York: Hastings House. Mueller, M. L., B. N. Kuerbis and C. Pagé (2007) “Democratizing Global Communication? Global Civil Society and the Campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society”, International Journal of Communication, 1: 267-296. (accessed 2 May 2007). Nesti, G. (2007) Inter-institutional bargaining and emergent policy networks in the European debate on media pluralism. Conference paper. ECREA Symposium Equal Opportunities and Communication Rights: Representation, Participation and the European Democratic Deficit. Brussels, 11-12 October 2007. (accessed 18 October 2007). Nieminen, H., M. Aslama and M. Pantti (2006) Media ja demokratia Suomessa: Kriittinen näkökulma. Oikeusministeriön julkaisusarja [Media and Democracy in Finland: A Critical Perspective. Ministry of Justice, Government of Finland]. ÓSiochrú, S., Girard, B. and A. Mahan (2002) Global Media Governance: A Beginner’s Guide. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield. Padovani, Cl. (2004) Debating communication imbalances: from the MacBride Report to the World Summit on the Information Society. An application of lexical-content analysis for a critical investigation of historical legacies. Social Science Research Council, ITIC programme, Memo 4 (September 2004). report/memos/Padovanimemo4.pdf (accessed 2 May 2007). Padovani, C. (2007) Common principles: Charter, code of conduct or legal base? ce_conclusions-w1.pdf (accessed 6 May 2007). Padovani, C. and S. Milan (2007) Communication Rights Between Political Opportunities and Mobilization Frames: A Historical Perspective. International Communication Association, 2007 Annual Meeting. (accessed 18 September 2008). Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2004) Public service broadcasting. Recommendation 1641 (2004)

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43 EREC1641.htm (accessed 17 September 2007). Paukku, E. (2006) “Sananvapaus ja joukkoviestinnän sääntely EU:n oikeudessa” pp.47-82 in Kuka valvoo vapautta? Viestintäoikeuden vuosikirja 2005. Institute of International Commercial Law, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. Helsinki: University of Helsinki. Programme in Comparative Law and Policy (2004) Self-Regulation of Digital Media Converging on the Internet: Industry Codes of Conduct in Sectoral Analysis. Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy, Oxford University Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. 30 April 2004. (accessed 27 August 2008). Richter, A. (2005) Co-/Self-Regulation Bodies in the Mass Media. Report on the workshop jointly organized by the Moscow Media Law and Policy Centre and the European Audiovisual Observatory with the Grand Jury of the Russian Union of Journalists. European Audiovisual Observatory, July 2005. /expert/moscow_workshop.pdf (accessed 4 May 2007). Risse, T. (2003) An Emerging European Public Sphere? Theoretical Clarifications and Empirical Indicators. Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the European Union Studies Association (EUSA), Nashville (TN), 27-30 March 2003. (accessed 26 April 2007). Sussman, L. R. (2001) Press Freedom in Our Genes: A Human Need. World Press Freedom Committee. nes.pdf (accessed 2 May 2007). UNESCO (2005) Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. CLT-2005/Convention DiversiteCult. (accessed 4 May 2007). UNESCO (2007) What is public service broadcasting? TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html (accessed 4 May 2007). van de Steeg, M. (2002) “Rethinking the Conditions for a Public Sphere in the European Union”, European Journal of Social Theory, 5(4): 499519. Wallström, M. (2007) From the blame game to day-to-day partnership: European Commission, the German Presidency and the Member States discuss the key principles of EU communication policy. Stakeholders'


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conference on the White Paper in Berlin, 18 January 2007. H/07/25&format=HTML&aged= 0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en (accessed 26 April 2007). World Forum on Communication Rights (2003) Statement on Communication Rights. 11 December 2003 (accessed 27 August 2008). World Press Freedom Committee (1981) The Declaration of Talloires: A Constructive Approach To A Global Information Order. A Statement of Principles to Which an Independent News Media Subscribes, and On Which It Never Will Compromise.


Introduction The concept “counter-public sphere”, in a narrow sense, implies relative diverse phenomena of public communication as well as civil networks, which are subsumed under this so often over-used term. Since the 1960s and 1970s, it has been applied to the actions of new social movements (NSM) (e.g. student, peace, environmental movements) as well as to the structures and aims of alternative media (e.g. alternative press, free radio stations, open channels). Nowadays, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media activist projects and blogs, social network sites and other participatory media on the Internet are coming to the fore within the discussion of counter-public spheres. In spite of the enormous diversity of definitions and understandings of the public sphere and the counter-public sphere, three aspects have taken shape in previous research (see Wimmer, 2007: 233ff.). Firstly in our media society, there are multiple forms of the counter-public sphere. Therefore, I prefer the plural “counter-public spheres”. Secondly, especially from a theoretical perspective, numerous structural and thereby most communicative coherences are postulated between the public and counter-public sphere constructs. And thirdly, the mass media occupy a central and mediating position within these complex communicative relationships. When analysing these communicative relationships, the various dimensions of public communication (production, representation and appropriation) have to be considered simultaneously. Indeed, the concept


Chapter Two

“counter-public sphere”, like the concept “public sphere”, should be seen not as monolithic but as multidimensional, referring to the micro-, mesoand macro-levels of public communication on the one hand (Ferree et al., 2002; Gerhards and Neidhardt, 1991; Habermas, 1992: 452-3) and simultaneously to functional and subjective aspects on the other (for more details see Wimmer, 2007: 60ff.). However, the mere description of different publics within the public sphere is unsatisfactory from a theoretical perspective. Calhoun (1992: 37) stresses: “[It’s] a loss simply to say that there are many public spheres … for that will leave us groping for a new term to describe the communicative relationships among them”. Nonetheless, the extent of counter-public spheres as well as their relationships to the mainstream public sphere and particularly to the established mass media, seem still to be empirically undefined. Only an empirical analysis of the communicative relationships between the different publics within the public sphere will enable evaluation of the democratic potential of counter-public spheres. This open research question is clarified in this chapter with the help of a meta-analysis of previous empirical results. As the term and the phenomenon of counter-public spheres are neither consistently nor sufficiently conceptually clarified, we provide a short theoretical differentiation of the complex term of counter-publicity; a subsequent short synopsis of claims about the democratic and public potential of counter-public spheres will provide the framework for meta-analysis and the interpretation of results.

Theoretical and empirical dimensions of (counter-) public sphere(s) As a theoretical starting point to define counter-public spheres, the complexity of the modern public sphere and its structural basis can be applied to describe the objective and the social dimensions of counterpublic spheres (Ferree et al., 2002; Gerhards and Neidhardt, 1991; Habermas, 1992: 452-53). Accordingly, from a structural perspective the concept refers to three forms of publics (Figure 1). First, it defines critical publics that perceive their positions as marginal in society. By means of alternative media and political campaigns they are targeting coverage of the established mass media in order to enforce their political standing and perception (alternative public sphere). In this case, a distinction can be made between alternative media with a larger audience and, therefore, greater agenda setting power, such as e.g. in Germany the left-wing

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?


newspaper Tageszeitung or Taz1 (“alternative media opinion leaders”), and those with a smaller public reach such as e.g. local open channels (“alternative follow-up media”). On the organizational meso-level (“assembly publics”), counter-public spheres refer to collective and, above all, political processes of learning and experience within alternative organizational structures in the broad field of civil society–such as e.g. NSM and their movement media (participatory public spheres). Furthermore, on the micro-level of interactions and interpersonal communication (“encounters”) various forms of (mostly individual) medial interventions can be distinguished–mostly in the area of new media–as having a basis in alternative communication practice (media activism).2 In addition, when addressed within a communication studies perspective, public sphere and its (counter-) publics are based on complex constitutional conditions, which in turn comprise different dimensions: the structure and the social action aspect, the social context and meaning of public sphere as well as its function and dynamics. These spheres can be transferred into the following methodological-operational set of indicators (see Wimmer, 2007: 243ff.).3 a)

System indicators: From a macro-perspective, the public sphere possesses a structural dimension. From a micro-perspective, publics are enfolded in concrete observable actions and opinions (dimension of actors). The literature for long has understood these dimensions of structure and action as incompatible antagonisms.4

1 This newspaper describes itself as aiming to develop a “concept of actual counter-public sphere”. Meanwhile, it functions as a kind of “bridgehead” in the established mass media public for NSM and NGOs. Taz founders were partially inspired by the French daily Libération and the Italian newspaper Lotta Continua. 2 The boundaries between the various levels of public communication have to be regarded as being very blurry and contingent. This holds true for the public spheres in the form of the NSM in particular. In this case, for instance, the movement’s publicity primarily constitutes the mass media perception and representation and thus the public effect of the NSM. In turn, the perception and response of an alternative public sphere in the established public sphere provide for the internal mobilization and stabilization of the NSM. 3 The list of indicators cannot be complete of course, but is based on the most common theories, models and studies discussed in the area of public sphere research. 4 One reason for this can be seen in the different levels of analysis which are the basis of systems, structural and action theory studies: macro theories mostly examine the general way of functioning and the basic conditions of social systems.

Chapter Two


The idea of the public sphere as a communication system (“public arena model”) combines these two perspectives and makes the abstract concept measurable (e.g. Ferree et al., 2002; Wimmer, 2007: 107ff.). In the course of this, it is possible to distinguish different empirical analysis criteria; Figure 1: Objective and social dimensions of counter-public spheres


c) d) e)

Structural indicators: speaker, audience, programmes structures of the mass media as well as further structural constraints within the framework of public communication; Social action indicators: communication strategies, structures for selection of the media, etc; Content indicators: medial positions, patterns of interpretation, themes, discourses etc. as well as the response of the mass media; Function indicators: from an empirical-classificatory perspective, several indicators measure the performance of the normative dimension of public sphere, especially with regard to its dynamic dimension: transparency, orientation performance and

The explanation of individual action is the priority epistemological aim of social action theories. These different prerequisites bring with them different strengths and weaknesses. As system theories have a descriptive focus, the explanation of public falls short (deficit of explanation). The opposite applies to social action theories: beyond the explanation of individual social action (explicative focus), the great “whole”, e.g. the overriding basic conditions, is often lost (macro description deficit).

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?






accessibility of public communication. In addition, from a political science perspective, certain indicators (discursivity, participation, empowerment and emancipation) must also be listed in the framework of public communication; Effect indicators: from an empiric-operational perspective, the effect is to be understood as a causal relation between different levels of public sphere (encounters, assembly publics, mass media) and its various manifestations-interpersonal and spontaneous communication for encounters; conferences, mailing lists, and demonstrations by assembly publics; and TV, radio, newspapers, etc. for mass media (see Gerhards and Neidhardt, 1991: 79).5 In this respect, for our epistemological interest especially, the indicator influence on mass media content of alternative sources within processes of inter media agenda setting and discourses or campaigning activities is crucial. However, structural influences on established public communication like processes of professionalization and institutionalization, are also mentioned in the literature as indicators of the influence of critical publics; Reception indicators: nevertheless, the analysis of public sphere cannot be reduced to the objectively descriptive indicators mentioned so far. In this way, empirical indicators, such as programme structure and issue trends, would not do justice to the meaning of public communication and its cultural-process-related depth (dimensions of meaning and social context). The following indicators can be named as relating to the subjective dimension of public sphere: individual and collective identities within publics, designs of discourses, symbolic patterns of interpretation, and the situational appropriation of public discourses; Mode indicators: public sphere is last but not least fundamentally connected with technical, social and political developments. Therefore, the empirical analysis does not refer only to national publics or media–as critique of traditional concepts of public sphere has shown. Hence, an indicator is also the way in which public sphere is constituted, how it manifests in its spatial expansion, connectivity, interactivity, etc.

For research and pragmatic reasons, the originally inseparably connected indicator dimensions “effect” and “reception” can be distinguished by the epistemological interest of the study. In this way, the dependent variable(s) in a study should be understood as concerning an aspect of effect (e.g. the change of mind) or an aspect of reception (e.g. listening quota).


Chapter Two

Causal assumptions concerning the communicative relation of counter-public and public The following essential causal hypotheses or relations6 have been identified as central themes in previous research projects–partly as assumptions about possible causes or conditions, and partly in the few studies that have looked empirically at singular explanatory factors (see Wimmer, 2007: 153ff.): Relation 1: The influence of the counter-public sphere on the systemic and functional dimensions of the public sphere a. Relation 1.1: It is often suspected that counter-publicity by non-established political actors as well as by alternative media (in other words, the participatory and alternative public spheres), has a positive influence on structures, actions and content (among others e.g. the completion of the speaker ensemble of the public arena) as well as on certain functions of the public sphere (see Fraser, 1992; Habermas, 1992: 435; Luhmann, 1996: 110); b. Relation 1.2: In contradiction to Habermas, Peters (1994: 73) assumes that the public communication by NSM can also have negative effects on the functional dimension of public sphere, for instance as a restriction on its discursivity; c. Relation 1.3: The decisive intervening variable in this communication process is the public response to political positions of actors from the counter-culture. The mass media decides–it is widely supposed–about the social success of counter-public actors. Relation 2: The influence of counter-public spheres on the subjective sphere of the public sphere Different authors (most prominent Fraser, 1992; Habermas, 1992) postulate that counter-publics facilitate not only a self-determined discursive formation of opinion, but also the constitution and staging of different cultural as well as personal and collective identities (reception indicators).


I choose the open term relation, as theoretically it can comprise positive, negative, structure building and intervening communication connections.

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Relation 3: The constitution of counter-public spheres is tied to certain structural conditions The abstract (normative) demand for counter-public spheres can be transferred into concrete (descriptive) indicators, which are able to show the existence of alternative publics. These rest within the system dimension of public sphere and its aspects of structure, actors and content (e.g. counter-agenda setting, non-hierarchical organizational structures), within the reception dimension (e.g. participation and accessibility of the audience) and the mode dimension (e.g. inclusion of the possibilities of new media, transnational networking). Relation 4: The (de-)construction of mass media public in the framework of counter-public spheres It is frequently postulated that the text offered by the mass media, which is seen as hegemonic, can be critically appropriated and transformed through creative, everyday cultural reception processes (reception indicators such as oppositional codes, collective communication cultures, etc.) (e.g. Fiske, 1994; Giroux, 1999; 2000). Relation 5: The influence of new media on counter-public spheres and their relationship to the public In the theoretical discussion, it is suspected that new media have numerous (positive) effects on both the constitution of counter-public spheres and their communicative relationship to the public sphere (exemplary indicators such as mobilizing, articulating or organizing functions) (e.g. Donk et al., 2004; Downey and Fenton, 2003). However, it has still to be examined to what extent technical change alone can ensure “new” counter-public spheres and to what extent the idea of political counter-publicity is untouched by it. Relation 6: The constitution of autonomous counter-publics It has become clear in previous theoretical analyses that the constitution of counter-public spheres beyond mass media meets normative wishful thinking rather than empirical reality (e.g. Fraser, 1992). When discussing counter-public spheres, the significant boundaries and limitations have to be taken into account–on an individual, organizational, regional and national as well as on a transnational level.7 7

For first approaches towards a comparative research programme (see, e.g. the studies of Almeida and Lichbach (2003) and Downing (1988).


Chapter Two

Meta-analysis of previous research on counter-publics An advanced empirical research programme on the construct of counterpublic can be built on the basis of previous research. For that purpose, a model-oriented classification of previous research is developed in this chapter. The studies are grouped according to the respectively considered forms and dimensions of public (vid supra). This logic is applied mainly because previous research projects in this area of communication studies– as hinted at above–are too diverse for a study-oriented classification. The systematic analysis of articles in leading scientific journals is regarded as one possible approach to the development and the level of a branch of research (e.g. Kamhawi and Weaver, 2003; Riffe and Freitag, 1997). However, my selection goes a step further. In addition to scientific journals, it also includes monographs, anthologies and research reports. The chosen studies explicitly deal with the construct of “counter-publicspheres”, on both a theoretical and empirical level. In the first step I gathered all studies in the years 1970 to 2007 which held an explicit theoretical reference to the construct of counter-public sphere in their title, abstract or the description of the study questioning. Counter-public is understood in the sense of my working definition in all its shades, i.e. from alternative public sphere and participatory public spheres up to media activism (see chapter 2). The theoretical reference framework considered in Wimmer (2007: 153ff.) extended the communication-theoretical perspectives of counter-public sphere(s). To identify relevant studies, the most important German- and English-speaking communication studies databases,8 the annual registers of leading national and international specialized journals9 and the so-called “snowball system”10 were used.


Selected international and German Databases include Communication and Mass Media Complete, CSA Illumina, Datenbank Publizistik und Massenkommunikation, Ingenta, PsycINFO, WISO-Net. 9 Selected international and German scientific journals include: Berliner Journal für Soziologie, Communicatio Socialis, Communication Research, Communication Theory, Communications, European Journal of Communication Research, European Journal of Communication, Forschungsjournal Neue Soziale Bewegungen, Gazette: The International Journal for Communication Studies, Human Communication Research, Javnost–The Public, Journal of Communication, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism Quarterly, Journalist, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, Media, Culture and Society, Media Perspektiven, Medien-Journal, Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, Medien & Zeit, Message, Medium, New Media & Society, Public Opinion Quarterly and Publizistik.

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?


Not all the studies identified were included in the sample. The decisive criteria were: a) Research works dealing with counter-publics in the context of totalitarian political systems or with forms of right-wing extremist counter-publicity were excluded, as these correspond, for different reasons, neither in terms of content nor structurally to the normative context of counter-public sphere in the sense of emancipative and democratic-strengthening public sphere strategies; b) For pragmatic research reasons, I could not include every analysis of critical reception and appropriation processes according to cultural studies, nor the descriptive studies concerning alternative media or NSM.11 The decisive criterion here was–as with all the studies–explicit reference in the research interest to the construct of counter-public in one of its aspects as regards content, e.g. the concept of “counter-public” or the concept of participation from the perspective of democratic theory. In the second step I verified whether the empirical study dealt theoretically but also–intersubjectively verifiable–empirically with the construct of counter-public sphere(s).12 Numerous studies claim to have proven relevance, but they dispense with (1) explanation of their data collection (e.g. Aronowitz, 2000; Mitchell, 1998; Mitra, 2001) or (2) even the empirical foundation of their statements about counter-public (e.g. Hackett and Carroll, 2004; Johnston, 2000; Villa, 2000). Studies using the same data records and the identical research questions (so-called “secondary usage”) were included only once in the sample (e.g. Ferree et al., 2002). The sample cannot claim to be complete; however, the explanatory power of the sample seems to be secure for the underlying area of research because of the sources used and its long time span.

10 Starting from the bibliography of central handbooks in this field (for example Asen and Brouwer, 2001) further literature was researched. 11 The epistemological interest of my meta-analysis does focus on the comprehensive construct of “counter-public” and not only on analysis of NSM or alternative media, which are solely carriers of counter publicity. 12 Concerning the methodology for the studies, compare the brief description of the studies, available online at For the study to be included in the sample, the methodology must meet the scientific standards of media and communication studies.


Chapter Two

Research overview In the following paragraphs, the 74 selected studies are briefly analysed.13 First, I outline the theoretical understanding (see Table 1). Only four studies look at more than one level of public communication in their analysis of counter-public processes (Caldwell, 2003; Ferree et al., 2002; Gerhards, 1993; Wagner, 1998). The remaining studies define counterpublicity in only its macro-, meso- or micro-aspect. It can be seen that only six studies deal empirically with the phenomenon of counter-public spheres on the micro-level in the shape of media activism (Berry, 2003; Caldwell, 2003; Cartwright, 1998; Cho, 2005; Gibbs, 2003; Wagner, 1998). These findings extend especially to the understanding of public sphere in the different studies. In none of the studies is the microdimension of the public sphere (that dealing with encounters) examined either theoretically or empirically. In 5 studies, the public sphere is modelled as an arena, in 28 studies as (normatively charged) discourse, and in 19 as publicity of the mass media. In 22 studies description of the mainstream public sphere is dispensed with altogether and its counterpart dealt with exclusively. Thus, it is also shown empirically that there is neither a theoretical consensus in the research of counter-publics14 nor any agreement about the importance of this construct within communication and media studies. This field can therefore rightly be described as heterogeneous.


For further information about the focus of the studies in terms of content, compare the brief description of the studies available online at 14 O’Donnell (2001) talks about “alternative media”, but means participatory publics. Atton (2002) defines his object of study as an example of “radical media”. However, because of its organizational structure and its content, it can be considered as a study of alternative media (see also Atton, 2003; Cho, 2005). An extreme example is Gillett (2003a; 2003b), who defines both public sphere and counter-public spheres differently in his two studies.

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Table 1: Theoretical understanding of counter-publicity Levels of complexity of counter-publicity

Number of studies

Alternative public Participatory public and alternative public Participatory publics Media activism and participatory publics Media activism

38 2 28 2 4

The empirical focus of examination also shows different emphases. Most of the research, with very few exceptions, concentrates on single countries, in the way of traditional empirical communication studies. Despite the fact that a significant number of publications stated the transnationality of publics and its carriers, from a theoretical point of view, there were only eight publications which attempted country comparisons. The increase in research work and the choice of the period of examination are initial evidence of the relevance and the actuality of the interest in the findings. Since the beginning of 2000, a total of 26 empirical studies has analysed the construct of counter-publicity, nearly as many as in the entire 1990s. Besides the theoretical diversity outlined, analyses of public and counter-public spheres is especially methodologically difficult. Therefore, it is very surprising that 46 studies comprise a perennial period of time (diachronic studies) while 22 studies carry out sample surveys at a certain point in time (synchronic studies). Table 2: Examination periods15 Examination periods

Number of studies

1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2005 Other1 No details 1

= Wischermann’s (2003) period of examination refers to 1894-1914.


In diachronic studies, the end year of the examination period is counted.

3 2 8 28 26 1 6

Chapter Two


The methods employed mirror the diversity of theoretical starting points (Table 4). As expected, content analysis was frequently employed to examine manifest media messages. Interviews were used to collect opinions and experiences. A large number of studies (23 analyses) use a descriptive method to systematize qualitative or quantitative data. However, the nature of empirical examination varies significantly in both extent and quality. Almost consistently, there is no explicit critique of methods, neither is there any detail about the constitution of samples nor the logic behind their evaluation.16 Comparable to the theoretical foundations of the studies, there is no consistent approach to the choice of methods. It is surprising that a majority of the studies use multiple methods to answer their respective research question (42 as opposed to 32 other studies). Table 3: Methodology17 Method

Number of studies

Content analysis, thereof quantitative qualitative Interviews, thereof quantitative qualitative Description Other1

29 18 11 14 5 9 23 8

1 = meta, discourse, secondary, ethnographic and semiotic analyses and participant observation

Model types of counter-public spheres Six conceptions (model types) of counter-public sphere were identified. My criteria of analysis are based on Weber’s (1973[1904]) formation of ideal types. Therefore, these models are no average types, but rather represent certain ideal-typical characteristics and are therefore very heterogeneous in group comparison, but within the groups themselves 16

Exceptions to the rule are Ferree et al.’s (2002), Gerhards’ (1993), Hocke’s (2002) and Kliment’s (1994) case studies. 17 In the case of combined methodologies, only the main method is listed in this table.

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rather homogeneous. In contrast to Weber’s taxonomy of social action, the conceptions of identified model types do not correspond to the social reality but rather refer solely to the empirically described reality of research. In this sense, the study sample is the starting point of the type formation. That is why the identified conceptions are labelled (research) “model types” and not (real world) “ideal types”. The model types are determined using a qualitative method. First, the complexity of counter-public spheres that is the focus of each study was determined; in a second step, the dimensions of public spheres considered in this study, or, respectively, their indicators were extracted. Following this logic, all studies on the subject of alternative public spheres (macrolevel of counter-public spheres) according to their content or campaigns, are combined to one model type: in this case, model type 1–“alternative public sphere as a communicative system”. Figure 2:

Logic of modelling

Level of public communication

Indicators of public sphere

Identification of model type








Empirical study

Alternative public sphere as communicative system


This six model types are characterized by the level of public communication as well as by the dimensions of public spheres considered in the analysis (see Tables 4 to 9).


Chapter Two

Alternative public sphere(s) as communicative system(s) Most studies look at the structures, content and public campaigns of the so-called alternative public sphere (see Table 4). The dimension of the effects is not important here, and the aspects of function, usage and mode of alternative public sphere are considered mostly on a marginal scale, if mentioned at all. It seems problematic that many surveys claim to describe the functional and commonsensical aspects without operationalizing them in their study design. Table 4: Model type “Alternative public sphere as communicative system” Model type Indicators “Alternative public sphere System Effect Function Reception Mode as communicative system” Atton (2002), Atton and x Wickenden (2005), Benson (2003), Beywl (1982), Blöbaum (2004), Breunig (1998), Brosius and Weiler (2000), Buchholz (2001), Büteführ (1995), Dorer (1995), Eilders and Lüter (2002), Gibbs (2003), Haas and Steiner (2001), Harcup (2003), Käsmayr (1974), Ke (2000), Lewes (2000), Menayang et al. (2002), Merz (1998), Pinseler (2001) Blöbaum and Werner x x (1996), Blöbaum (2002), Flemming et al. (2000), Jaenicke and Fingerling (1999), Lenk et al. (2001), Volpers et al. (2000), Weichler (1987) Curran (2003), Dillon x x (2005), Platon and Deuze (2003), Urla (2001), Wagner (2003)

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?

Winterhoff-Spurk et al. (1992) Reisbeck (1983), Rutigliano (2004)






x x

Effects of counter-public spheres Some studies can be subsumed under the category of alternative media and participatory public sphere effects. Effects can be understood in several ways: (1) effect in the form of inter-media agenda setting between alternative and established media (e.g. Mathes and Pfetsch, 1991; Song, 2007); (2) as mass media resonances to counter-publicity (e.g. Almeida and Lichbach, 2003; Bulck and Bedoyan, 2004; Owens and Palmer, 2003); (3) in the everyday life of journalism (e.g. Harcup, 2005); and (4) in the mobilization of alternative media makers, movement actors and their audience(s) (e.g. Gillett, 2003b; Kliment, 1994). Table 5: Model type “Effects of counter-public spheres” Model type Indicators “Effects of counter-public System Effect Function Reception Mode spheres” Bulck and Bedoyan (2004), x Demirovic (1994), Mathes and Pfetsch (1991), Song (2007) Harcup (2005), Kliment x x (1994) Gillett (2003b) x x Almeida and Lichbach x x (2003), Hocke (2002), Owens and Palmer (2003), Scharlowski (1999) Gerhards (1993) x x x Gilcher-Holtey (2000) x x x Ferree et al. (2002) x x x x

Movement publics as a communicative system Another type of study is concerned with the structures, actions and content of assembly public spheres of NSM (system indicators) (e.g. Downing


Chapter Two

1988; Kliment, 1994; Wischermann, 2003) that form an important basis for counter-publicity (model type 1) and its resonance in the mass media (model type 2). Assembly publics establish themselves directly through movement media (e.g., Haunss, 2004; Weber, 2001; Wischermann, 2003), and indirectly through mass media coverage on NSM (e.g. Fahlenbrach, 2002; Wischermann, 2003). Table 6: Model type “Movement publics as a communicative system” Model type Indicators “Movement publics as a System Effect Function Reception Mode communicative system” Downing (1988), Gillett x (2003a), Wall (2003), Weber (2001) Schikora (2001), x x Stephenson (2000) Andretta et al. (2003), x x Haunss (2004) Siapera (2004) x x Wischermann (2003) x x x O’Donnell (2001), x x x Fahlenbrach (2002)

Participatory public spheres as a communicative system Several studies are concerned with participatory counter-public spheres beyond NSM that in part form very loose communicative relationships. These surveys focus mainly on their structures, content, discourses and self-concepts (system indicators). The analysis also considers the functional and subjective aspects of these kinds of counter-public spheres. In this category, three forms of participatory public spheres can be distinguished–publics focused on topics (e.g., Pezullo, 2003; Wagner, 1998; Zhang, 2006), or assemblies (e.g., Atton, 2003) or a hybrid of those two forms (e.g., Kelly, 2003; Maguire and Mohthar, 1994).

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Table 7: Model type “Participatory public spheres as a communicative system” Model type Indicators “Participatory public System Effect Function Reception Mode spheres as a communicative system” Atton (2003), Wagner x (1998), Zhang (2006) Pezzullo (2003) x x Kelly (2003), Maguire and x x Mohtar (1994)

Media activism Media activism emerges as the fifth model type of empirical research, especially in video or film. The strongly explorative studies make it clear that video and film projects can deploy subjective meaning (reception indicators), particularly in relation to the creation of community and identity (Berry, 2003; Caldwell, 2003). These findings do not imply that the phenomenon of net activism is neglected from the perspective of social science. However, none of the available studies from the field of counterpublic sphere research so far are empirical. They can rather be called theoretical-descriptive works. Table 8: Model type “Media activism” Model type Indicators “Media activism” System Effect Function Reception Mode Berry (2003), Caldwell x x (2003), Cartwright (1998)

“Border crossers” The last model type contains studies that, because of their content, do not fit into any of the previous model types. However, what these studies have in common is that they do not only locate counter-public spheres on several levels of complexity, but also relate them to the established mainstream public sphere.18 Besides the constitution of the examined 18

Hence the term border crossers, which, at first sight, might seem peculiar.


Chapter Two

counter-public spheres (system indicators), their social function is of essential interest: Fraser (1994) points to the harsh competition of different competing media publics, established publics and counter-publics in her description of a political scandal. However, she also picks out as a central theme the immanent democratic potential of this “competition” (see also Prott, 2003). Table 9: Model type “Border crossers” Model type “Border crossers” Fraser (1994) Cho (2005), Prott (2003)

Indicators System Effect Function Reception Mode x x x x x

Conclusion The influence of counter-public spheres on the systemic and functional dimensions of public sphere is only partly explored (relation 1.1).19 The analysis of the coverage of alternative media shows that the alternative public receives by now a fixed place as journalistic supplement of mass media public. This applies above all to the radio media sector. This result relates to online media only to a limited extent, as sole criticism is often articulated here without alternatives in terms of content. Direct journalistic influence (e.g., in the framework of inter-media agenda setting or resonance in the mass media) is tied to numerous conditions such as news factors or the editorial policy of the established media (see model type 2). Diachronic analyses show that the serenity and the professionalization of the media work of actors from the counter-culture increased in the 1980s and1990s. The attempts of counter-public spheres to oppose the medial staging of public opinion with not only emotional but also material alternative observations, which was very aggressive in the1970s, has become more moderate. This possibly corresponds to a decreasing authenticity as well as a decreasing political orientation of the counteragenda setting (see model type 3). However, as the sample surveys show, the discursive power (still) lies clearly with the mass media (see model type 2). Exaggeratedly formulated, the counter-agenda setting–following Baudrillard (1981)–is a simulation from the viewpoint of established media, used if it fits the latter’s editorial policy (relation 1.3). 19

Interestingly, the assumed dysfunctional influence of counter-public spheres is empirically not observable (relation 1.2).

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?


For society as a whole, counter-publics only constitute marginal communication processes (so far), which coexist with public processes both in real and virtual public spaces.20 Also, the new media do not seem (yet) to have been able to revive the concept of critique and public counter-agenda setting along a wide front–even though some explorative case studies show successful political campaigns and communicative and emancipating spaces, such as discourses in mailing lists (see model types 3, 4, 5). Alongside the direct attempts of influence, there are also indirect structural influences observable in the sense of established journalism adopting alternative communication practices.21 The third dimension is the mobilization of alternative media producers, movement actors and their audiences. Besides the analytical possibilities of describing the influence of counter-public spheres in the form of effects, normative functions can also be assessed. Following Habermas, the increasing decay and commercialization of the public sphere is problematic from the perspective of democratic theory. In the course of this, the audience appears to a large extent as a passive mass, while political communication and formation of opinion as processes are basically controlled by elites. Counter-public spheres can be seen as corrective in this regard and can hold innovation potential for the established political public sphere and public communication. In many cases, a certain democratic potential is assessed in the sample surveys analysed, e.g. in solidarity actions initiated by counter-publics, in the opportunities to participate in the traditionally exclusive mass media system, and in alternative communication practices especially at the local level (see model types 1, 3, 4). In a similar sense, counter-publics can offer an emancipatory space, which can be used for individual and collective identity-shaping/-sharing as well as for the deconstruction of socially dominant discourses (relations 2, 4). These communicative areas are independently constituted from the mass media in the framework of movement publics (see model type 3) or in the framework of participatory publics (see model type 4). However, few empirical studies can provide support for this. In general, free accessibility and participation in alternative public sphere(s) seem often to be strongly limited. Especially in the radio media


There are indeed numerous critical publics, such as NGOs, protest parties etc., but they are not per se counter-publics. 21 Weichler (1987) was the first to point out these processes from an empirical perspective and subsumes them under the catchphrase “learning aptitude of civic mass media” (see also Harcup, 2005).


Chapter Two

sector social representativeness has not been achieved22 in spite of the potential of digital media technology. Also in the sector of online alternative media constraints (e.g. through editorial teams or models of membership), which increasingly exert influence on the selection and production of news, they show themselves in different ways (e.g. Platon and Deuze, 2003). The results also explain formation and mobilization processes in the framework of counter-public spheres, which have many social and media requirements (see relation 4). Compared to the established media, a structural change to alternative and movement publics is observable, which can be described within the processes of professionalization, commercialization and institutionalization (see model types 1, 3), as e.g. in the adjustment of movement media to established media or its institutionalization. This kind of structural change of movement media has to be assessed ambivalently with regard to content. Thus, a higher professionalism of movement media can be accompanied by higher mass media publicity (e.g. Wall, 2003). However, the downside is a lower authenticity and a lower political orientation regarding content. Tied to this is a lower effectiveness with movement actors (e.g. Gillett, 2003a). These consequences could jeopardize the self-concept as a medium for counter-publicity. As a result of this structural and technical change, especially in the field of new media, an abundance of particularly situational-contextual counter-public spheres is constituted. However, these have been barely empirically described in detail in this theoretical framework (relation 5). Overall, none of the counter-public spheres examined in the metaanalysis can be seen as an autonomous public (relation 6) as they are always in some way connected to the established publics, e.g. in the form of mass media coverage (model types 2, 3), (necessary) funding with public monies (model types 1, 4) or in the framework of political controversies (model types 1, 3, 6). Likewise, this conclusion is reached by the studies on counter-public spheres that are constituted with the help of new media. With regard to content this conclusion is rather ambivalent as both exclusionary and integrative processes are observable. Atton (2003), through his analysis of an alternative information centre, explains the diverse legal, economic and organizational limitations to which participatory publics are subjected. It seems that autonomous 22

Therefore, the group of main users here consists of young men aged 20 to 30 with above-average formal education. In addition, the interest of the audience, the acceptance of their programme and their publicity in general should be estimated as socially marginal.

Revitalization of the Public Sphere?


communicative spaces cannot be established in this way (see relation 6). The possibilities of new media lie in their ability to partly dissolve these limitations, as online-networks can among others develop theme-centred counter-public spheres and independent discourses (Wagner, 1998; Zhang, 2006). However, these publics also, in the course of time, are consistently confronted by the pressures of competition from professional organizations (Wagner, 1998) or rigid legal restrictions (Zhang, 2006) and can thereby lose their autonomy. From a methodological perspective, the quality of the methodological procedure can frequently be critiqued. The analytical separation between normative and analytical criteria is not always made and the different dimensions of the public sphere are not adequately recognized. Some authors analyse aspects of structures, content or campaigning of counterpublic spheres (system indicators), and conclude something about their effect or the realization of functions without being able to validate these conclusions empirically. For instance, Gillet (2003b) postulates an effect of the AIDS movement and its media on the Internet usage of AIDSinfected persons, but confines himself to analysing only selected reception indicators. Or, it is assumed that autonomous websites have an increasing influence on mass media coverage, but only the autonomous online offers are examined (Owens and Palmer, 2003). Here, designs with multiple methods and input-output-analyses, which include several public spheres from a methodological-operational perspective, would provide an opportunity to understand causal processes. Also, considerations as to the connections between different levels of public communication are often neglected in the analyses. As such, the analyses mostly focus–perhaps for pragmatic research reasons–either on the micro-, the meso- or the macro-level of public communication. Comparative studies–especially with regard to European integration–are still lacking for most of the model types.

References Almeida, P.D. and M. I. Lichbach (2003) “To the internet, from the internet. Comparative press coverage of transnational protest events”, Mobilization, 8(3): 249-72. Andretta, M., D. della Porta, L. Mosca and H. Reiter (2003) No global– new global. Identität und Strategien der Antiglobalisierungsbewegung. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.


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Aronowitz, S. (2000) “Unions as counter-public spheres” pp. 83-101 in M. Hill and W. Montag, (eds) Masses, classes and the public sphere. London: Verso. Asen, R. (2000) “Seeking the ‘counter’ in counterpublics”, Communication Theory, 10: 424-46. Asen, R., and D.C. Brouwer (2001) Counterpublics and the state. Albany: State University of New York Press Atton, C. (2002) “News cultures and new social movements. Radical journalism and the mainstream media”, Journalism Studies, 3(4): 491505. Atton, C. (2003) “Infoshops in shadow of the state” pp. 57-69 in N. Couldry and J. Curran (eds) Contesting media power. Alternative media in a networked world. Boulder, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Atton, C. and E. Wickenden (2005) “Sourcing routines and representation in alternative journalism. A case study approach”, Journalism Studies, 6(3): 347-59. Baudrillard, J. (1981) Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Benson, R. (2003) “Commercialism and critique. California’s alternative weeklies” pp. 111-27 in N. Couldry and J. Curran (eds) Contesting media power. Alternative media in a networked world. Boulder, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Berry, C. (2003) “The documentary production process as a counterpublic. Notes on an inter-Asian mode and the example of Kim DongWon”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 4(1): 139-44. Beywl, W. (1982) “Lokale Alternativpresse–eine erste Bestandsaufnahme”, Media Perspektiven, 3: 184-90. Blöbaum, B. (2002) “Strukturwandel der Alternativpresse. Die taz und ihr Publikum” pp. 127-38 in A. Baum and J.S. Schmidt (eds) Fakten und Fiktionen. Über den Umgang mit Medienwirklichkeiten. Konstanz: UVK. —. (2004) Wandel alternativer Öffentlichkeit. Eine Fallstudie zur tageszeitung (taz). Unpublished paper presented to the Luzerner Mediensymposium, Luzern. Blöbaum, B. and P. Werner (1996) “Geliebt, gelobt, gekündigt? Die taz und ihr Publikum. Ergebnisse einer LeserInnen-Befragung” pp. 337-49 in C. Mast (ed.) Markt–Medien–Macht. Publizistik im Spannungsfeld zwischen gesellschaftlicher Verantwortung und ökonomischen Zielen. Konstanz: UVK.

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Breunig, C. (1998) “Offene Fernseh- und Hörfunkkanäle in Deutschland. Strukturen, Programme und Publikum der Bürgermedien”, Media Perspektiven, 5: 236-49. Brosius, H.-B. and S. Weiler (2000) Programmanalyse nichtkommerzieller Lokalradios in Hessen. München: LPR Hessen. Buchholz, K.-J. (2001) “Nichtkommerzielle Lokalradios in Deutschland. Eine Bestandsaufnahme”, Media Perspektiven, 9: 471-79. Bulck, H. van den and I. Bedoyan (2004) The movement against neo liberal globalisation and the media. Friends or enemies? A case study. Unpublished paper presented to the ICA-Conference, New Orleans. Büteführ, N. (1995) Zwischen Anspruch und Kommerz. Lokale Alternativpresse 1970-1993. Systematische Herleitung und empirische Überprüfung. Münster, New York: Waxmann. Caldwell, J.T. (2003) “Alternative media in suburban plantation culture”, Media, Culture & Society, 25(5): 647-68. Calhoun, C. (1992) “Introduction” pp. 1-51 in Calhoun, C. (ed.) Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge: MIT Press. Cartwright, L. (1998) “Community and the public body in breast cancer media activism”, Cultural Studies, 12(2): 117-38. Cho, Y.-C. (2005) The body in pain in the public sphere. Embodiment, self-suspension, and subaltern counterpublics. Unpublished paper presented to the ICA-Conference, New York. Curran, J. (2003) “Global journalism. A case study of the internet” pp. 227-41 in N. Couldry and J. Curran (eds) Contesting media power. Alternative media in a networked world. Boulder, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Demirovic, A. (1994) “Hegemonie und Öffentlichkeit”, Argument, 36(45): 675-91. Dillon, J. (2005) “Political nihilism, alternative media and the 2004 presidential election”, Studies in Media and Information Literacy Education, 5(2). (accessed 20 June 2008). Donk, W. van de, B. Loader, P.G. Nixon and D. Rucht (eds) (2004) Cyberprotest. New media, citizens and social movements, New York, London: Routledge. Dorer, J. (1995) “Struktur und Ökonomie der ‘Alternativpresse’. Eine Bestandaufnahme des nichtkommerziellen Zeitschriftenmarktes am Beispiel Österreich”, Publizistik, 40(3): 327-44. Downey, J. and Fenton, N. (2003) “New media, counter publicity and the public sphere”, New Media & Society, 5(2): 185-202.


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Downing, J. (1988) “The alternative public realm. The organization of the 1980s anti-nuclear press in West Germany and Britain, Media, Culture and Society, 10(2): 163-81. Eilders, C. and A. Lüter (2002) “Gab es eine Gegenöffentlichkeit während des Kosovo-Krieges? Eine vergleichende Analyse der Deutungsrahmen im deutschen Mediendiskurs” pp. 103-22 in U. Albrecht and J. Becker (eds) Medien zwischen Krieg und Frieden. Baden-Baden: Nomos. Fahlenbrach, K. (2002) Protestinszenierungen. Visuelle Kommunikation und kollektive Identitäten in Protestbewegungen. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Ferree, M. M., W. A. Gamson, J. Gerhards and D. Rucht (2002) Shaping abortion discourse. Democracy and the public sphere in Germany and the United States. Cambridge: University Press. Fiske, J. (1994) Media matters. Everyday culture and political change. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press. Flemming, J., H. Rüppel, L. Ninke and E. Lautsch (2000) Organisationsund Kommunikationsstruktur nichtkommerzieller Lokalradios in Hessen. München: LPR Hessen. Fraser, N. (1992) “Rethinking the public sphere. A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy” pp. 109-42 in Calhoun, C. (ed.) Habermas and the public sphere. Cambridge: MIT Press. —. (1994) “Sex. Lügen und die Öffentlichkeit. Überlegungen zur Bestätigung des Bundesrichters Clarence Thomas” pp. 19-42 in Institut für Sozialforschung (ed.) Geschlechterverhältnisse und Politik. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Gerhards, J. (1993) Neue Konfliktlinien in der Mobilisierung öffentlicher Meinung. Eine Fallanalyse. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Gerhards, J. and F. Neidhardt (1991) “Strukturen und Funktionen moderner Öffentlichkeit. Fragestellungen und Ansätze” pp. 31-89 in S. Müller-Doohm and K. Neumann-Braun (eds) Öffentlichkeit, Kultur, Massenkommunikation. Beiträge zur Medienund Kommunikationssoziologie. Oldenburg: Bis. Gibbs P.L. (2003) “Alternative things considered. A political economic analysis of labour processes and relations at a Honolulu alternative newspaper”, Media, Culture & Society, 25(5): 587-605. Gilcher-Holtey, I. (2000) “Der Transfer zwischen den Studentenbewegungen von 1968 und die Entstehung einer transnationalen Gegenöffentlichkeit”, Berliner Journal für Soziologie, 10: 485-500 Gillett, J. (2003a) “The challenges of institutionalization for AIDS media activism”, Media, Culture & Society, 25(5): 607-24.

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—. (2003b) “Media activism and internet use by people with HIV/AIDS”, Sociology of Health & Illness, 25(6): 608-24. Giroux, H. A. (2000) “Counter-public spheres and the role of educators as public intellectuals. Paulo Freire’s cultural politics” pp. 251-67 in M. Hill and W. Montag (eds) Masses, classes and the public sphere. London, New York: Verso. —. (1999) The mouse that roared. Disney and the end of innocence. Boulder, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Haas, T. and L. Steiner (2001) “Public journalism as a journalism of publics. Implications of the Habermas-Fraser debate for public journalism”, Journalism, 2(2): 123-47. Habermas, J. (1992) Faktizität und Geltung. Beiträge zur Diskurstheorie des Rechts und des demokratischen Rechtstaats. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Hackett, R.A. and W. K. Carroll (2004) “Critical social movements and media reform”, Media Development 2004, (1). (accessed 20 June 2008). Harcup, T. (2003) “‘The unspoken–said’. The journalism of alternative media”, Journalism, 4(3): 356-76. —. (2005) “‘I’m doing this to change the world’. Journalism in alternative and mainstream media”, Journalism Studies, 6(3): 361-74. Haunss, S. (2004) Identität in Bewegung. Prozesse kollektiver Identität bei den Autonomen und in der Schwulenbewegung. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. [Identity in movement] Hocke, P. (2002) Massenmedien und lokaler Protest. Empirische Fallstudie zur Medienselektivität in einer westdeutschen Bewegungshochburg. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. Jaenicke, A. and M. Fingerling (1999) Der Offene Kanal Kassel und seine Zuschauer. München: LPR Hessen. Johnston, J. (2000) “Pedagogical guerrillas, armed democrats, and revolutionary counterpublics. Examining paradox in the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas Mexico”, Theory and Society, 29(4): 463-505. Kamhawi, R. and D. Weaver (2003) “Mass communication research trends from 1980 to 1999”, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 80(1): 7-27. Käsmayr, B. (1974) Die sogenannte Alternativpresse. Ein Beispiel für Gegenöffentlichkeit in der BRD und im deutschsprachigen Ausland seit 1968. Augsburg: Maro. Ke, S.-C. (2000) “The emergence, transformation, and disintegration of alternative radio in Taiwan. From underground radio to community radio”, Journal of Communication Inquiry, 24(4): 412-29.


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Kelly, D.M. (2003) “Practicing democracy in the margins of school. The teenage parents program as feminist counterpublics”, American Educational Research Journal, 40(1): 123-46. Kliment, T. (1994) Kernkraftprotest und Medienreaktionen. Deutungsmuster einer Widerstandsbewegung und öffentliche Rezeption. Wiesbaden: DUV. Lenk, W., P. Hilger and S. Tegeler (2001) Offene Kanäle in Niedersachsen. Eine Organisations-, Produzenten- und Programmanalyse. Berlin: Vistas. Lewes, J. (2000) “The underground press in America (1964-1968). Outlining an alternative, the envisioning of an underground”, Journal of Communication Inquiry, 24(4): 379-400. Luhmann, N. (1996) “Systemtheorie und Protestbewegungen. Ein Interview” pp. 175-200 in K.-U. Hellmann (ed.) Protest. Systemtheorie und soziale Bewegungen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. Maguire, M. and L. F. Mohtar (1994) “Performance and the celebration of a subaltern counterpublic”, Text and Performance Quarterly, 14: 23852. Mathes, R. and B. Pfetsch (1991) “The role of the alternative press in the agenda-building process. Spill-over effects and media opinion leadership”, European Journal of Communication, 6: 33-62. Menayang, V., B. Nugroho and D. Listiorini (2002) “Indonesia’s underground press. The media as social movements”, Gazette, 64(2): 141-56. Merz, P. (1998) “Bürgerfunk zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit”, Media Perspektiven, 5: 250-58. Mitchell, C. (1998) “Women’s (community) radio as a feminist public sphere”, Javnost–the Public, 5(2): 73-85. Mitra, A. (2001) “Marginal voices in cyberspace”, New Media & Society, 3(1): 29-48. O’Donnell, S. (2001) “Analysing the internet and the public sphere. The case of Womenslink”, Javnost–the Public, 8(1): 39-58. Owens, L. and L. P. Palmer (2003) “Making the news. Anarchist counter public relations on the world wide web”, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 20(4): 335-61. Peters, B. (1994) “Der Sinn von Öffentlichkeit” pp. 42-76 in F. Neidhardt (ed.) Öffentlichkeit, öffentliche Meinung, soziale Bewegung. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Pezzullo, P.C. (2003) “Resisting ‘national breast cancer awareness month’. The rhetoric of counterpublics and their cultural performances”, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 89(4): 345-65.

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Pinseler, J. (2001) “Sprechen im Freien Radio. Eine Fallanalyse zu Möglichkeiten alternativen Hörfunks”, Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 49(3): 369-83. Platon, S. and M. Deuze (2003) “Indymedia journalism. A radical way of making, selecting and sharing news?”, Journalism, 4(3): 336-55. Prott, J. (2003) Öffentlichkeit und Gewerkschaften. Theoretische Ansätze und empirische Erkenntnisse. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot. Reisbeck, G. (1983) “Stadtteilzeitungen in München. Eine Inhalts- und Strukturanalyse zur Funktionsbestimmung von Stadtteilzeitungen” pp. 51-63 in O. Jarren (ed.) Stadtteilzeitung und lokale Kommunikation. München et al: Saur. Riffe, D. and A. Freitag (1997) “A content analysis of content analyses. Twenty-five years of Journalism Quarterly”, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 74(4): 515-24. Rutigliano, L. (2004) When the audience is the producer. The art of the collaborative weblog. Paper presented at the international symposium on online journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. .pdf (accessed 20 June 2008). Scharlowski, B. (1999) Prozesse kritischer Öffentlichkeitsproduktion. Die Beispiele der communicacion popular in Chile und der entwicklungspolitischen Informationsarbeit in Deutschland. Frankfurt am Main: IKO. Schewe, J. (2003) Netzöffentlichkeit als Alternativöffentlichkeit. Soziale Bewegungen im Internet am Beispiel von “Attac” Deutschland. University Leipzig: unpublished thesis. Schikora, J. (2001) “Politik jenseits der vermachteten Strukturen”–Zur Bedeutung sozialer Bewegungen für den Demokratieprozess in Brasilien. Arbeitspapiere zur Lateinamerikaforschung III-08. Arbeitskreis Spanien-Portugal-Lateinamerika an der Universität zu Köln. Köln: Universitätsverlag Köln. Siapera, E. (2004) “Asylum politics, the internet and the public sphere. The case of UK refugee support groups online”, Javnost–the Public, 11(1): 499-519. Song, Y. (2007) “Internet news media and issue development: A case study on the roles of independent online news services as agendabuilders for anti-US protests in South Corea”, New Media & Society, 9(1): 71-92. Stephenson, M. (2002) “Forging an indigenous counterpublic sphere. The taller de historia oral Andina in Bolivia”, Latin American Research Review, 37(2): 99-118.


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Urla, J. (2001) “Outlaw language. Creating alternative public spheres in Basque free radio” pp. 141-63 in S. Gal and K. Woolar (eds) Languages and publics. The making of authority. Manchester: St. Jerome’s Press. Villa, R. H. (2000) “The right to the city in Los Angeles. Discourse and practice of a Chicano alternative public sphere” pp. 41-61 in M. Hill and W. Montag (eds) Masses, classes and the public sphere. London, New York: Verso. Volpers, H., D. Schnier and C. Salwiczek (2000) Programme der nichtkommerziellen Lokalradios in Niedersachsen. Eine Programmund Akzeptanzanalyse. Berlin: NLM. Wagner, R. (1998) Community Networks in den USA–von der Counterculture zum Mainstream? Münster: Lit. Wagner, U. (2003) “Freiräume im Äther. Freie Radios und die Umsetzung von Public Access”, Medien Journal, 27(4): 32-43. Wall, M. A. (2003) “Press conferences or puppets. NGOs’ vs. street groups’ communication in the battle of Seattle”, Javnost–the Public, 10(1): 33-48. Weber, A. C. (2001) Kommunikation von Befreiungsbewegungen im Internet. CyberGuerillas am Beispiel der Kampagnen zu Chiapas, Kaschmir und Burma. University Mainz: unpublished thesis. Weber, M. (1973 [1904]) “Die ‘Objektivität’ sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis” pp. 146-214 in J. Winckelmann (ed.): Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr. Weichler, K. (1987) Die anderen Medien. Theorie und Praxis alternativer Kommunikation. Berlin: Vistas. Wimmer, J. (2007) (Gegen-)Öffentlichkeit in der Mediengesellschaft. Analyse eines medialen Spannungsfelds. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Winterhoff-Spurk, P., V. Heidinger and F. Schwab (1992) Der offene Kanal in Deutschland. Ergebnisse empirischer Forschung. Wiesbaden: DUV. Wischermann, U. (2003) Frauenbewegungen und Öffentlichkeiten um 1900. Netzwerke, Gegenöffentlichkeit, Protestinszenierungen. Königstein: Ulrike Helmer Verlag. Zhang, W. (2006) “Constructing and disseminating subaltern public discourses in China”, Javnost-the Public, 13(2), 41-64.


Introduction: Lack of research on the reception of Europe-related media offers The discussion on the relationship between Europe and the media until now has been focused on the question what a European public sphere would look like, to what extent it has materialized, how it could be promoted and on the ways it could be analysed.1 Against this theoretical background most of the research in this field exclusively deals with media politics or media coverage. Moreover, few studies stress how reporting on the EU is influenced by different journalistic cultures. The majority of content analyses adopt a narrow definition of what we understand by “Europe” and concentrate on the EU or on concrete EUrelevant events.2 Only a few construct a broader conception of Europe and 1

For theoretical considerations on a European public sphere see Franzius et al., 2004; Hagen, 2005; Trenz, 2005 or Langenbucher et al., 2006. For a systematic overview of the most important empirical studies since 1990 see Machill et al., 2006. 2 Examples are the introduction of the Euro (De Vreese et al., 2001), European parliament elections (Blumer, 1983; Leroy et al., 1994; Reiser, 1994; Kevin, 2001; Lauf et al., 2004; Holtz-Bacha, 2005), the debate on Turkish membership of the European Union (De Vreese et al., 2006) and the EU Constitution Referenda (Berganza, 2006; Schuck, 2006).


Chapter Three

also consider reports on individual European countries (e.g., Sievert, 1998; Kalantzi, 2004). So far, the range of printed media with an emphasis on agenda-setting media, such as quality newspapers (e.g., Díez Medrano, 2003; Eilders et al., 2003; Kalantzi, 2004) or weekly news magazines (e.g., Sievert, 1998), are the most intensively investigated. Studies on European content on television (TV) are mainly limited to major newscasts (e.g., Peter, 2004; De Vreese, 2003), and seldom is more than one type of media taken into account (e.g., Kevin, 2003). At the same time, little attention has been paid to the way different social groups, in different national settings, select, acquire and process Europe-related information presented to them by the media. Theoretical approaches and methods from the tradition of reception studies have rarely been considered by research concerned with the relationship between Europe and the media.3 This is why we argue, in this chapter, for an approach that highlights the relevance of media selection and reception for the way European citizens participate in the public societal discourse on the structure of the European community, which in its own right lends legitimacy to a democratic system (Eder et al., 1998; Trenz, 2004). This chapter focuses more specifically on socially disadvantaged groups in society and the ways that they generate attitudes towards Europe by means of their specific media usage patterns.

Scepticism towards Europeanization among socially disadvantaged groups Currently, large parts of the European population are not comfortable with the idea of a unified Europe. Münch (1999: 105) stresses that identification with Europe increases with income, educational degree and professional status and decreases with age. Similar results are provided by the Special Eurobarometer 220 (European Commission, 2005), which claims that support for membership in the EU clearly increases with education level. When employment status is considered the highest degrees of scepticism are detected among the unemployed, pensioners, housewives/husbands and the working class. Münch (1999: 107) speaks of a kind of “European elite” (i.e. politicians, experts, intellectuals, managers) that supports and carries forward the process of European unification. People on a lower income level, as well as a lower educational and professional status, address this topic with fear and scepticism. As financial prosperity, educational level and occupational status are prevalently perceived as 3

For some expectations see Schönbach, 1995; Peter, 2003 or OPTEM, 2004.

Images of Europe from the Bottom


pivotal dimensions of social inequality these results suggest that– compared to the overall population–socially disadvantaged groups tend to be more sceptical concerning European integration. We consciously speak of these groups in the plural as disadvantage is multi-dimensional. It can occur in various forms within a society and can have different consequences for people’s living conditions. However, according to the findings mentioned above, scepticism towards Europeanization correlates with all three central dimensions of inequality and seems to be widespread among several different socially disadvantaged groups such as less educated or less wealthy people, citizens who are less established in working life or those who are disadvantaged in relation to more than one of these dimensions. One of the reasons for this may be the fact that over the last decades the EU has developed into an important political actor able to influence decisions that affect the distribution of valuable social resources within the European states (Heidenreich, 2006: 18). As such, the EU increasingly affects the living conditions of these groups. However, the possibilities to have an impact on the European decision-making processes remain minor, which is especially problematic for citizens who do not experience any personal benefits from European unification. As the ratification-process of the recent European constitution showed, lack of support from relevant parts of the population can substantially obstruct political decision makers. The agreement of the broader public is therefore regarded as constitutive for the further political success of European integration (Vobruba, 2005: 8). For this reason a democratic European unification process requires vehement efforts regarding the inclusion of socially disadvantaged groups in the member states. To achieve this, it is paramount to transform Europe, which is often experienced as bureaucratic, economy-driven and undemocratic, into a democratic and legitimized societal model by means of the comprehensive public participation of all sub-populations–including sceptical groups such as socially disadvantaged citizens.

Different ways of participating in the mediated public discourse Most of the studies on the European public sphere or on the coverage of European issues in the media are embedded in the tradition of deliberative theories on democracy–mainly with reference to Habermas–and perceive a public sphere as being, “where secular impulses can be articulated against


Chapter Three

the self-independent systems” (Beer, 2004: 31ff, our translation), as a central component of any democratic model. As media are important platforms for societal debates, the public sphere is often equated with mediated public discourse. Yet, there are many other forms of societal communication that must be considered as relevant parts of public negotiation processes, which is why some scholars talk only of public “spheres”, in the plural (see Calhoun, 1992). However, debates presented in different mass media, such as TV, radio or in print media, are followed by big parts of the population and, in principle, open to everyone. This is why it is argued here that mediated mass communication is a crucial part of public spheres. Participation in mediated discourse–as we understand it–is not restricted to active communication on public media platforms. Acting as a communicator and representing one’s interests is important but is not the only way of participating in societal debate. According to Hamelink and Hoffmann (2007: 13) “taking part in deliberations is much more demanding and requires a much more active, interested and engaged citizen than forms of democracy, the quality of whose citizenship is attached to the regular stroll to the ballot box”. This is also true for playing an active part in mediated public debates, as this demands much time and effort in persuading journalists of the relevance and news value of one’s concerns and arguments. Yet, in our perception, participation in the public discourse already starts with reading, listening and watching the views of others and includes processes of perception and interpretation followed by the formation of one’s positions. Therefore taking part in public societal debate is also closely linked to different patterns of selecting, processing and acquiring media offers. Several empirical studies reach the conclusion that the existing European public sphere is only rudimentary (e.g., Gerhards, 2002; Abromeit, 2003; Eilders et al., 2003; Kevin, 2003; Kalantzi, 2004; Peter, 2004; Scherer et al., 2004; Machill et al., 2006), which entails that European citizens of different states take part in distinct national public spheres dealing with various (national or local) issues. However, little attention has been paid to the fact that even within one country, sharing the same public sphere, many people differ in both the fragments of mediated discourse they absorb and the ways they deal with or interpret them. As citizens do not observe all TV and radio programmes, newspapers and magazines, but select media according to their needs in specific situations, they are confronted with different parts of the mediated debates, including those on European issues. Moreover, they differ in the way they deal with

Images of Europe from the Bottom


media contents and make sense of them against the background of their daily lives. According to Beer (2004: 38), the ways of participating in the democratic publicity are affected by the specific cognitive skills of citizens. Based on the work of Piaget he points out that the development of these skills is linked to the social environment and, therefore, influenced by different social positions (Beer, 2004: 38). As reception research shows, this is also true for the ways people select und use media offers. Therefore media usage–“as part of the social structure as a way of living” (Jäckel, 1996: 158, our translation)–must be viewed as a substantial “cultural resource” (Beer, 2004: 29, our translation) which affects the nature of participation of different social groups in the production of public societal discourses on the structure and future of the European community. As such, it is argued here that it is crucial to include and study groups in precarious life-worldly conditions, in the way they select and deal with Europe-related media-content and assess to what extent all this has an impact on their attitudes to Europe.

Current research on the attitudes of socially disadvantaged groups to Europe The study of attitudes of citizens in the different member states to Europe or the European Union (EU) has focused almost exclusively on youth4 or on the entire aggregated population. The most extensive collection of public opinion concerning European topics are the Eurobarometer studies. They are compiled on a bi-annual basis on behalf of the European Commission and are quantitative in nature. Furthermore, they focus primarily on the attitudes of citizens of all member and entry states with regard to European policies. In addition, they investigate which media sources are consulted by the European population in order to derive information about the EU. Like the Eurobarometer survey the European Election Study, another long-term study conducted since 1979, concentrates only on political attitudes across member states. Opinions and attitudes relating to European cultural or social aspects or the European unification process are rarely considered. Both recurrent surveys take into account several characteristics of social inequality, such as education, income or the employment status, for selecting test persons. However, in publicly available reports, the data are very seldom analysed according to 4 See Weidenfeld et al., 1990; Glaab, 1992; Piepenschneider, 1992; Borries, 2002; Wallace et al., 2005; Schlickum, 2005; Schorr, 2007.


Chapter Three

these criteria.5 Also, it is a well documented phenomenon that among other biases, weaker groups of society tend to be under-represented in survey-data (Lewis, 2001). Besides the Eurobarometer surveys and the European Election Study, the European Commission also conducted two qualitative studies on citizen’s attitudes towards Europe (Optem 2001/2004). In both studies focus-group discussions with citizens of the EU member states and entry countries were organized. The first study set out to determine attitudes and expectations of the population in relation to the EU (Optem, 2001). The first relevant findings to be presented on the use of Europe-related media by socially disadvantaged groups stem from secondary dataanalysis. Herzog and Zingg (2007: 16) re-analysed the Austrian, German and Irish data sets of the Standard-Eurobarometer surveys from 2002 and 2005 to find out whether “people with a lower level of education participate in European public sphere differently” from the overall populations of these countries. Similar to the considerations presented earlier in this chapter, the underlying assumption is that the participation of different social groups in the public sphere is linked to their specific usage patterns of Europe-related media content. Herzog and Zingg (2007) concentrate first on education as a criterion for social disadvantage. In a second step they attempted to re-analyse the data-sets to assess differences between the attitudes of the overall population and the attitudes of people with low occupational status. However, this caused some difficulties due to the sorts of categories in the Eurobarometer surveys and the challenges of systematizing occupational status. Herzog and Zingg (2007: 2) “had to use too heterogeneous groups, including for example as well students as unemployed people”. This shows that occupational status cannot be analysed as an isolated variable. Occupational status only makes sense in combination with all other dimensions of inequality. Furthermore, given the methodological weaknesses of surveys in relation to weaker groups in society, secondary analysis of them is in itself also vulnerable to critique. However, Herzog and Zingg’s efforts should be seen as a first important step to assessing in what ways media usage and attitudes towards Europe are related to social status. On the basis of their empirical work Herzog and Zingg (2007) concluded that, overall, similar preferences of sources of information can 5

An exception is the Special Eurobarometer 220 (European Commission, 2005) which shows that both education and the employment status play a substantial role in the support for membership in the EU and the perception of how democracy works within it.

Images of Europe from the Bottom


be observed in the three countries they considered, independent from the educational level (see Figure 1). In all three nations the most important source for information on the EU is TV, followed by newspapers and radio. This ranking is the same for people with high and low educational level and seems to be linked to general media preferences and the different kinds of content provided by these kinds of media. Figure 1: Sources of information on EU 2005 (in %) Sources of information on EU 2005 (in %) TV




never search

90 82


80 70 60

66 62









37 32


30 20




30 29 27

25 17 14



17 6



9 6


0 Austria, all

Austria, low SES

Germany, all

Germany, low SES

Ireland, all

Ireland, low SES

Source: Herzog and Zinng, 2007: 5

However, noticeable differences between the general population and those with lower educational degree can be observed with regard to the Internet as a medium for information provision. While the Internet is seldom used for information seeking on EU-topics–although its relevance increased from 2002 to 2005–this is especially true for people with a low level of education who use the Internet even less to inform themselves. The minor role of the Internet in this group could be the consequence of lack of access to this technology, but may also result from less active information seeking. The latter assumption is reinforced by the fact that a relevant part of this group–9% in Germany, 17% in Austria and 27% in


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Ireland (see Figure 1)–declares that it never searches for information on these issues. Concerning this specific aspect of political disinterest and disengagement, “big differences between the general population and the group with the lowest education level” (Herzog and Zingg, 2007: 5) can be found. Unfortunately, the Eurobarometer data sets do not allow for more detailed analyses concerning, for instance, the use of Europe-related media content because these surveys do not probe this. Herzog and Zingg (2007: 16) expect that more differences between less educated people and the general population would emerge “if different offers (like TV channels, newspaper titles, etc. and genres as well) and the time spent with these offers” are taken into account; so they point out that this would be an interesting task for further research. As lower educated groups “in general use the same sources of information” like other social groups “they in general share the same agenda of EU topics” (Herzog and Zingg , 2007: 5). This is why “people with a lower level of education have [only] slightly different priorities than the average in their country” (Herzog and Zingg, 2007: 16) with regard to future political challenges of the EU. Concerning the relevance of different political fields there are more differences between citizens of diverse countries than between less educated groups and the average of the population. So Herzog and Zingg (2007: 16) emphasize the fact “that the coverage on European politics is still dominated by national perspectives and a real European public sphere does not exist”. Yet, their analysis makes reference only to the political topics that are regarded as important, but does not relate to people’s perceptions of how political actions in these fields should look, to the aims that should be pursued nor to the way these attitudes are linked to specific media usage patterns. According to Herzog and Zingg (2007: 6) “another indicator for the involvement […] in public discourse” is the perceived knowledge about the EU. They argue that citizens who think they are well informed about the EU, are probably also more interested in this topic and more willing to “make up their mind about political issues”. Concerning this point, the analyses shows that many citizens in Austria, Ireland and Germany feel that they are ill-informed about the EU (see Figure 2). Particularly relevant for this chapter is that, more citizens with a low educational background perceived their knowledge on the EU as low than does the average citizen (Herzog and Zingg, 2007: 6).

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Figure 2: Knowledge on EU 2005 (self-estimated in %) Knowledge on EU 2005 (self-estimated in %) all


80 69

70 57















20 10 0 Austria



low knowledge




high knowledge

Source: Herzog and Zingg, 2007: 6

In summary, Herzog and Zingg established differences between people with low educational status, and the average population, regarding information sources, attitudes, knowledge and identification with Europe. They consider different reasons for this, such as lack of interest in European issues or different media usage patterns. However, they do point out that on the basis of their analysis they cannot explain whether and to what extent different media usage patterns fuel this scepticism. Nevertheless, they conclude that disadvantaged and socially excluded groups in society “seem to have a different approach to European discourse”, which is why they think it is “worth to take a closer look at the group of less educated people […] and their media use” (Herzog and Zingg, 2007: 16). In order appropriately to understand the role of the media in the formation of attitudes towards Europe, as well as the consequences of social exclusion, a theoretical and methodological perspective is needed whose starting point should be a broad perception of attitudes towards Europe and an ability to understand the interconnectedness of different media and the concrete patterns of their embeddedness in people’s everyday lives.


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Attitudes towards Europe6 Attitudes towards Europe are understood here in the broadest sense, including cognitive, emotional and practical aspects. As such, they do not only consist of concrete knowledge, e.g. on the member states or the procedures of the EU’s decision making process, but also relate to stereotypes and attitudes regarding “Brussels” or to information about member states for instance. In addition, they include competencies, orientations and experiences on a practical level. Therefore, theoretical considerations on this topic should be integrative in terms of combining all aspects of knowledge, emotion and behaviour towards Europe and its neighbours. Following the logic of social-psychological constructs, attitudes are conceived as psychological constructs that include everything a person knows, thinks and feels about an object and/or issue. Attitudes must be distinguished from opinions, which are less extensive, less stable and usually considered as being a part of attitudes. Attitudes could be conceptualized as situation-independent orientations of the individual towards an object/issue that picture, interpret and rate the social environment in a structured way. As such they influence thinking and feelings and function as dispositions for the behaviour related to this object/issue. These orientations consist of a) cognitive or knowledge-related; b) affective or emotion-related, and c) connotative or action-related constituent parts. From this perspective dealing with attitudes towards Europe requires a balanced approach to cognitive as well as affective, to “rational” as well as “irrational” aspects. The basic idea is that all of these dimensions will be relevant in terms of shaping concrete behaviour towards Europe and concrete activities on a European level. Attitudes are learnt and are subject to changes through learning processes. Consistent with our broad understanding of attitudes towards Europe, a differentiated approach which systematically includes all three levels of attitudes needs to be considered. Since this chapter is not only interested in attitudes towards the EU but also towards Europe in general, it is necessary to take into account the attitudes of an individual towards a set of different objects that are linked to the term “Europe” and to each other in a specific pattern. For this reason a psychological construct is needed, describing a structured bundle of attitudes towards a group of objects that differs from person to person. 6

For the perception of attitudes towards Europe see Paus-Hasebrink et al., 2005.

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Media reception in the context of media repertoires7 In order to appropriately understand the media’s role in the formation of knowledge on Europe, it is not sufficient to concentrate on specific types of media or media content. It is necessary to think in terms of comprehensive media environments–a metaphor which refers to the observation, that today’s life is deeply inter-woven with different types of media. Cross-media environments cannot be understood as just the sum of different single media contacts. On the contrary, we have to develop a theoretical and methodological perspective which is able to understand the interconnectedness of different media and the concrete patterns in which they are “domesticated” in everyday life (Silverstone, 2005). In order to meet these challenges we propose an approach to media use that focuses on media repertoires (Hasebrink et al., 2006). However, because a coherent model to theorize media repertoires conceptually is lacking, we start from the relevant characteristics attributed to media repertoires. Repertoires are the result of many single situations of selective behaviour. Thus, they are compositions of many media contacts, including a variety of different media and media content. They are conceived as being relatively stable over time and, as such, characteristic for individual users. Consequently, we deal with stable differences or similarities between individuals. In identifying media repertoires we derive a basis to build types or categories of media users, who can be characterized by their respective media repertoires. In transferring this general approach to the particular topic of knowledge of Europe, the assumption is made that different parts of the population may be characterized by a specific repertoire of Europe-related media content and that any research on media influences on the knowledge of Europe has to consider these cross-media repertoires and take into account all kinds of media and types of contents out there.

Cultural practices and the concept of “habitus”8 Both the knowledge of Europe and media use in cross-media environments are rooted in everyday culture. Thus, the links between these two spheres should be traced back to their common basis, i.e. the construction of meaning in the context of traditional cultural patterns. According to Bourdieu (1979/1997) social action takes place within a social field where 7 8

See Hasebrink et al., 2006 and Paus-Hasebrink et al., 2005. For the following see Paus-Hasebrink, 2006.


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aims are followed and certain patterns of action are socially “accepted” (Weiß, 2000: 47, our translation). From this perspective, the focus lies on social spheres or, following Bourdieu, on social milieux. Social milieux and “habitus”–their phenomenological manifestations–reflect basic conditions of living. The concept of habitus also includes the “bodily inscribed” and “non-cognitive” categories which can be described as common knowledge (Lash, 1996: 268) and allows broadly shared meanings to be taken into account. These categories, which refer to the embeddedness of “the self” into a network of biographical practices, point to the necessity of common meaning production and interpretation. Against this background we are interested in how people make use of media in order to cope with the challenges of their everyday lives. In this regard, we refer to a concept developed by Ralph Weiß (2000) for the use of TV, that has its starting point in the strategies of meaning construction. With reference to Habermas and Bourdieu, Weiß (2000) advanced the socio-psychological concept of “practical meaning”. Under the heading “patterns of praxeology” he developed a theoretically grounded system of orientations that organizes the everyday actions of people as generative principles. He furthermore elaborated an overview of different forms of perception that illustrates the “way in which the TVviewer internalises the meaning of the perceived” (Weiß, 2001: 249, our translation). Media-related action can only be understood as a process which is a constitutive part of everyday culture. This process is characterized by the constructive transformation of the intended meaning of institutionally produced symbolic material on the one hand, and the constructive potential of the individual acquisition against the background of everyday orientations on the other hand (Weiß, 2003: 25). Thus, by considering media-related actions as an integral part of everyday culture we are able to link the orientations of practical meaning that are adapted to the structural conditions of everyday practice, with the creativity, self-directed purpose and emphasis of cultural action. This general model of media-related action can be transferred to the case of European knowledge development. Europeans make use of different media and genres, i.e. different traditions of discourse referring to Europe. Against the background of their everyday lives they make sense of the single messages and the repertoire as a whole, and they construct their overall view on Europe.

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The problem of defining criteria for social disadvantage As a precondition for empirical research on underprivileged social groups it is imperative to develop a definition of what we mean by social disadvantage. This definition should be sufficiently transparent to enable selection of respondents, but at the same time grasp the multi-dimensional character of inequality. Central to such a definition is the concept of social inequality resulting from long-term asymmetrical distribution of resources and skills. According to Hradil (2001: 30) one can speak of social inequality when some people regularly obtain more of a society’s “valuable goods” than others due to their position in the structure of social relationships. The term “valuable goods” refers to social and material resources which are not acquired for their own sake, but used to obtain goods or services that directly determine people’s welfare (Ludwig-Mayerhofer, 2004: 98). Overall, scholars agree on the central dimensions of social inequality; in addition to the “meritocratic triad” (Kreckel, 1992) of financial prosperity, educational degree and occupational status, prestige and power are also occasionally suggested (Berger et al., 2004: 12). However, conflicting positions can be identified on the question of whether and which additional dimensions should be taken into account with regard to “processes of destructuration and individualization” (Lamprecht et al., 1998: 2) in modern societies. Nevertheless, a good deal of empirical studies focus only on the three basic dimensions mentioned above, not least because of pragmatic reasons. Following Hradil’s (2001) definition and presuming that financial welfare, educational degree and occupational status are the basic factors of structural social inequality, all members of a society who have a lower status than others in one of these three dimensions are regarded as socially disadvantaged. The question therefore arises which standard of comparison should be used, and, analogous to the definition of poverty, a normative limit must be found for the definition of social disadvantage. One possibility is to fix a marginal value within each of the three dimensions. This would entail that people with an inconsistent social status cannot be regarded as disadvantaged per se which contradicts the social reality of modern societies.9 As such, we suggest defining criteria for social disadvantage with the help of a model enabling us to address the extent of an individual’s social disadvantage across all three dimensions. 9

According to this definition a long-term unemployed, 50-year-old woman with an income below the poverty line is not regarded as socially disadvantaged if she holds a university degree.


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This approach allows account to be taken of people with inconsistent social status, and also documents the diverse forms of social disadvantage. The model consists of a matrix rendering the three central dimensions of social disadvantage in the form of scales with four grades (see Table 1). Each of these grades corresponds to a different social status within the respective dimension and is matched to a value between 0 and 3. By classifying the status of an individual within all three dimensions and summing the corresponding values one gets a figure that indicates the extent of disadvantage of this person compared to a person in the most advantageous social position. We suggest a threshold value of six points as the consequence of a higher threshold value would be an unintentional limit within one of the three dimensions. A lower limit would include people with living conditions that do not fit the common perception of low social status. This model strongly reduces the complexity of social structure and inequality and therefore should not be misunderstood as a theoretical approach on social disadvantage. It is rather an attempt to find a reasonable, but practicable way to assess social disadvantage on the basis of limited information about their living conditions, and select respondents for more in-depth analysis.

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Table 1: Levels of social disadvantage across 3 dimensions Dimension / Score 0




Level of education Third level education: universities (of applied science) Upper secondary education: Alevel Apprentice, lower secondary education

Material status10 Top quarter of income

No formal education or primary education

Lowest quarter of income

Third quarter of income

Second quarter of income

Employment status11 Full-time employment or retirement with sufficient provision against social risks12 Employment to the desired extent with insufficient provision against social risks Involuntary part-time or marginal employment, short term unemployment Long-term unemployment

Addressing and linking different levels of investigation13 Appropriate research on how social groups with low socio-economic status generate their attitudes towards Europe in relation to their specific media use does not need only a suitable definition of social inequality, it also requires the methodological consideration of two levels of media communication. First, the content and structure of the media most commonly used by socially disadvantaged groups and second, specific ways to deal with these media contents in an “active process of reception and attribution of meaning” (Paus-Haase, 2000: 17, our translation). In order to meet these challenges the levels of analysis should refer to 10

According to the EU-SILC survey material status is measured by the “equivalized total net income” of an individual. 11 Employment status is of importance for social inequality as it affects existential living conditions such as financial independence and economic security. Therefore, the four status groups within this dimension vary in the extent of employment and the provision against social risks. 12 Sufficient provision against social risks includes retirement, health and unemployment insurance to the extent a person can live on it. 13 For a detailed research design see Paus-Hasebrink et al., 2007.


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socially disadvantaged groups and their attitudes and media use, as well as to the coverage of Europe in different types of media. To adequately analyse the reception-side at least three different research steps are required. First, a secondary analysis of the most recent Eurobarometer surveys will allow us to construct a kind of representative “base-line”, which would contextualize other results, Building on Herzog and Zingg (2007) the surveys can be re-analysed in relation to the question to what extent attitudes towards Europe and the use of Europe-related media content are linked to the indicators of social status. Second, industry-driven audience surveys need to be analysed in relation to the question about what kinds of media and media content are frequently being used by disadvantaged groups. This will allow us to get a clear picture of media-usage patterns of socially disadvantaged groups and thus provide a basis for the media-related research. As a result of this research-step, TV-channels, TV-genres and specific Europe-related TVprogrammes, radio channels, newspapers and magazines can be assessed according to their positions within the media repertoires of socially disadvantaged groups. Media contents with the highest affinity to these groups can then be analysed in more detail in the other modules. Finally, individual attitudes towards Europe, as well as the formation of these attitudes will form the core subject of the research-design mentioned above. In order to gain in-depth insights which consider biographical background, as well as current social status and everyday conditions, qualitative interviews–constructed in a panel-design–are arguably the most suitable way to investigate people’s attitudes on Europe. Apart from social status, age and gender should be key-criteria. To investigate the media side–or the role of media coverage in how socially disadvantaged groups construct their images on Europe–three further steps seem appropriate: 1) a synopsis of existing analyses of media coverage of Europe; 2) media-monitoring concerning information, as well as entertainment content of print media which are frequently used by socially disadvantaged people; and 3) critical discourse analysis of the media coverage of a highly-debated European issue, such as introduction of the Euro, the debate over the European Constitution, or the debate on EU-membership of Turkey. To meet the full potential of these efforts, all the above mentioned steps should be systematically linked to each other throughout the research process. In terms of the complexity of the topic it would seem fruitful to design the research with reference to the concept of triangulation (Denzin, 1978; Schrøder, 1987). This concept enables multiple theories, methods and empirical material to be combined in such a way that they complement

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each other and bring together different aspects regarding and perspectives on the subject of inquiry (Paus-Hasebrink, 2004: 5). In order to avoid a simple addition of several methods, triangulation should take place at different levels. Denzin (1978) distinguishes between four basic types of triangulation which are common in social sciences–theory triangulation, investigator triangulation, data triangulation and methodical triangulation. All these are helpful in their own right to meet the challenges of investigating how socially disadvantaged groups construct their attitudes towards Europe.

Conclusion The conceptual approach proposed in this chapter focuses on social groups that have so far been neglected within the discourse on European unification although they are particularly affected by political decisions on a European level and their scepticism may have a negative affect on the success of the European integration process. The interdisciplinary approach presented, including theoretical considerations from research on social structure, inequality, European integration and media reception, can bring new aspects, perspectives and questions into the discussion on Europe and the media. Furthermore it aims to contribute by developing a discourse and way of thinking “that considers informal and communication practices that take place in everyday life as much as formal and institutional processes” (Georgiou, 2005: 34), which according to Georgiou is urgent for a meaningful debate around social exclusion. To appropriately meet the challenges of research in this field this chapter proposes adoption of a methodological approach based on the concept of triangulation. Both quantitative (secondary) data analysis and qualitative research complement each other and take into consideration both media contents and the way citizens embed these into their everyday lives. The attitudes of socially disadvantaged groups towards Europe, as well as the role of media in shaping these attitudes, are highly relevant for politicians, political organizations, media professionals and critical media observers. It is therefore paramount to communicate the research outcomes–the attitudes, interests and fears regarding the European unification process of socially underprivileged groups to the general public, as well as to media producers, journalists, politicians and social or advocacy organizations.


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Paus-Hasebrink, I. and U. Hasebrink (2005) “Knowledge of Europe and Cross media Environments. Conceptual and methodological challenges for audience and reception studies”, paper presented at the First European Communication Conference KIT, 24-26 November 2005 in Amsterdam. Paus-Hasebrink, I. (2006) “Zum Begriff ‘Kultur’ als Basis eines breiten Verständnisses von (AV-) Kommunikation im Rahmen von Alltagskultur” pp. 13-52 in I. Paus-Hasebrink, J. Woelke, M. Bichler, A. Pluschkowitz Einführung in die audiovisuelle Kommunikation. München, Wien: Oldenbourg Verlag. Paus-Hasebrink, I. and Ch. Ortner (2007) “Socially Disadvantaged Groups and their Attitudes towards Europe–A Conceptual Approach”, paper presented at the ECREA Symposium on Equal Opportunities and Communication Rights: Representation, Participation and the European Democratic Deficit, 11-12 October 2007 in Brussels. (accessed 30 May 2008). Peter, J. (2004) “Kaum vorhanden, thematisch homogen und eher negativ: Die alltägliche Fernsehberichterstattung über die Europäische Union im internationalen Vergleich” pp. 146-161 in L.M. Hagen (ed.) Europäische Union und mediale Öffentlichkeit: Theoretische Perspektiven und empirische Befunde zur Rolle der Medien im europäischen Einigungsprozess. Köln: Halem. Piepenschneider, M. (1992) “Die europäische Generation. Europabilder der Jugendlichen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”, Schriftenreihe der Forschungsgruppe Jugend und Europa, vol.1. Bonn: Europa Union Verlag. Reiser, S. (1994) Parteienkampagne und Medienberichterstattung im Europa-Wahlkampf 1989: Eine Untersuchung zu Dependenz und Autonomieverlust im Verhältnis von Massenmedien und Politik. Konstanz: UKV. Scherer, H. and S. Vesper (2004) “Was schreiben die anderen? Ausländische Pressestimmen als Vorform paneuropäischer Öffentlichkeit–Eine Inhaltsanalyse deutscher Qualitätszeitungen” pp. 195-211 in L.M. Hagen (ed.) Europäische Union und mediale Öffentlichkeit: Theoretische Perspektiven und empirische Befunde zur Rolle der Medien im europäischen Einigungsprozess. Köln: Halem. Schlickum, Ch. (2005) “Europäische Identität oder reflektierter Umgang mit kultureller Vielfalt: Ergebnisse einer empirischen Untersuchung zu den Einstellungen von Schülern” pp. 131-147 in L. Wilfried (ed.)

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Europäische Gesellschaft. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Schrøder, K. (1987) “Convergence of Antagonistic Traditions? The Case of Audience Research”, European Journal of Communication, 2(1): 731. Schönbach, K. (1995) “Der Beitrag der Medien zu Europa: Rezeption und Wirkung” pp. 13-52 in L. Erbring (ed.) Kommunikationsraum Europa, Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Publizisik und Kommuikationswissenschaft (DGPuK), vol.21. Konstanz: Ölschläger. Schorr, A. (2007) Junge Europäer in Deutschland: Ortsbindung, Mediennutzung und europäische Orientierung. Konstanz: UVK. Schuck, A. (2006) “Campaign Effects on Voter Turnout in the Dutch EU Constitutional Referendum”, paper presented at the annual ICA conference, 19 June 2006 in Dresden. Silverstone, R. (2005) Media Technology and Everyday Life in Europe. Ashgate: Aldershot. Sievert, H. (1998) Europäischer Journalismus: Theorie und Empirie aktueller Medienkommunikation in der Europäischen Union. Opladen, Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. Trenz, H.J. (2004) “Öffentlichkeit und die gesellschaftliche Integration in Europa” pp. 81-104 in C. Franzius, U.K. Preuß (eds) Europäische Öffentlichkeit. Baden-Baden: Nomos. —. (2005) Europa in den Medien: Die europäische Integration im Spiegel nationaler Öffentlichkeit. Frankfurt am Main: Campus. Vobruba, G. (2005) Die Dynamik Europas. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Wallace, C., Datler, G. and R. Spannring (2005) “Young people and European citizenship”, Reihe Soziologie, vol.68. Wien: Institut für Höhere Studien. Weidenfeld, W. and M. Piepenschneider (1990) Junge Generation und Europäische Einigung: Einstellungen, Wünsche, Perspektiven. Bonn: Europa Union Verlag. Weiß, R. (2000) “‘Praktischer Sinn’: Soziale Identität und Fern-Sehen: Ein Konzept für die Analyse der Einbettung kulturellen Handelns in die Alltagswelt”, Medien und Kommunikationswissenschaft, 48(1): 42-62. —. (2001) Fern-Sehen im Alltag: Zur Sozialpsychologie der Medienrezeption. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. —. (2003) “Alltagskultur” pp. 23-32 in H.-O. Hügel (ed.) Handbuch populäre Kultur: Begriffe, Theorien und Diskussionen. Stuttgart, Weimar: Metzler.



Introduction: How is the “feminine” represented in Portuguese popular newspapers? During the 1970s, women progressively became aware of the political and social power of representation. This situation encouraged the study of the articulation of media discourses–understood as major vehicles of public representation(s)–and the construction of gendered social identities. The debate around the methodological flaws of these research works stimulated concerns over an in-depth understanding of the latent signifiers and ideologies within mediated discourses and the socio-contextual elements of journalistic work. Making use of theoretical and methodological inputs which interrelate gender and media theories on the one hand, and journalism studies on the other, this chapter1 poses the following basic questions: How is the feminine represented in the Portuguese popular press? Which stereotypes of femininity (i.e. the social roles of women) can we perceive in these papers? How does the popular press contribute to the sedimentation of feminine autonomy and power, to full equality and citizenship, and provide a public debate on the condition of women? Inspired by these questions, in this chapter we elaborate on the conceptual definition of Feminism, and discuss the methodological strategy and results deriving from an empirical analysis of the Portuguese popular newspapers Correio da Manhã and 24Horas. The main editorial 1

This chapter draws on findings of the research project “The Feminine in Portuguese Press: Representation, Negotiation and Agency”, funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation.

Representation of the “Feminine” in the Portuguese Popular Newspapers


patterns underlying the symbolic construction of the feminine and its interrelation with the assumed social functions of women and normal/deviant conceptions, can be interpreted according to four hypotheses. Firstly, that these newspapers are conservative in their ideological frame. Secondly, that they reflect the dominant power relations and the gap between social classes, giving privilege in the news selection to extremes in the social spectrum (i.e. public figures and celebrities versus more underprivileged social groups). Thirdly, that the media coverage shows clear differences in the media attitude towards personalities and ordinary citizens. Fourthly, that media discourses clearly define the frontiers between norm and deviance. This analysis will allow us to define the dominant perspective of femininity represented in these newspapers and elaborate on the hegemonic articulation of gender identities We deal with liberal and radical feminist concepts, the former consisting of a crystallization of traditional Western liberal ideals, such as emancipation, equality and individual autonomy, regarded as promoting the political and socio-economic rights of women and the struggle against discrimination in both the private and the public spheres (Álvares, 2005). Presuming the existence of a patriarchal universality, radical feminism posits a singular feminist essence against the cultural dominance of masculinity. By celebrating a feminine universal nature, radical feminism uses the concept of reproduction as a symbol of this universalism, investing it with a positive connotation. In much the same manner as reproduction becomes the marker of the distinction between woman versus man, it also metaphorically expresses patriarchal relations of domination/subjection that are ideologically reproduced in everyday life.

Popular newspapers Popular newspapers show little distance and great emotionality when reporting events (see Bird and Dardenne, 1988; Winston, 2002). These papers rely more heavily on images than words in their presentation, with the aim of appealing to readers’ emotions, helping to construct a sort of common sense shared by their audience. In contrast, quality newspapers tend to promote in-depth analysis, are more centred on hard news and information and display greater distance from events. In a way, the content of the popular newspapers provides extension to the variety and irregularity of everyday life and its human and erratic pulse, whereas quality papers present topics in a more idealized and intellectual way. Popular newspapers are meant for a general audience. In


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the view of Bourdieu (1999), these newspapers are targeted at those who submit themselves to politics, the representatives of “opinion agie” (who submit to hegemonic opinions), whereas quality newspapers address mainly public opinion makers and decision makers, who constitute the “opinion agissante”, in their articulation of hegemonic arguments. Anchored on the matrix of these distinctions, popular newspapers seem to aspire to capture the surface of “the real”, although they aggravate elements of sensationalism and drama, in a process of narration of reality (with its plots and character types). The smaller presence of order and symmetry is seen as a sign that the newspaper registers the events seismographically, in a more descriptive than explanatory, argumentative or critical way. The narrative language of popular newspapers is structured around personalization and sensationalism (Grisprud, 1992) and results in the processes of dramatization, through which news fits into narrative structures with identified roles (such as victim, hero or villain), and of polemicization, giving emphasis to the elements of confrontation, disagreement, opposition or evaluation. The ultimate consequence of this narrative organization of journalistic discourse is short, one-topic news items (see Bird and Dardenne, 1988). The popularization of discourse is also seen in the conversational style used by the popular newspapers to create an “illusion of informality, familiarity, friendliness” (Fowler in Sparks and Tulloch, 2000: 27). This informal language involves idiomatic expressions and proverbs, as well as the creative use of punctuation to simulate alterations in rhythm and intensity. First-names and diminutives are often used. This effort to bring the reader closer to the story is further stressed when the paper talks directly to the reader and sometimes even simulates the answer–a process Norman Fairclough (1991) identifies as “synthetic personalization”. These newspapers sometimes suspend their objectivity by including ironic remarks. Popular newspapers are targeted at the lower to middle classes, and position themselves in the market as cheap despite their investment in visual aspects. Although dependence upon advertising underpins all commercial media, the quality newspapers target the traditional middle to upper classes. Popular newspapers maintain a strong connection to the “feminine” in terms of their readership. Since the end of the 19th century, feminine audiences have been the excuse for including soft news, humaninterest stories and for taking image into account. Therefore, popular journalism is identified with feminization (Holland, 1998). The realm of women as readers has a space in the public sphere that is strongly

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identified with trivia. Nevertheless, tabloidization is a general tendency in media system (Grisprud, 1992; Turner, 2006). That very identification of tabloidization with the feminine may have provided the opportunity for the gradual entrance of women in media production (van Zoonen, 1998), especially with the “the most noticeable shift in print journalism over the last decade: the trend towards celebrity news” (Day, 2004: 22). Feminists believed that more women journalists would mean a greater and better representation of women in the press (van Zoonen, 1998). That, however, proved to be an illusion, as women had to step up into “masculine” newsrooms, to prove their professionalism precisely by adopting masculine professional standards (Silveirinha, 2004: 21; van Zoonen, 1998) and were allocated to sections mostly considered to extend their roles in the home (van Zoonen, 1998). In fact, the assimilation of women into a masculine journalistic culture led to a perpetuation of the predominant visibility given to men. As journalists follow professional routines that establish news agendas, if men continue to be the main agents of the social and public spheres, they are also hegemonic as official sources (Silveirinha, 2004: 22). But what about the content in this changing news production context?

Representing the “feminine” This chapter analyses the representation of the feminine on two Portuguese popular newspapers, Correio da Manhã and 24Horas, through content and discourse analysis, combined with the use of Nudist software. These papers were chosen because they are two of the five most popular daily papers published in Portugal. Twenty-one issues of each paper from three random weeks (first week in February, second week in March and the third week in April) are analysed. While Correio da Manhã is a popular newspaper, 24Horas is closer to a tabloid. First published in the 1980s, Correio da Manhã is the leading daily newspaper in Portugal, with an average daily circulation of around 110.000. 24Horas was first published in 1998 as a red-top governed by the news-values of “famous people, television, football, money, crime and news”, presented with a strong emphasis on image. Printed almost integrally in colour, on Saturdays the edition is oriented towards women and includes a lifestyle magazine. 24Horas is closer to a tabloid than is Correio da Manhã, yet it is still within the popular newspaper format. Most of its readers are women and it is read mostly by middle, middle-low


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and low class audiences.2 It had an average circulation of 43,000 copies for the weeks analysed.3 The analysis combined and conceptualizes a typology of variables and categories grounded in a conceptual framework. Using liberal feminist theories, we define two main categories, namely, autonomy and equality.4 We should point to some methodological constraints from the outset. We decided not to consider the formal aspects of news reporting or to analyse the representations that accompanied them which are of great importance in the discourse of the popular press. Moreover, we do not discriminate the positions and roles women occupy in such reports–as protagonists, news sources, witnesses, victims, active or passive subjects. Our focus is on the feminine representation with regard to a framework of analysis derived from feminist theories; through an in depth not a diachronic analysis, we wanted to understand the actual representation of femininity in these newspapers, bearing in mind their ideal representation in an equal society, although acknowledging the journalistic context that helps to explain the gap between them.

Maternity Both papers consider motherhood the most expressive category of the private sphere. Motherhood seems to be a central dimension in a woman’s life. Women are also considered responsible for taking care of the family and the home, and are often represented in connection with the family. However, the signs of incompatibility between family/caring and work/job/profession or political participation eventually emerge in discrete ways, such as a woman sprinter complaining about difficult it is for 2

Source: “Report of Regulation 2006”, from Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (Portuguese Regulatory Agency), (12 December 2007). 3 The selection and transcription of the references to “feminine” as subject or object of news constituted a total of 841 text units (one or more paragraphs of news). 4 Within the autonomy category we included the sub-variables employment/u nemployment; financial availability/financial unavailability; compulsory schooling/non-compulsory schooling; mobility/immobility (geographical and social); sexual activity/abstinence; abortion/non-abortion; conjugal relationships/ non-conjugal relationships. Within equality, we included the following subvariables: remunerative equality/remunerative inequality; judicial power: plaintiff/defendant; power in the public sphere; power in the private sphere (caretaking, home management, maternity (parental protection (education of children, guidance of children), body (health, beauty).

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women to go to the gym because of their family responsibilities, as if men had none (24Horas, 19 April 2006). An overall tensional construction of feminine portraits can therefore be identified. This construction is split between the legitimacy of women’s presence in the public sphere (working women, with successful careers or holding political positions) and the continuity of the assumption of their strong connection to private sphere responsibilities (women who are mothers and take time to take care of their children). We show that the incompatibility between motherhood and work is stressed especially in the case of celebrities. One of the most striking symbolic representations of women in the journalistic discourse of the popular press assumes an underlying social and moral judgement of approval or condemnation, as the newspaper (re)produces socially shared evaluations of the “good” and the “bad” mother. Barbara Barnett (2006: 412) argues that this is one of the family myths integrated in the journalistic repertoire of “news stories”: “the good mother is the consummate nurturer; the bad mother, the consummate destroyer”. In a wider context, within contemporary societies, maternity is presented as “a supreme calling, a happy achievement, a heavenly blessing, a womanly profession, the consummate feminine achievement” (Barnett, 2006: 411). Women are supposedly vested with a “natural” feminine instinct, giving them an angelic temperament and making them loving and tender towards their children and exceptionally attentive to their needs (Barnett, 2006: 411). Mothers tend “naturally” to sacrifice other aspects of their lives in order to take care of family, in a perfect dramaturgy of idealized perfect motherhood. In contrast Victoria Camps (2001: 12-13) points out that: “Public as private life need counter-values which stop the absolute presence of economic and consuming values. The maintenance of providing-State depends upon the help that until now women have reassured in their homes taking care of children, elderly and sick people. But women can no longer be exclusively responsible for this service. State can’t also renounce to values that women developed and freely assured taking care of family, children and elderly. Everything needs to be reorganized and distributed, without throwing away forms of life and habits which deserve to be kept”

The multiform and morally ambivalent character of this category makes it suitable for a typology, proposed here, which systematizes positive and negative references to “mother” in the popular press. Four types of mothers can be identified. First of all, the courageous mother is strongly determined to defend her children; this protective biological


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impulse can drive her to the edge of rules, authorities and personal security, as in the following example of the mother of a child allegedly cured through the intervention of Sister Lúcia, one of Fatima’s visionaries: “A magical moment–it was then, on June 13, that Alexandra Maria knelt down before her little daughter’s bed, took to her chest the book ‘Memories of Sister Lúcia’ and asked the visionary to cure her little girl. A few days later, the child recovered” (Correio da Manhã, 3 February 2006)

A second type is the proud mother, articulated through manifestations of her delight in the accomplishments and public recognition of her child: e.g. “José Mourinho’s mother is very pleased to know that her son was considered the world’s sixth sexiest man by the readers of a women magazine” (Correio da Manhã, 3 February 2006). The remaining types refer to murderous or careless mothers, who break with the “perfect motherhood” paradigm and are portrayed as “total deviants”. Homicidal mothers can be considered in the third type. These mothers are subject to a double condemnation: to the criminal or violent act in itself, to which the failure to meet the expectations of the normative ideal of motherhood is added. The dichotomy between the “good” and the “bad” mother, also tends to be interrelated with social status, as “bad” mothers tend to be associated with backgrounds of poverty and social disadvantage. In the case of a Brazilian mother who threw her two month old daughter into a lake, the mother is constructed through several negative traits: the identity of the father is unknown; she is accused of promiscuity and described as a “violent woman”, and speculation that the baby was a victim of “witchcraft rituals” (Correio da Manhã, 2 February 2006). Finally, the careless mother identifies the flaws in the maternal duties of surveillance, caring and behaviour, as in the following example. In a small town, a couple loses custody of their daughter due to neglect. The newspaper reports that the woman, who is described as a “good mother”, “has other daughter from a previous relationship who lives with their father” (Correio da Manhã, 4 February 2006). Women are not only biologically determined to become mothers: they are also better prepared to deal with children, as they are perfect educators: on 17 April 2006, when a young, popular actor died, 24Horas interviewed four celebrity women about how they would explain this death to their children, while no men were interviewed. In spite of the general celebratory tone of motherhood portrayed by the papers, suggesting that it constitutes the quintessential element of female realization, this positive attitude changes when motherhood is experienced

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outside marriage, a portrayal that perpetuates a traditional model of (heterosexual) family: “Their relationship is going really well and they already have plans for the future, although a bit surprising: “We are thinking about getting married, but we will first have a baby” (24Horas, 16 April 2006)”

Such a traditional conception of the family–and of the role of women in it–implicitly assumes that women take care of the children when the family unit changes because the parents decide to split up.

Family and sexualities Therefore, the representation of the woman-mother can be associated with preconceived notions of normality/deviance. Correio da Manhã is attentive to family dysfunctionality. Journalistic discourse often justifies children’s and teenagers’ deviant deeds and behaviour on the grounds of such dysfunctionality. Correio da Manhã is sensitive to “complex family contexts”, exploring narratives of young people who live in unfavourable social conditions and base their behaviour on destabilized family patterns. The attack on a teacher by a “violent” 12-year-old boy constitutes one such example: “Marco doesn’t have a mother. He has been abused by his father and lives with an aunt”; “This could be just another story of a kid without a family” (Correio da Manhã, 3 February 2006).

The newspaper defends the family as an important social institution. “Normal” family is associated with happiness. However, when the Correio da Manhã takes this stance regarding family values, it is in the context of the traditional one, as shown in the informative coverage of a lesbian marriage. Two women, separated and with children, fight for the legal recognition of this right. Behind an apparent neutral tone, the coverage of this story reveals strong opposition to the legitimation of gay marriage. We can find this opposition in executive editorial opinion columns, in the quotes from personalities asked to comment and in published excerpts from readers’ letters. Correio da Manhã reproduces a selection of comments on gay marriage published in its online forum. Luís Matoso is outraged with “this absurd arrangement that promotes a lawyer and two women” (Correio da Manhã, 3 February 2006). Paulo Pereira writes: “they are ostensibly acting against the law. Do they know that marriage exists only for a couple to raise a family, i.e. to conceive children?”


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(Correio da Manhã, 3 February 2006). Correio da Manhã rests upon an ideological conservative matrix, which corresponds to its editorial identity: the newspaper firmly supports “the Family, the right for life” and is “sympathetic towards Christian roots of Portuguese society”. Within this frame, Correio da Manhã publishes stories relating the activities of celebrities and homosexuals, but their journalistic coverage reveals some patterns. First, the news report does not generally confirm homosexual orientation as a stable identity factor but more often as an eccentric manifestation. And secondly, homosexuality tends to be associated with sexual aspects and deviant acts, such as drug consumption. Sexuality, reproduction and body/mind, as themes of radical feminism, are significantly discrete. 24Horas has a predominant heterosexual frame, and references to homosexuality are inflated by the attempt in February 2006 of two gay women to marry–this case was framed within the context of masculine decision and opinion (lawyer, registrar, politician) that ultimately reiterated the value of heterosexual marriage. The few other references to feminine homosexuality seem to be eccentricities of the celebrity world. However, we did not find the focus on sex that we would expect from a popular newspaper. Sex initiation is pictured as synonym for contraception inexperience (a celebrity actress and model confesses that she got pregnant at age 17 due to “lack of precautions” (24Horas, 15 April 2006), or as a “loss of innocence” and liberation of repressions. It is interesting, though, that the interpretation of sexual initiation can be transported to very different spheres: e.g. politics, where Michelle Bachelet’s first speech as head of State was headlined “Bachelet’s first time” (24Horas, 13 March 2006). Abortion, which was not legal in Portugal at the time of our analysis, is omitted as a voluntary interruption of pregnancy, is not socially or politically examined, and is treated with great discretion. Even the 17 year old model confessed that she “never contemplated not going through with the pregnancy” (Correio da Manhã, 15 April 2006), because her mother had supported her.

Celebrities Celebrities constitute another important symbolic representation of women in the newspapers, as stories involving celebrities fit perfectly into the editorial patterns of a popular paper. Celebrities are singular personalities, mainly emerging from the culture and entertainment industries, whose success, originality and beauty fascinate audiences. News selections give more prominence to female than to male celebrities; female celebrities are connected first with maternity (pregnancy and maternal attributes) and,

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only secondarily, with employment, conjugal and non-conjugal relationships, corporal attributes and care, judicial power, promotion of causes and homosexuality. There are significant differences in the portrayal of celebrities’ and other women’s motherhood. While the experience of anonymous mothers is constructed as a bittersweet mix of suffering and happiness, celebrities show only happiness when portrayed as mothers, and are presented as maintaining their beauty and perfection throughout the experience of motherhood. The myths surrounding so-called “maternal instinct” and the “biological clock” are also used in the portrayal of celebrity mothers, reinforcing the idea of motherhood as a profoundly biological and inescapable experience: “The actress’ [Charlize Theron’s] maternal instinct, who recently turned 30, awoke after she made a casting with children, that filled her with presents and seemed to love her” (24Horas, 6 February 2006)

The journalistic discourse on the reconciliation of motherhood with work is quite different when celebrity women are involved: “Starting next month, Raquel Cruz will have to divide her time between the family and the Black and Silver Saloon ..., which means that, for the first time, she will be apart from little Mariana” (Correio da Manhã, 6 February 2006). Extravagant “consumerism” also distinguishes the representations of celebrity mothers from ordinary women, when saying the singer Gwen Stefani, pregnant with her first child, “doesn’t spare on the baby layette. Gwen Stefani spends a fortune on baby clothes” (Correio da Manhã, 1 February 2006). Confirmation of pregnancy generates great curiosity and speculation. The narrative style of such news reporting in celebrity columns is compulsive, revealing a demiurgic desire for truth behind the rumour. Gossip and confidences shared by non-identified sources, and speculation about corporal changes are often enough to justify discursive assertiveness. The following quote illustrates this: “Britney Spears. The Sun mentions again the singer’s second pregnancy. ‘She is keeping everything under wraps but she feels happy with the news’, confided a source to the English newspaper” (Correio da Manhã, 13 March 2006). Celebrities themselves present not having children or a family as an obstacle to achieve a complete life. This can be seen in the report that the actress Jennifer Aniston “is desperate to have a baby within the next year. Jennifer Aniston, 37, said that she always wanted to have a family” (Correio da Manhã, 4 February 2006). The absence of reproduction is sometimes replaced by adoption of children from developing countries


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among show business personalities, e.g. Angelina Jolie and Ewan McGregor. Celebrities’ pregnancies and maternity are compared to “states of grace” or “of happiness”. Happiness associated with pregnancy and maternity keeps away critical questionings about the origins of the conception. In a news report about Angela Bassett, she is presented as a “mother of twins”, which means “double happiness”. Then the reader acknowledges that “the babies were ‘ordered’ from a surrogate mother” (Correio da Manhã, 1 February 2006). The relationships of celebrities are a central theme in feminine representations based on the importance ascribed to the private lives of celebrities and people in the public eye, quite often through rumours. Break ups, new relationships and divorces are frequently discussed. Celebrities’ marriages appear to be blissfully happy, supported by ample finance and conspicuous consumption, providing an ideal for lower class readers to identify with: e.g. David Beckham’s fabulous gifts to his wife, Victoria. Although 24Horas privileges scandal, references to divorce and extraconjugal relationships are mainly about international celebrities, to the point that it seems as though the newspaper looks on national celebrities as its most precious news. Relationships portrayed in the newspaper mainly involve single, famous and heterosexual people (although there were the exceptional cases of the two lesbian women who wanted to marry, and a woman model who claimed to have had a relationship with Angelina Jolie and a porn actress). Separations and new relationships are frequent in this model as shown by the following example: “Leonardo DiCaprio already has a new girlfriend. Online edition of ‘US Weekly’ magazine says Israeli model Bar Rafaeli is the new love of the actor. International press comments that DiCaprio’s new girlfriend looks very much like his ex, Brazilian Gisele Bündchen. DiCaprio and Gisele ended their five-year relationship at the end of 2005. Since then, the actor has been seen with other famous women, such as Lindsey Lohan, when she was already dating North-American surfer Kelly Slater” (24Horas, 21 April 2006)

Due to the prominence of celebrities in the feminine representations in 24Horas, themes related to the body are inflated, especially in terms of beauty rather than health: plastic surgery, gym, make-up, hair care, wardrobe are frequently occurring words in seven editions of 24Horas, even though they may not be part of the lives of their readers. The paper connects feminine body care to consumption and reiterates stereotypes

Representation of the “Feminine” in the Portuguese Popular Newspapers 109

about women: celebrities not only can but also need to control their bodies, as their image is their career. If we believe that discourses construct relationships and organize practices, the representation of women in 24Horas is still mainly feminine and identified with “private” matters. Female celebrities are often referred to by their first names, in an attempt to build a pseudo-intimacy between reader, newspaper and the celebrity, whereas men are mostly identified by their last names. “Camilla spends” (Camilla Parker-Bowles spending money in the hairdressers. 24Horas, 13 March 2006) is equivalent to “Naide gets bronze in Moscow” (an athlete winning a medal. 24Horas, 13 March 2006); it is only female politicians that the newspapers refer to by their last names, almost raising them to masculine spheres of power. Even when women gain visibility in the newspaper through their careers or affirmation in the social or public spheres, the private predominates in their representations. 24Horas portrays a new, more open attitude towards the feminine. Still, this representation is not an emancipatory one, as it perpetuates the identification between femininity and the private, family and love relationships.

Women politicians and female highfliers The papers associate women with their traditional realms and roles, the private sphere and maternity, but they also highlight women’s mobility in public sphere, usually in the fields of health, justice and education, where they are described as acting in “high professional positions” as psychologists, judges, athletes, artists, doctors, journalists and entertainers. Women are explicitly identified by their professions. Sometimes the newspapers highlight their “entrepreneurial character”. There are tensions and contradictions in the newspapers’ reporting, the most important of which are an ambivalence between emphasizing the traditional role of a woman in the private sphere and her professional emancipatory practices in the public system. Representations of women within the private sphere are still privileged. Notwithstanding this, liberal conceptions of feminism, grounded in the principles of Autonomy and Equality, are dominant. News reporting on women on high professional ranks (not politics) are common in the newspapers. There is a clear legitimacy and recognition given to successful and authoritative women. However, it is not clear that Correio da Manhã regards women as financially independent. In this context, profession is often not a key element but merely a contingent fact provided by the newspapers. In such cases we cannot consider professional references as “essentially” more attached to feminine than


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masculine representations. This is more related to news values and newsworthiness. This is more related to news values and newsworthiness. In fact, the coverage of some “routine events” and human interest stories (murder, dysfunctional families, and accidents) allows so-called “common citizens” to be more frequently heard as news sources (regardless of their gender). There are comparatively few references to women in “high political positions”. In such news reports women usually have a “voice”; they are represented as authoritative and credible; feminine political intervention tends to be connected with traditionally feminine areas of action or causes such as prostitution and trafficking, education, nutrition, social assistance, pregnancy, contraception and sexual education. On the other hand, female politicians are sometimes portrayed as lacking credibility: “Edite Estrela, MEP, points out the magnitude of women traffic in European Union, affecting 100 thousand women” (Correio da Manhã, 11 March 2006). In another example, the actions and interventions of the Mayor of Felgueiras, Fátima Felgueiras, was portrayed as a female politician with an eccentric personality: the mayor went on a pilgrimage to Fátima to give thanks for her re-election (Correio da Manhã, 6 February 2006; Correio da Manhã, 7 February 2006). The representations of international female politicians are slightly different, probably due to the reproduction of archetypes from the international media: “political parity” generates journalistic interest (i.e. the fact that President of Liberia is the first African head of State; and that Michelle Bachelet was elected the first President in the history of Chile. Correio da Manhã, 12 April 2006). Female politicians are often discredited in the papers. 24Horas takes a conservative position regarding parity/non parity both in the political and in the labour realms, especially in military and police areas, traditionally masculine. Women in the public sphere are mostly women in senior positions, mainly in politics, who are influential. However, they are rarely pictured in connection with promoting causes; when they are, they are projected by the media in “mise-en-scènes” and as though the activity had been staged to improve their image. The public participation of women seems to be split fairly evenly between voluntary and official interventions. Some women are mentioned in the media in relation to awards or other forms of recognition while for others notoriety seems to come via personal or political favours. Often, women appear in the media as the “wives of” famous men: on the day that the new Head of State was inaugurated, the papers reported on how the new and former and First Ladies were dressed. In March, 24Horas (14 March 2006) reported

Representation of the “Feminine” in the Portuguese Popular Newspapers 111

on a major financial operation with a first page saying “Bankers at war– but their wives are friends”–despite the fact that at least one of the women to which it was referring was prominent in political circles in her own right.

Social inequalities Economic autonomy, unlike financial autonomy, is a predominant topic in representations of women. Although 24Horas is aimed at the lower classes, financial hardship is not debated, and consumption constitutes the central theme, associated with several stereotypes that project an image of futile and compulsive female consumption, especially in relation to purchases of jewellery. Education is mentioned not as something that is important, but in describing the profiles of women whether famous or not. References to women are usually in connection to Women’s Day events or perhaps a visit to Portugal by the Chair of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, planned as a media event. Women are represented as “defendants” rather than “plaintiffs”–i.e. they are regarded as the perpetrators rather than the victims of crime. There is no reference to sexual harassment or discrimination at work; domestic/non-domestic violence and rape are dealt with in the crime section of the paper and in news about celebrities. Reporting of real news is short and infrequent, and rarely presented as probing items. The reporting of violence by the newspaper is predictable and contributes to the naturalization of violence against women (Cynthia Carter in Silveirinha, 2004). Although it is reported that gender discrimination in Portugal has risen by 47%, stories in 24Horas do not reflect this: there is reference to only one case of discrimination at work, one case of sexual discrimination, one case of discrimination with reference to immigration and two cases of (women fighting) discrimination based on ethnicity– Naomi Campbell and Oprah Winfrey. Only exceptionally does Correio da Manhã analyse in-depth how women’s social roles have evolved or reflect on how motherhood, marriage and career can be combined. When it does, it tends to assume that mothers will sacrifice careers to raise their children. For instance, in an article on workers in Auto-Europa, Volkswagen’s factory in Portugal, headed “Auto-Europa Children”, one journalist reports that: “Besides a house to pay, the couple has a two-year-old boy to raise, and they have been forced to adapt to new circumstances. Vanda left the shifts in the factory in order to take responsibility for the child’s education” (Correio da Manhã, 2 February 2006).


Chapter Four

Conclusions The analysis of ideological values underlying the symbolic representation of the feminine indicates that Correio da Manhã presents itself as a conservative (and catholic) newspaper, attached to traditional family values; in the traditional family and private sphere where women’s major responsibilities are to bring up the children. This conservative character extends to the level of human relationships and sexual orientation. Tensions surface in discourses related to sexuality. For instance, while on the one hand the newspaper reports on young people’s sex education and social debate over this subject, they assume that sexual relations take place only within the frame of heterosexual marriage. Subversive sexual behaviours are seen as synonymous with deviance. 24Horas and Correio da Manhã do not contribute to a system of “symbolic annihilation” of women (Tuchman, 2004), but the quality of their visibility is highly conditioned by the news values, and the selection and narrative/discursive construction of news, i.e. the identity of both dailies as popular newspapers strongly influences their constructions of female identities. Such symbolic representation of women that uses stereotypes and popular conceptions (Macdonald, 1995) cannot account for gender equality. Public and private matters tend to be dealt with in relation to celebrities (more in 24Horas than in Correio da Manhã). As female celebrities gain notoriety for their autonomous actions in the public sphere, the newspapers continue to explore their private lives, and women are described in terms of being (Macdonald, 1995: 31) mothers or future mothers, and only exceptionally for other attributes. Given the interest in “personalities” portrayed in the popular and tabloid press, common people do not deserve the same prominence as celebrities (Connell, 1992)–Correio da Manhã tends to reflect social asymmetries, giving prominence to celebrities but also as in 24 Horas, to dysfunctional families associated with backgrounds of poverty and social disadvantage. The Habermasian division between “masculine logic” and “feminine emotion” tends to underestimate popular press, as it is placed on the more affective public sphere. However, the popular press can present a “political, public and personal” debate which also includes (McGuigan, 2005: 435) feminine and private matters that then achieve public and political dimensions. Once freed from “its obsession with the public, the institutional and the masculine” (Lumby in Turner 2006: 487), mass media–and particularly popular media–could contribute to widening the range of topics that enter the public agenda. However, the popular press

Representation of the “Feminine” in the Portuguese Popular Newspapers 113

can also act as a smoke screen, diverting citizens’ attention from public life’s central issues (regardless of their gender) (Grisprud, 1992). Correio da Manhã and 24Horas hold predominantly liberal conceptions of feminism, highlighting autonomy, but in very tense and contradictory ways, as they continue to associate women with traditional societal roles. The emotional, episodic, personalized register of these newspapers gives the “feminine” a space within the public sphere, but still frames it as popular, rather than a progressive, conception of the feminine.

References Álvares, C. (2005) “Feminism and the Discursive Representation of Difference: The Presence of Alterity in Theory and Practice”, paper presented at Language, Communication, Culture Conference, Évora University. Barnett, B. (2006) “Medea in the media. Narrative and myth in newspaper coverage of women who kill their children”, Journalism, 7(4): 411432. Bourdieu, P. (1999) On Television. New York: The New Press. Bird, E. and R.W. Dardenne (1988) “Myth, chronicle, and story: Exploring the narrative quality of the news” pp. 64-78 in J.W. Carey (ed.) Media, myths, and narratives: Television and the press. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Camps, V. (2001 [1999]) O Século das Mulheres. Lisboa: Editorial Presença. Connell, I. (1992) “Personalities in the Popular Media” pp. 64-83 in P. Dahlgren and C. Sparks (eds) Journalism as Popular Culture. London: Sage. Day, E. (2004) “Why women love journalism”, British Journalism Review, 15(2): 21-25. Fairclough, N. (1991) Language and Power. London; New York: Longman. Grisprud, J. (1992) “The Aesthetics and Politics of Melodrama” pp. 84-95 in P. Dahlgren and C. Sparks (eds) Journalism and Popular Culture. London: Sage. Holland, P. (1998) “The politics of the smile–‘Soft news’ and the sexualisation of the popular press” pp. 17-32 in C. Carter, G. Branston and S. Allan (eds) News, Gender and Power. London: Routledge. Macdonald, M. (1995) Representing Women Myths of Femininity in the Popular Media. London: Arnold.


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McGuigan, J. (2005) “The cultural public sphere”, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 8(4): 427-443. Silveirinha, M. J. (ed.) (2004) As Mulheres e os Media. Lisbon: Livros Horizonte. Sparks, C. and J. Tulloch (eds) (2000) Tabloid Tales–Global debates over media standards. New York: Rowman & Littlefield. Steeves, H. L. (1995 [1987]) “Feminist theories and Media Studies” pp. 392-400 in O. Boyd-Barrett et al. (eds) Approaches to Media. London: Arnold. Tuchman, G. (2004 [1978]) “O aniquilamento simbólico das mulheres pelos meios de comunicação de massas” pp. 139-153 in M. J. Silveirinha (dir.) As mulheres e os Media. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte. Turner, G. (2006) “Celebrity, the tabloid and the democratic public sphere” pp. 487-500 in P. David Marshall (ed.) The Celebrity Culture Reader. New York: Routledge. van Zoonen, L. (1998) “One of the Girls?–The changing gender of journalism” pp. 33-46 in C. Carter, G. Branston and S. Allan (eds) News, Gender and Power. London: Routledge. Winston, B. (2002) “Towards tabloidization? Glasgow revisited, 19752001”, Journalism Studies, III(1): 1-20.


Introduction Among the most strident calls from contemporary political parties in the Netherlands over the last few years have been their appeals to morality. This so-called “norms and values” discussion was primarily promoted by the current Prime Minister J.P. Balkenende, whose inspiration is the work of the American sociologist Amitai Etzioni. Etzioni’s conceptions of socioeconomics and communitarianism1 resound in Balkenende arguments, in which an important strand focuses on the media in general and on television’s influence on society’s morals more particularly. In his book Aan de Kiezer (To the Voter), for example, Balkenende addresses the example of a Dutch quiz show host in terms of “pulp on television” and its (negative) effects on the moral fibre of Dutch society (Redactie Politiek, 2006). Obviously, the association between television and morality is not new. In public debate, television, as a popular medium, is often held responsible for society’s moral decay. Adornoesque arguments resound, such as the suggestion that watching television will numb the mind, or teach bad morals. Lynn Spigel and Michael Curtin (1997) even speak of the naturalization of the notion of television as a social pathology. These 1 Adherents to communitarianism argue that we have lost the assumption of the true value of community life, since we understand our relations to one another as primarily instrumental (Tiles, 2000). When priority of the individual or the community is being questioned, it is the latter this is often deemed to have the largest impact in the most pressing ethical discussions.


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arguments originate in the way the medium is positioned within the aesthetic debate in which mass culture is opposed to high culture. As Lynne Joyrich (1996: 22) states: “Historically, mass culture has often been figured as feminine and denigrated for its supposed threat to the stability of the masculine dominant order of high art”. The assumption of the feminine nature of television seems a pivotal feature in the evaluation of its assumed impact on society. Since the relation between television and morality is usually judged negatively, discussion does not revolve around the question of whether or not television has an impact on society’s morality, but rather on the assumed negative nature of this impact. As Tavener (2000) shows, this discussion should be considered a moral panic. The debate over television and moral panic has two strands: on the one hand there are the accusations that television contributes to the construction of moral panic,2 on the other hand there is the view that television is the subject of moral panic. This study deals with the latter view–the content of television is often the central issue in debates that revolve around television. Within these debates, television is frequently seen as being responsible for the degradation of family values, civil conduct, and democratic values (Tavener, 2000). To this list of public issues as topics of special concern in relation to the impact of television, we can add “violence”. As Williams (2003 [1974]) argued as far back as 1974, most debates on the effects of television concentrate on controversial content such as violence. Vasterman (2001) argues that the societal turmoil around so-called “meaningless violence” is media hype as there is a discrepancy between threat and reaction, i.e. the number of cases of meaningless violence occurring in society and perceptions of their numbers. Assumptions have also been made about increased violent or aggressive behaviour induced by watching television or playing computer games. Though a clear and direct relationship between violent behaviour and watching television has never been proven and research results are contradictory (Giles, 2003), arguments that television and video games cause antisocial and aggressive behaviour and should therefore be forbidden, restricted or otherwise be secure from general access by society are popular. Again, the perceived threat exceeds the reality. Television content with regard to violence can thus be considered a moral panic and should be added to the list of issues 2

I follow Hall et al.’s (1978) conception of moral panic which stresses that: “When such discrepancies appear between threat and reaction, between what is perceived and what that is a perception of, we have good evidence to suggest we are in the presence of an ideological displacement. We call this displacement a moral panic.” (Hall et al., 1978: 29).

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around which debates over television revolve. The core question addressed in this chapter is: What discourses on civil conduct, democratic values, violence and family are imagined by prime-time television narratives in the Netherlands? The urgency of the “norms and values” debate is embedded in a conception of “good citizenship”. The four issues at the heart of this debate (i.e. civil conduct, democratic values, family and violence) are closely connected to diverse conceptions of citizenship. Traditionally, three forms of citizenship (civil, social and political) are distinguished (Marshall, 1950), to which we would add cultural citizenship (van Zoonen, 2004), which emphasizes sense of belonging to a community, not so much the nation state. This sense of belonging is somewhat symbolically induced, which makes media an important discursive arena in which (cultural) citizenship is formulated and constructed (Hermes, 1998; van Zoonen, 2004). In this study we focus on the moral axis of cultural citizenship. A paradoxical deadlock seems to be evoked by the use of two different conceptions of citizenship in the “media-morality” debate. Politicians’ appeals to reinstate “norms and values” call for a traditional conception of citizenship that relates to ideas of Enlightenment. Thus, the morality underlying this kind of citizenship is based on rational arguments, rules and obligations (Poole, 1991). The media are rejected and held responsible for undermining important norms and values constructing this kind of citizenship (e.g. patriotism, respecting legitimate authority, understanding rights and obligations (Selnow, 1990)). At the same time, this call for traditional citizenship values is accompanied by central arguments in the norms and values debate calling for a sense of belonging to a community, and hence cultural citizenship–in which, as already explained, the media are particularly important. Because of the confusion over conceptions of citizenship, a sense of belonging is emphasized within this debate, while television–an excellent storyteller and therefore arena for discussion of this sense of belonging–is rejected. Arguments in the debate on citizenship focus on the assumed negative role of the media, and obscure the relationship between norms and moral values, and the media. Adding to the complexity of the debate is the fact that the relationship between television and morality is under-researched. In this chapter, the moral discourses on civil conduct, democratic values, violence and families as portrayed on prime-time television in the Netherlands, are analysed and related to conceptions of citizenship.


Chapter Five

Television’s imaginings of the moral discourses on civil conduct, democratic values, violence and family are researched within a framework derived from what Richard Rorty (2000) calls “the literary culture”. Authors in the literary culture investigate the relation between cultural forms and their relation with morality. Within this tradition narratives are considered an important resource for reflections on everyday moral issues. The emphasis is on gaining insights into the “other”, with the primary aim of learning to use terminology such as us rather than them (Rorty, 1989; Nussbaum, 2001). Additionally, literary culture argues for the acknowledgement of an affective, emotional dimension in a traditionally rational conception of morality. In what follows, we try to answer the central research question on the kind of televisual discourses on civil conduct, democratic values, violence and family which are imagined by prime-time television narratives in the Netherlands.

Television and morality: a gendered dispute Television’s position as low culture product that is opposed to high culture, is due to the (high) Culture-(low) culture dichotomy. Among other foci of attention, the Culture versus culture debate has been concerned with mass media since their early existence. Looking at this particular facet of the debate, we find that the assumption on which it is founded– that high culture would make us morally better people, and low culture would not–is often obscured. High culture could supposedly inoculate against the so-called bad effects of low culture (Jensen, 2002; Joyrich, 1996). High culture forms, such as literature, are often regarded as belonging primarily to the masculine domain and are mostly thought of as having the opposite “effect” to their feminine low culture counterparts. High culture supposedly inoculates us against the hazardous and unhealthy effects of low culture. Exposure to high culture evokes critical reflection while low culture renders its audience childlike and feminine (i.e. evoking emotional not rational reflection) (see Jensen, 2002; Joyrich, 1996; Spigel and Curtin, 1997; Cohen, 1999). The Culture versus culture dichotomy arose in the early Romantic period (Boenink, 1997; Jenkins et al., 2002). The individual was rediscovered and needed to break free from the masses, which could be achieved through a certain “shock-experience”–an experience that could be evoked by the arts and would make one reflect on morality and rediscover the self. The arts, it was believed, could teach us more than the,

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until then, celebrated rationality; the arts added the emotional dimension to rationality (Benjamin, 1939; Rosenblatt, 1938). According to Martha Nussbaum (2001: 433), artistic quality holds this potential: “for I believe that there is a prima facie and general correlation between artistic merit and the ability to engage the personality at a deep level”. Nussbaum further argues against an elitist view of the arts and that television, among other mass media, is a “potent educator of citizens”. Nevertheless, the arts are still generally conceived of within a traditional masculine order of high culture (Joyrich, 1996). The Romantic period delivered the relatively untraditional conception of morality that is adopted here. It was in this period that arguments emerged that added an affective dimension to morality. During the Enlightenment, morality became embedded in rationality and the public sphere (Poole, 1991) and thus was confined to the masculine sphere. In trying to break free from this rational straitjacket, the Romantic period questioned the rational basis of morality. As John Dewey (1891: 100) argued: “Some…entertain the idea that a moral law is a command: that it actually tells us what we should or should not do! The Golden Rule gives me absolutely no knowledge, of itself, of what I should do”. Dewey argues that rational rules and principles are not sufficient to guide us in our moral decisions and suggests that imagination bridges the gap between moral principles and moral action. According to Dewey (1891), moral decisions and actions are situated. We assess each moral situation according to theoretical notions (and these might be a stock of moral principles, rules or conventions), while simultaneously taking into consideration all relationships between the people involved (thus forcing the individual to re-interpret existing theoretical notions according to the situation). In this perspective an emotional, and thus “feminine”, dimension enters moral reflection. It is this wider, less gendered, or perhaps more accurate and more balanced, conception of morality–combining rationality and emotion–that we embrace. The relation between narratives and the moral imagination was explored for the first time from these viewpoints, the imagination, seen as required to bridge the gap between moral principles and moral action, and taking account of the necessity of the shock experience. According to John Dewey (1894) and Louise Rosenblatt (1938) narratives inform us about the context of moral issues and the involvement and feelings of ourselves and the “other” in moral situations. These insights into the relationship between narratives and moral imagination are further reflected upon by the literary culture (see Nussbaum 1995, 1997, 2001; Rorty 1989). Authors from this tradition argue that narratives function as a moral laboratory, as


Chapter Five

they offer the opportunity to explore and reflect upon moral issues, and to deliberate without enduring the consequences of everyday moral decisions (see Hakemulder, 1998; Widdershoven, 1993). It should be noted that this framework explains only how narratives can evoke reflection on moral insights; the content of these insights is not known and surely cannot always be evaluated as positive (see Bogdan 1992; Nussbaum 2001). It is also important to realize that the content of the narrative is quintessential in terms of what the reader can reflect upon: what is not offered by the narrative might not be reflected upon at all (Nussbaum, 1997; Schudson, 1989). This increases the need for an exploration of what narratives imagine on a moral level. According to Mark Johnson (1993) narratives offer three kinds of insights which together construct the moral imagination of a narrative. These three insights more or less transgress the classic binary ratio versus emotion, i.e. moral versus a-moral dimensions. Firstly, moral imagination takes into account the ability to recognize an issue as morally relevant–in order to ponder upon a moral issue, it needs to be recognized as such. There is a certain importance or interest in the situation that is in need of recognition (see Nussbaum 2001). Also, we should note, in our wider conception of morality, moral issues occur in both the public and the private sphere. For example, family issues might have the same moral quality as public issues such as abortion or euthanasia–although one could argue that these are also private issues. Morality in this conception revolves also around everyday life issues as well as public dilemmas. Secondly, the various ways of deliberating a moral issue are relevant. There is always more than one perspective or position that can be adopted in the evaluation of a moral issue. Gilligan and Attanucci (1988) argue for two moral orientations or perspectives to deliberate a moral issue: ethics of care and ethics of justice. The ethics of justice perspective can be understood as a style of deliberation in which the individuals involved are presented as independent of each other but as having a sense of duty and obligation towards each other. They rely on the application of rules and principles to realize their goals. This style of moral deliberation is closely connected to the traditional, and therefore masculine, conception of morality (Gilligan and Attanucci, 1988; Poole, 1991). The ethics of care perspective can be understood as a style of deliberation that presents the individuals as interdependent, and focuses on their mutual relationships. The important question is how to act responsively in a particular situation, and protect vulnerability (Gilligan and Attanucci, 1988). This style of moral deliberation is seen as more feminine. Research shows that men are oriented more towards an ethics of justice style of reasoning, while women

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tend towards an ethics of care style of reasoning (Gilligan and Attanucci, 1988). Thirdly, the ability to take into account the various consequences for the people involved is important. Insight into the motivations, feelings and character of other people is pivotal (Rorty 1989; Johnson 1993). Insight into human character concerns not only the “other”, but also the “self”. In order to envisage the potential help or harm likely to result from our actions, we need to develop the sensitivity to recognize other human beings as fellow sufferers: to think not of “them”, but as “one of us”. This can only be achieved through detailed descriptions of what unfamiliar people are like, and of redescription of what we ourselves are like (Rorty 1989). Having regard for the Other and the Self might be described as one of the manifest feminine dimensions of moral imagination. In Seyla Benhabib’s (1986) wording, we are dealing here with a concrete other. Dealing with a concrete (rather than a generalized) other means that we view every individual as a unique person with her or his own unique thoughts, history and emotional constitution. Though authors from the literary tradition explicitly state that literature is not the only narrative resource for the development of moral imagination, popular culture is habitually left aside. The reason for this exclusion is not, as noted above, because television is automatically considered inferior, but as Nussbaum (2001) clarifies because the media are relatively vulnerable to market pressures and therefore might lack the artistic quality that is essential to evoke reflection. While the framework derived from the literary tradition is useful, it is important to move beyond the assumed contradiction between market and culture, between money and morality, and to try to delve into the intricate ways in which television narratives imagine morality.

Employing the literary framework Two weeks of Dutch prime-time television were analysed3 to enable an exploration of the moral insights in television narratives. Three public channels Nederland 1, Nederland 2, and Nederland 3, and the four commercial channels RTL 4, Yorin, SBS 6 and Net 5 were involved. Since in the Netherlands television attracts the largest number of viewers 3 The first week was 5-11 May 2003, the second from 6-12 September 2004. The selection of the 7 channels analysed was based on their relatively large market share of least 5% each in May 2003 (SKO, 2003). Channels such as RTL 5, V8, MTV, TMF and National Geographic were excluded because they had a market share of less than 5%.


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between 8pm and 10pm, we recorded programmes in this time slot.4 We analysed a total of 161.6 hours of television programmes in relation to the moral insights they offered.5 In the conception of cultural citizenship adopted in this chapter, the media generally are of symbolic importance, meaning that not only are news and current affairs programmes deemed relevant, but also the more “entertaining genres” such as soap opera, drama, comedy (see Hermes, 1998; van Zoonen, 2004). Thus, no genres were excluded from our analysis. However, we should draw attention to a gendered conception of television genres. The more entertaining genres are traditionally conceived off as “feminine”, while news and current affairs programmes are conceived of as “masculine” (Gledhill, 1997). This gendering of an already gendered medium is shown to be relevant. Concentrating on the four issues, or rather themes, of civil conduct, democratic values, family and violence, we conducted a discourse analysis inspired by Michel Foucault’s (1970) work on the strategies operating to maintain the status quo. According to Foucault (1970), there are internal and external procedures to control and delimit the discourses that tell us what is normal and what is not, what is true and what is not, who is to be taken seriously and who is not. In order to reconstruct the discourses on civil conduct, democratic values, violence and the family as imagined by television, we asked three questions within each theme. First: What is recognized and acknowledged as civil conduct, democratic value, family, or violence? The answer to this question reveals the more manifest content of a discourse. Second: What strategies are employed to maintain the status quo on that particular topic? The answer to this question reveals the more latent content of a discourse. Special attention is paid to the disjuncture between discourse and practice, in order to investigate the stability of a discourse. The assumption being that the greater the disjuncture, the less stable the discourse. And third: Which moral subject positions are created and constructed within the discourse? The answers to this question reveal the excluding and including power of the discourse. With the help of these three questions, we investigate the four important 4

All programmes that for the greater part fell within the prime-time slot were included. Programmes that started before 7.30pm or ended later than 10.30pm were excluded from the analysis. This meant that most soccer games and movies were excluded, which is a serious limitation to this study since it means that two genres are generally absent. Furthermore, the prime-time slot constitutes another limitation: it excludes children's programming. 5 For the week of May 2003 80.3 hours in total of prime-time television were included in the analysis; in September 2004 81.3 hours were included.

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issues surrounding the debate on norms and values, in order to enlighten the relationship between the moral imagination of television and cultural citizenship.

Discourses on citizenship Civil conduct Civil conduct as a moral issue is widely discussed on prime-time television, and encompasses a welter of topics ranging from lying or keeping one’s promises, to employers stealing money from their employees. These topics were most of the time reasoned about in an ethics of justice style and, thus, frequently formulated as moral rules (e.g. you should not lie, steal, break promises, etc.). White, middleclass men assume most of the moral subject positions within this discourse. Civil conduct is also imagined in all genres, ranging from the evening news to soap operas, though in dissimilar ways. The discourse on civil conduct operates on three levels: the individual, the social and the societal. At the individual level, we find several regulatory behavioural rules on civil conduct aimed at “decent behaviour” on the part of the individual. For example, in The Addams Family a Dutch docu-soap about Adam Curry and Patricia Paay, Adam Curry attends the memorial service for Pim Fortuyn (a Dutch politician who was murdered). He explains that during the service he was offended by the behaviour of several people. Firstly, by three women, who claimed to be second cousins to his wife Patricia, and who insisted on talking about it. Secondly, by a woman who wanted her picture taken with him, behaviour judged by Adam as “just not done” on such an occasion. These messages are aimed at the individual; they are guides as to what “you” should do. Though these moral rules are explicitly formulated within prime-time television, it is unclear what strategies are employed to maintain the status quo. In other words, the consequences of not abiding by these rules are not spelt out. And from this perspective, the excluding power of discourse would seem not to be large. The second way that the discourse on civil conduct operates is on a social level. On this level the discourse informs about how one is supposed to deal with others in the same society. In other words, it provides information about what is decent behaviour in direct relations with other people? Of course, “not lying” also involves other people, but the formulation here is directed towards the individual and individual behaviour, while messages on the social level focus on interaction. The


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discourse explicitly indicates the second party for whom the individual’s behaviour will have consequences. An example of this formulation of civil conduct on the social level is found in People from the Zoo (Mensen van de Dierentuin), a Dutch documentary on employees at a zoo. One of them, André, has prolonged his stay in Korea (saving a seal) without permission, which has required his colleagues working some overtime. In the particular episode analysed, we are shown the confrontation between the manager, Tine, and André. Tine presents André with the consequences of his action, stating that: “Within a team you have a responsibility for others”, and that “Those others should not fall victim to your actions”. Again, strategies to enforce this social civil conduct are unclear and the consequences for not following the rules can only be guessed at. The third level at which civil conduct operates is the societal level, which includes moral rules for (governmental) institutions. Discussion of civil conduct at this level is enlightening about how such institutions should behave. Topics range from forensic research establishments to health care organizations, but are all formulated in terms of what is “the decent thing to do” and therefore fall within civil conduct. A good example of how civil conduct is imagined at the societal level occurs in Network (Netwerk), a current affairs programme broadcast on weekday nights, following the evening news. The episode in question features a discussion on forensic research. Central to the discussion is the idea of transcending privacy through DNA samples. It is clear that a DNA sample provides more information about a person than is needed for research in a criminal case, e.g. whether the person is genetically prone to contracting a disease such as cancer. Throughout the discussion, the moral debate revolves around the question of what would be the most decent way to deal with this privacy issue. It is here that strategies to maintain the status quo become more visible. The consequences of not following the rules, though implicit in the programme, could be harsh. For example, if problems between ethnic groups in society are not resolved, a society cannot function and, as suggested in one of the Network programmes, could be involve accusations of racism. The arguments are similar in the context of health care: if health care is not good, people may die. The discourse on civil conduct operating on an individual level is mostly constructed in fictional programmes (soaps and dramas) and infotainment/entertainment programmes (reality television, games shows, talk shows), while on a societal level it is mostly constructed in nonfictional programmes (current affairs, news). Civil conduct is formulated in terms of behavioural rules and decent manners for individuals as well as for governmental institutions. However, breaking these rules, for the most

Imagining Moral Citizenship


part, is not shown to have consequences. This lack of consequences for not keeping the rules on civil conduct contrasts starkly with the way that the discourse on democratic values is constructed.

Democratic values The discourse on democratic values in Dutch prime-time television is formulated around the question: “What is a good way to govern a country?”6 The answer is indicative that anything that resembles the Western democratic model of government is good. All the topics constructing this discourse were formulated in an ethics of justice style of reasoning. The discourse on democratic values was constructed through a large number of rules about what constitutes a well-governed society, which presents us with a very clear picture of the Western idea of democracy. Prime-time television narratives formulate democratic values, such as “In a well-governed society freedom is valued the highest” (NOS Journaal; news), “Fidel Castro’s regime is wrong since it is repressive” (Netwerk; current affairs), “A good government is not corrupt” (NOS Journaal; news), and “In a well-governed society people live peacefully together” (Netwerk; current affairs). Strategies to maintain the status quo are highly visible and sanctions for not following the rules are severe: badly-governed societies are excluded from international politics. In the two weeks of programming analysed, we found a typical example of these narratives in the evening news (NOS Journaal). One of the messages was that: “A good government should not withhold any information from its people”. The reasoning behind this discourse makes it clear that withholding information is considered corrupt and, therefore, the government and the relevant society (the news item was about Putin’s regime in Russia) are excluded as a serious partner in politics. Another example emerged in the sitcom Becker, in which the main character, Becker, is called upon to do jury services and tries to get out of it. The discussion among the different characters in the sitcom revolves around the moral question of how to be a good citizen. In this episode the juridical system of the US is criticized and ridiculed. The discourse on democratic values is primarily constructed in nonfiction genres (with the exception of the message in the sitcom Becker). The moral subject positions are dominated by white, middle class men. 6

This question, of course, relates partly to the “norms-and-values” debate provoked by the Balkenende government as discussed in the Introduction to this chapter, and in contrast to the other three discourses, concerns the government itself. Ironically, this issue is the least discussed in the “norms-and-values” debate.


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The severity of the sanctions for not following the rules as they are constructed in the discourse indicates that there is no agreement as to what is “a good way to govern a country”, i.e. there is a disjuncture between discourse and practice. Obviously, other ways of governing than the Western idea of democracy are flourishing, and dismissal of these modes is one of the discourse mechanisms used to reinforce the Western ideal of democracy.

Violence The discourse on violence seems to be rather straightforwardly imagined by prime-time narratives: violence is bad and one should never engage in it. However, on a deeper level a complicated and contradictory discourse emerges. First of all, only physical violence is presented as violence. Psychological warfare, verbal abuse, wars, sexual assault are concepts not imagined as violent behaviour in prime-time programming. A good example is that of a rape scene in the Dutch soap opera Good Times, Bad Times (Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden). Though the act of rape was deemed to have taken place and was partially visualized in one episode, it was not discussed in terms of violence and there was no judgement in terms of what actually had happened. Somewhat surprisingly, subsequent episodes suggest that the rapist was too intoxicated to be responsible for his act, and he is forgiven by the victim. So, in prime-time television violence is framed only as direct acts of physical attack, behaviour that is rigidly judged as immoral, carrying the message that good citizens do not engage in violence. Second, though violence is rejected and evaluated as immoral, primetime television provides us with ample reasons to excuse physical violence. These reasons are primarily connected to self-defence and to the vital importance of saving the world. One is allowed therefore to be physically violent if this is necessary to defend oneself. For example, on the evening news programme (NOS Journaal), a robbery at a jeweller’s is discussed. The jeweller, who shot one of the thieves in the knee, is praised heralded for defending himself in these extenuating circumstances but is harshly criticized for kicking one of the robbers who was on the ground, wounded. Thus, his act of self-defence is not described in terms of violence and rejected, although his kicking of a “defenceless” person is. Another occasion when violence is allowed is if one is trying to save the world (as Buffy does, in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Strategies to maintain status quo are complicated further by the fact that on prime-time television most of acts of violence we have discussed

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took place in the private sphere. With the exception of the example in the evening news, acts of violence that were discussed as a moral issue were imagined in drama series. Furthermore, the (moral) subject positions created by the discourse on violence are all taken by women. This might be explained by the fact that most of the narratives addressing violence as a moral theme take place in the private sphere (e.g. domestic violence, rape, robbery) or deal with acts of violence perpetrated by women. Violent acts by men are perhaps considered more common and thus less newsworthy or less interesting as a moral theme, and hence are less visible on prime-time television as a morally relevant topic than the violence of women. This does rather suggest that male violence is more “normal”, and therefore more accepted than female violence (see Foucault, 1970). However, extreme violence, such as premeditated murder, excludes the perpetrator of whatever sex from humankind.

Family The discourse on family is constructed on prime-time television with less variety in terms of its rules and regulations than the discourses on civil conduct, violence and democratic values. While these other discourses are primarily constructed by messages telling us what we should not do, the discourse on family is constructed with more positive messages (i.e. what we should do). These messages celebrate the importance of having children, of wanting to become a parent, and focusing one’s life on one’s family. They naturalize the central position of family. Furthermore, in the family discourse on Dutch prime-time television what family looks like is quite clear: if it consists of a mother, a father and children, everyone within the family feels connected and attached. These strong ties are evident even when there is no biological connection. For example, in the movie Stuart Little, a mouse is adopted as a member of the Little family and by the end of the story, he feels like “a real Little”. However, a peculiar tension emerges in the discourse on family indicating a rather major disjuncture between discourse and practice. On the one hand the discourse on family constructs the family as a natural unit, and as the cornerstone of life and society. Messages such as “Children belong with their parents” (Prem Time; current affairs), “Parents should always be available” (Birth Stories; docudrama/Kinderziekenhuis; docudrama), “Having a child is the most important thing in life” (Birth Stories; docudrama), “You should never let your family down” (Charmed; drama series/Medical Detectives; crime report/Spoorloos; docudrama/ Patty’s Posse; docudrama/Moesha; sitcom/Stuart Little; film), and “A


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good mother is omniscient” (Medical Detectives; crime report), formulate the family as a natural group with incredibly strong ties that it is impossible to live without. On the other hand, the strategies to enforce the discourse are reemphasized over and over, and sanctions for breaking the rules are surprisingly brutal: namely the loss of children, sometimes even death. Mothers who are not good mothers (or who are not omniscient) are heavily criticized. These severe sanctions suggest that the family is not such a natural unit after all, assuming that the worse the penalties, the less the “naturalizing power” of the discourse. A good example of how this discourse is constructed is found in the American crime report Medical Detectives. One of the items is about a man who murdered his wife. This man had murdered a previous wife, a fact that for a long time went undiscovered. The way that events were presented in the programme made it clear that no one could have prevented them. Nevertheless, the item was constructed around the parents, especially the murdered woman’s mother, who blamed herself for not being able to protect her daughter, stating: “I should have smelt a rat”. A similar situation occurs in an episode of CSI Miami. A young boy is thought to have been murdered, but later in the episode it appears that he committed suicide because his parents did not pay him enough attention. The episode ends with the message: “Parents should never let their children down”. What is interesting is that the children, though they are presented as what everyone desires, have no say in these situations. When children occupy a subject position, they are not really taken seriously. 7 Children can be angry, but most of the time, there are no consequences of this anger and often they are presented as young, and with still much to learn. For example, in the drama series Everwood, the young boy Ephram blames his father for being away from home too much. He is angry and feels neglected. By the end of the episode he has learned why it is that his father has to be away so often, and apologizes for his anger. His point of view, on the functioning of the father within the family is completely neglected. The majority of the discourse on family is constructed in fictional genres and in infotainment/entertainment genres. Interestingly though, most messages on family are formulated in American docudramas (such as Birth Stories) or drama series (e.g. Gilmore Girls, Charmed, Touched by an Angel). This apparent American origin of the “family discourse” raises interesting questions about cultural homogenization (of morality) that require further study. 7

Nor are children taken seriously in subject positions tied to other moral themes.

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Conclusion The four topics–civil conduct, family, democratic values, and violence– upon which the so-called “norms-and-values” debate focuses are imagined on prime-time television as more or less elaborated discourses. While the discourse on democratic values and part of the discourse on civil conduct are formulated in the more “masculine genres”, such as news and current affairs, the discourses on violence and family are primarily constructed by “feminine genres”. These results constitute an interesting puzzle. Firstly, we would argue that prime-time television cannot be rejected for undermining the norms and values important to citizenship. On the contrary, the discourses constructed on prime-time television seem rather to reinforce these values: democracy is celebrated, violence is rejected, family is constructed as the cornerstone of society, and civil conduct is emphasized on different levels. So, we would follow Tavener (2000) that arguments focusing on television as the culprit of society’s moral decay can best be viewed as moral panic. Secondly, the gendered dimensions of the television genres in which the discourses are constructed seem to matter, and complicate the call for better citizenship. For example, family is imagined as the cornerstone of society, but in a very problematic way (the consequences for not being a good parent are brutal). Also, the discourse is primarily constructed within feminine genres such as drama series and docu-dramas that are taken less serious. Also, while violence is rejected, problematic violence is constructed as direct physical attacks taking place in the private sphere, consigning violence that occurs in the public sphere (such as wars and “male” aggressive behaviour) to a moral issue. Thus, we could say that two important topics in the longing for better citizenship are imagined on prime-time television in a problematic way. The arguments that concentrate on violence in the debate are not about women and violence in the private sphere, but about violence in the public sphere, the kind of violence that is not constructed as a problem on prime-time television but is naturalized or excused. The fear in the public debate of the degradation of family values, does not revolve around wives being murdered by their husbands, but about the change in family structures, such as one-parent families, divorced parents, or sometimes homosexual parenting, and its presumed effects. The extreme disjuncture between discourse and practice might be a sign of the transition of values in Western society. As in the case of the discourse on violence, within the other discourses there are also strikingly absent topics. A few examples are the absence of rudeness in public everyday life in the discourse of civil conduct, the


Chapter Five

absence of a discussion on tolerance towards other ideals about governing countries in the discourse on democratic values, and the absence of other family constructions in the discourse on family. This chapter has focused on rather manifest moral discourses on television and has rather overlooked what is not discussed. In Fiske’s (1987) terms we could say the ex-nominated moral themes are just as important for analysis of moral citizenship as imagined by prime-time narratives. In this nomination and ex-nomination of moral topics the gender dimensions seem of explicit importance. The discourses on civil conduct and democratic values are primarily constructed in the masculine genres, while the discourses on violence and family are primarily formulated in the more feminine genres. Along the lines of Gledhill’s (1997) argument these results indicate that since masculine genres are taken more seriously, the topics discussed within the discourses on civil conduct and democratic values are also taken more seriously than the topics that revolve around violence and family. Furthermore, within the discourse on civil conduct and democratic values the subject positions created by the discourses are dominated by men. This not only means that women are ex-nominated as subjects in the discourses on civil conduct and democratic values, but also indicates that men are ex-nominated as subjects within discourses of family and violence. The values for the traditional conception of citizenship, seem to be primarily constructed by the more feminine genres and are therefore taken less seriously. This obviously does not mean that television undermines these values: television’s role in constructing citizenship might just not be very large. In conclusion, it seems clear that the media, and television specifically, could be better considered a discursive arena in which the meaning of important values is constructed than as causing society’s moral decay.

References Benhabib, S. (1986) “The Generalized and the Concrete Other: the Kohlberg-Gilligan controversy and moral theory”, Praxis International, 5(4): 402-424. Benjamin, W. (1939) “Enige motieven bij Baudelaire” (W. Notenboom, Trans.) pp. 87-110 in J. Van Heemst (ed.) Kleine filosofie van het flaneren: passages, Parijs, Baudelaire. Amsterdam: SUA. Boenink, M. (1997) “Boeken met een boodschap. Literatuur en normatieve oordeelsvorming”, Krisis. Tijdschrift voor filosofie, 68(3): 13-28.

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Bogdan, D. (1992) Re-educating the Imagination. Toward a Poetics, Politics, and Pedagogy of Literary Engagement. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers. Cohen, T. (1999) “High and Low Art, and High and Low Audiences”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 57(2): 137-143. Dewey, J. (1891) “Moral Theory and Practice” pp. 93-109 in J.A. Boydston (ed.) The Early Works, 1882-1898. Part III: 1889-1892. Early Essays and Outlines of a Critical Theory of Ethics. Carbondale/Edwardsville/London/Amsterdam: Southern Illinois University Press/Feffer & Simons, Inc. Dewey, J. (1894) “Moral Philosophy” pp. 132-151 in J.A. Boydston (ed.) The Early Works. Part IV: 1893-1894. Early Essays and The Study of Ethics. A Syllabus. Carbondale/Edwardsville/London/Amsterdam: Southern Illinois University Press/Feffer & Simons, Inc. Fiske, J. (1987) Television Culture. London/New York: Routledge. Foucault, M. (1970) “The Order of Discourse. Inaugural Lecture at the Collège de France” pp. 48-78 in R. Young (ed.) Untying the Text. A Post-Structural Reader. Boston/London/Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Giles, D. (2003) Media Psychology. Mahwah/London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Gilligan, C., and Attanucci, J. (1988) “Two Moral Orientations” pp. 73-86 in C. Gilligan, J.V. Ward and J. McLean Taylor (eds) Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gledhill, C. (1997) “Genre and Gender: the case of soap opera” pp. 291336 in S. Hall (ed.) Representation: cultural representations and signifying practices. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: Sage Publications Ltd. Hakemulder, J. (1998) The Moral Laboratory. Literature and Ethical Awareness. Utrecht: Dissertation Utrecht University. Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J. and Roberts, B. (1978) Policing the Crisis. Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London/Basinstoke: The MacMillan Press Ltd. Hermes, J. (1998) “Cultural Citizenship and Popular Fiction” pp. 157-168 in K. Brants, J. Hermes and L. van Zoonen (eds) The Media in Question: Popular Cultures and Public Interests. London/Thousand Oaks/New Dehli: Sage. Jenkins, H., McPherson, T. and Shattuc, J. (2002) “Defining Popular Culture” pp. 26-42 in H. Jenkins, T. McPherson and J. Shattuc (eds)


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Hop on Pop. The politics and pleasures of popular culture. Durham & London: Duke University Press. Jensen, J. (2002) Is Art Good for Us? Beliefs about high culture in American life. Lanham/Boulder/New York/Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc. Johnson, M. (1993) Moral imagination. Implications of cognitive science for ethics. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press. Joyrich, L. (1996) Re-Viewing Reception. Television, gender, and postmodern culture. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Marshall, T. H. (1950) Citizenship and social class and other essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Nussbaum, M. C. (1995) Poetic justice. The literary imagination and public life. Boston: Beacon Press. —. (1997) “The narrative imagination” pp. 85-112 in M.C. Nussbaum, Cultivating humanity: a classical defence of reform in liberal education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. —. (2001) Upheavals of Thought. The intelligence of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Poole, R. (1991) Morality and modernity. London/New York: Routledge. Redactie Politiek (2006) “Nieuwe zet van Balkenende in Campagne”, Trouw, 19 October 2006, pp. 4-5. Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, irony and solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. —. (2000) “The decline of redemptive truth and the rise of a literary culture”. (accessed 5 May 2003). Rosenblatt, L.M. (1938) Literature as Exploration. New York/London: D. Appleton-Century Company. Schudson, M. (1989) “How culture works. Perspectives from media studies on the efficacy of symbols”, Theory and Society, 18(2): 153180. Selnow, G. W. (1990) “Values in prime-time television”, Journal of Communication, 40(2): 64-74. SKO (2003) “Persbericht Kijkcijfers 2003”. (accessed 24 March 2004). Spigel, L., and Curtin, M. (1997) “Introduction” pp. 1-18 in L. Spigel and M. Curtin (eds) The Revolution wasn’t televised. Sixties television and social conflict. New York/London: Routledge. Tavener, J. (2000) “Media, morality, and madness: the case against sleaze TV”, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 17(1): 63-85.

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Tiles, J.E. (2000) Moral Measures. An Introduction to Ethics West and East. London/New York: Routledge. van Zoonen, L. (2004) Media, Cultuur & Burgerschap. Een Inleiding (3rd ed.). Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis. Vasterman, P.L.M. (2001) “Zinloos Geweld als Mediahype”, Bestuurskunde, 10(7): 299-309. Widdershoven, G.A.M. (1993) “The Story of Life: Hermeneutic Perspectives on the Relationship Between Narrative and Life History” pp. 1-20 in R. Josselson and A. Lieblich (eds) The Narrative Study of Lives (vol. 1). Newbury park/London/New Delhi: Sage Publications. Williams, R. (2003) Television. Technology and Cultural Form (2nd ed. [1974]). London/New York: Routledge.


Introduction This chapter explores the results of two research projects in the light of a genealogy of reception studies that focuses on its principal turning points. In “The Theoretical Legacy of Cultural Studies”, Hall (2000[1992]) refers to three crucial moments in the consolidation of Cultural Studies as a discipline, namely the predominance of orthodox Marxism, the rise of feminism and the emergence of racial issues. Adopting this methodology, critical of teleological or historicist narratives pertaining to any disciplinary formation, I intend to portray the discursive constitution of reception studies as inseparable from relations of power that characterize certain moments in the Anglo-American academic context. If Marxism, feminism and the “racial question” were of crucial importance to cultural studies, reception studies, as an integral part of that discipline, were influenced by those very topics. However, having appeared almost as an answer to the necessity for more closely heeding to a whole range of social, sexual and ethnic pluralities, reception studies were conditioned by specific academic relations of power and knowledge, namely the issues of decodification associated with semiotics, functionalist arguments linked to the democratization of television (TV) genres defended by feminism, and metacognitive and self-reflexive questions rooted in the entwinement of media discourse with other contemporary discourses. Perti Alasuutari (1999: 2-8) divides the progression of reception studies into three generations. He distinguishes the first by the predominance of interpretative frameworks that led to a distancing from

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


the then prevalent behavioural model of stimulus/response, the second by ethnographic studies of audiences, inextricably linked to identity politics of gender, race and class, and the third by the exploration of discourses that structure contemporary “media culture”. David Morley (1999: 96), on the other hand, alerts us to the danger of acritical adhesion to an evolutionary and unidirectional narrative of reception studies, founded on a “series of clear epistemological/methodological ‘breaks’”. Proposing a multidimensional model in preference to paradigms that supersede each other in a sequential temporal scale, Morley appeals to the recontextualization of old models, thus avoiding the temptation to consider the latter obsolete. Morley’s (1999: 197) objective is to formulate a model of media consumption that includes horizontal and vertical axes of power and participation so as to respond both to ideological questions subjacent to the transmission of programmes and contents as well as to issues related to the assimilation of media content in daily life. This chapter attempts to take account of the multidimensionality of the reception studies model in two ways. Firstly by analysing how Portuguese media representation of the Brazilian woman is perceived by Brazilian immigrants in Portugal1 and secondly by examining how Portuguese press representation of women is received by Portuguese women.2 Presentation of the results of these two research projects aims to recontextualize old models, such as the semiotic, that of uses and gratifications and, to a certain extent, the psychoanalytic, so as to intertwine them with the metadiscursive paradigm which Alasuutari (1999) signals as distinctive of actuality.

Media culture as metadiscourse The Foucauldian methodology of genealogy has sought to operate a synchronic cut into the past, taking as a point of departure any problematic 1

Conducted as a subproject of a wider research project titled “Immigrant Brazilian Women” (POCTI/COM/4553/2002), this reception study was coordinated by Isabel Ferin and funded jointly by the EU and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. The team consisted of Catarina Valdigem, Willy Filho, Inês D’Orey and myself. 2 Conducted as a subproject integrating a larger research project titled “The Discursive Representation of the Feminine in the Portuguese Press” (POCTI/COM/55780/2004), this reception analysis was coordinated by myself and funded jointly by the EU and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. The team was composed of Carla Baptista, Carla Martins, and Ana Jorge.


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that is visible in the present. Foucault (1991[1971]) attempts to trace the relations between knowledge and power responsible for the emergence of that very problematic in actuality. A genealogical analysis of reception studies, as such, implies a departure from the metadiscursive role of the media so as to establish the trajectory, imbued with power and knowledge, of contemporary media culture. Metadiscourse refers to the entwinement of media discourse with other discourses in the present. In the essay “Cultural Images of the Media”, Alasuutari (1999) examines the way in which individuals confer meaning on the media, seeking recourse, to this effect, in metaphors deriving from other spheres of contemporary life. This author classifies the metaphors invoked to understand the media under three categories: the first metaphor translates as a “window” image, provoking discussions over the degree of similarity between media products and so-called reality; the second metaphor is that of the “agora”, namely the media as a public forum for debate; the third metaphor concerns images associated with affective or personalized relationships with the media, through which consumers think of the media as “friends”, “narcotics”, or “stimulants” (Alasuutari, 1999: 87). These three metaphors may be applied to the research projects mentioned above, due to the themes of representational fidelity, agonistic public space and media functionality being subjacent to the results of the ethnographic analyses conducted. The metaphor of the media as a window on the world intertwines with the valorization of “realist” genres, such as broadcast news, to the detriment of the fictional genre, according to a logic that privileges the representational function of the media. In this perspective, the media allow for the establishment of a link with the external world, acting as a Mcluhanian extension of ourselves (Alasuutari, 1999: 89-90). It is no surprise, then, that we should encounter a social morality that condemns the visioning of TV genres which do not promote individual development. For Morley, this situation demonstrates that watching TV requires legitimation as a meritorious activity, worthy of the involvement of the adult citizen. “Factual” programmes confer this legitimation more easily, and individuals frequently feel compelled to apologize for watching TV fiction series rather than broadcast news, due to the commonsense equation of fiction with the trivial and news with an obligation inherent in citizenship (Alasuutari, 1999: 11). However, as Willy Filho suggests, in a media-dominated context characterized by the tabloidization of the press and broadcast news, the boundary that separates realist and fictional genres appears to fade because of the ubiquity of infotainment.

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In the context of our first project, which consisted of a reception study of Brazilian immigrants,3 the results pointed to the visibility of the eroticized and racialized Brazilian woman both in fictional as well as informational genres. This “intertextuality in the production of media genres” (Ferin, in Valdigem, 2006: 56) points to an increasing “confusion between the information/entertainment binary” (Filho, 2006: 103) that distinguishes the Portuguese TV panorama since the appearance of private channels, namely SIC and TVI in 1992 and 1993 respectively. Although these open air signal channels have been permeable, according to Willy Filho, to the theme of immigration, they nevertheless seek recourse in sensationalist news criteria to represent the latter. In the case of Brazilian women, private channel TV broadcasts frequently refer to the topic of prostitution, valuing “a certain erotic dimension” (Filho, 2006: 102). Citing Padilla, Valdigem (2006: 56) sustains that the “media connection between the Brazilian woman, the prostitute and the sensual mulata from the Tropics leads to the construction of the image of a racialized and ethnicized Brazilian woman, which conditions strategies of insertion and integration”. Valdigem (2006) draws attention to the frequent allusion to the themes of prostitution, affective relationships and physical beauty in the information and fictional genres regarding televisual representation of the Brazilian woman. Taking into account the metaphor of TV as a “window” on the world, there are, even amongst the interviewees–all of whom are Brazilian immigrants–some opinions which converge with the presupposition that the image of the Brazilian woman portrayed by the Portuguese media is true to “reality”: “I met one (a prostitute) in Spain, in Vigo, when I went to ask for information … She then told me that she worked at a club … I told her I lived and worked in Portugal. And she said I could come here and work at the club to triple my salary. I replied ‘No thanks’. I was sad because she told me of a son in Brazil, and that she sent money back home just to sustain him, in the Northeast–in those poorer parts” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 23)

As Ferin emphasizes, TV images coincide with the narratives of the personal experiences of the interviewees, a situation corresponding to the metaphor of the media as a window, i.e., as playing a representational role. 3

According to the September 2005 Portuguese Census, 85,344 legal residents belong to the Brazilian community. Counting roughly 60% men and 40% women, this community is essentially composed of working-age adults (Ferin, 2006: 5-6).


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The prevalent stereotypes within the theme of prostitution are those of “victim”, recruited deceptively by a network of women traffickers, and of the “professional” who opts, of her own free will, to become a prostitute (Ferin, in Peixoto, 2004). The results of the project that studies the consumption of news on the “feminine” by Portuguese women, indicate that women are most appealing as celebrities, in both a political and social capacity. Interviewees expressed their admiration for Portugal’s ex-first lady, Maria José Rita, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Indira Gandhi, the late PrimeMinister of India. The portrayal in the media of these women as able to penetrate the patriarchal world of power converts them into heroines that the interviewees would like to meet. This is visible in the following example: “Indira Ghandi, a brilliant politician, strategist and thinker, who possessed great political ambition and who occupied a position of great relevance in the Indian government that at the time was very patriarchal … I think she should be a model for many women in Portugal and the world over” (Sandra, 32 years old, teacher)

The interviewees also pay homage to celebrities, such as Audrey Hepburn, Angelina Jolie and Princess Di, due to their association, in the media, with the promotion of causes. This suggests that the discursive construction of women in the press is taken at face value by the interviewees, inspiring credibility and a non-critical attitude towards media products. Furthermore, the entwining of entertainment and information news criteria is visible in the fact that the category celebrity is transversal to the political as well as the society sections of the press. Women politicians are as admired as actresses or royalty: whereas politicians are held in high regard due to their capacity to enter the restricted domain of male power, actresses and celebrities are thought of as playing a role in the promotion of causes and in charity work. However, while the media provide a connection to the outside world, they can simultaneously misrepresent the object, leading audiences to distance themselves from any “referential reality”. In this perspective, the media as a window on the world lose transparency, due to being conditioned by ideological parameters that filter representation. Journalistic competence is related to the public’s capacity to perceive the media as agents that fabricate reality, and media products are assessed by the extent to which they draw close to their referents. Valdigem, for instance, claims that the referential reading of the Brazilian soap Senhora

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


do Destino, effected by the immigrant Sónia, presupposes “the convergence between fiction and Brazilian reality”: “The Senhora do Destino for example, when would a rich person ever frequent the slums of the Rio de Janeiro? It’s absurd! He would never go there! … Unless he were … connected to a trafficker, because that’s exactly what happens in real life–politicians being connected to traffickers from the slums … And they show such wealth on TV! Ah! The big car in the slum, I’ll bet! Of course, only in the soap! Some yeah, but others don’t show reality … I think that the soap O Clone was more true to life” (Interview, in Valdigem, 2006: 18)

Similarly, Cristina, who expressed admiration for women politicians, admits that the image of female power in the Portuguese media is glamorized and does not reflect reality: “I don’t think that a woman will ever become prime-minister in Portugal, because male power is just too strong here. Honestly, I think the great majority of the population would fear voting for a woman… This contrasts with the image of power of women politicians in the media” (Cristina, 38 years old, teacher)

In both these cases, we can see that criticism of the alleged tendency of the media to distort reality is founded on the value judgement that they should provide a transparent “window” on the world in which we live. The image of the media as an agora or forum for public debate of ideas, is related to the specific idea of an audience. While the pedagogical model of communication suggests that the state monopoly of the media, under the form of public service, is geared towards an educational function, the commercial model of the media is based on a view that equates the public with a market. If the ideology of public service seeks to defend “freedom of expression”, the ideology of the commercial model advocates the “freedom of choice” of the public (Alasuutari, 1999: 91). The increasing tabloidization of the media appears, however, to have threatened the dichotomy between public service and privately financed media, for public media also provide a platform for the entwining of information and entertainment. In this context of liberalization of media regulation, the existence of audience segments that appeal to the educational function of the media can come as a surprise. Sónia, for example, accuses the media, namely advertising and TV soaps produced in Brazil, of propagating negative stereotypes of the Brazilian woman:


Chapter Six “Of course! We always see beautiful women! And so seductive! It’s always the same! But our country creates that image! That goes without saying … I’ve never been in favour of this” (Interview, in Valdigem, 2006: 18)

The Portuguese interviewee, Sandra, regards the media as having a responsibility to alert the common citizen to abusive behaviour, such as domestic violence. In this perspective, the media play a role in promoting a consensual political correctness delimiting acceptable from unacceptable conduct. This construction, which is also described in the Dutch context (see chapter by Krijnen in this volume), is articulated by one of the interviewees as follows: “The media are too sensationalist. I think they should only focus on private matters if there has been child abuse or domestic violence, that is, in situations that call for protection. In normal situations, each citizen should live as he/she sees fit, without media interference” (Sandra, 32 years old, teacher)

The third set of media representations concern the role played by the media in individuals’ daily lives. This metaphor is characterized by heterogeneity, due to the diversity of forms through which the media affect the daily life and the interpersonal relationships of citizens by providing information and entertainment services (Alasuutari, 1999: 92). Because media effects studies tend to concentrate on the distortion of representation operated by the media, this last metaphor evokes “dependence”, namely that of “narcotics” or “stimulants”, to the extent that these threaten the individual autonomy of media consumers. In the project on Brazilian immigrants, the incapacity of individuals to clearly distinguish between real life and an imaginary world constructed by the media is demonstrated by the fact that, in some cases, the decision to immigrate to Portugal was fomented due to the circulation of positive images of this country on the TV Globo programme Fantástico, and articles in Veja News Magazine, as illustrated by the following quote: “This programme [Fantástico] accentuated the opportunities of a fastgrowing economy, of employment, of the ease of the language and of the hospitality of the Portuguese” (Machado, in Ferin, 2006: 13)

Likewise, in the project on the reception of press discourse on the feminine, the interviewees draw a link between the power of celebrity based on beauty and the power of celebrity based on the ability to penetrate a male-dominated world, applying these media stereotypes to

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


their experience in the “real world”. Where the power of actresses and socialites is associated with femininity, that of women politicians evokes masculinity. Despite professing their admiration for women politicians, the interviewees reveal some hostility towards the “feminist” behaviour of the latter, establishing a parallelism between feminism and masculinity: “Our women politicians are all a bit masculine … just like Margaret Thatcher, the way they dress, their hair, their rigid behaviour. That’s completely visible in Manuela Ferreira Leite, for example” (Cristina, 38 years old, teacher)

This assertion leads another interviewee to conjecture that, in the real world, “many women have to become masculine so as to obtain recognition, behaving arrogantly just so that they may be taken seriously” (Sandra, 32 years old, teacher). As such, we witness that globalized media stereotypes, just as that of the woman politician as a masculine warrior, hold sway over local interpretations of reality. In being producers of a plurality of narratives on the possible identities that could be concretized, the media can simultaneously bring to daily life “a concatenation of ideas, terms and images, including ‘freedom’, ‘welfare’, ‘rights’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘representation’ and the master-term ‘democracy’” (Appadurai, 1993: 331). Read positively, the enriching of the imagination thus becomes an emancipatory force that permits individuals to reorganize strategies of action so as to assume new trajectories of life, based on the entwining of local and global paths. One of the objectives of the research project on Brazilian immigrants was to analyse the role of the media in reconfiguring the imaginaries of these immigrants in Portugal. The entwining of individual and localized identities with abstract identities, of a global character, may prove a conflictual process. This situation manifests itself in the confrontation between an “imagined community”4 that imagines itself on the basis of common cultural symbols–such as language, national founding myths and the sharing of traditions–and the local contextualization of this very community. The intertwining of Brazilian and Portuguese imaginaries is thus facilitated by the telenovelas, as well as by news, both of which are responsible for the transmission of stereotypes relative to Brazilian society 4

Developed by Benedict Anderson, the concept of “imagined community” alludes to the ties of communion that extend horizontally between the members of a particular group. These ties are founded on the symbolism of a common imagination (Anderson, 1983).


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and women, visible in the spaces of daily interaction, such as work situations, to which the following quote alludes: “When I first came here, yes. People kept me at a certain distance maybe due to thinking … well … ‘One more who’s here for adventure, who knows, maybe to steal a husband from a Portuguese woman’–and that just wasn’t true–‘or to steal work from someone else’” (Interview, in Valdigem, 2006: 12)

Similarly, the intertwining of masculine and feminine imaginaries is facilitated by the representation of women in the media as “powerful” both in the political and social sections of newspapers. As previously indicated, this view of power reinforces stereotypes regarding “feminine” and “masculine” attributes that manifest themselves in the daily allocation of gender roles, exemplified by the following excerpt: “We are what our experiences make of us. But I really want to emphasize that we don’t all have to be equal! I think it’s stupid that women feel they have to be equal and fight for that equality. We both–men and women– have to be good at what we do, but each according to his/her role!” (Graça, 38 years old, doctor)

It should be noted that while Alasuutari (1993) considers the effect of the media on individuals’ daily lives as constituting a potential danger, due to the difficulties these people have in distinguishing a social construction of the media from the referential real, we can simultaneously emphasize the emancipatory dimension of contemporary mediascapes.5 As such, if in a first instance the media are catalysing agents of stereotypes, fixing identities to certain ontologically essentialist representations, they are nevertheless agents of freedom due to their transmitting new lifestyles and differentiated identities.

Preferred, negotiated and oppositional readings The objective of carrying out a genealogy of reception studies which takes as its starting point contemporary media culture, implies a focus on the most significant moments of reception studies that remain visible in the way we think of the media in actuality. Hall’s (1980) essay 5

For Appadurai (1993: 332-3), mediascapes consist of the localized “perspectives” of media narratives and images which are in permanent flux. Whilst promoting fantasies about other experiences and life-styles, these are always contextually interpreted.

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


“Encoding/Decoding in TV Discourse” constitutes a crucial moment in what would come to be designated as “reception studies”. Instead of presuming meanings as inherent in any text, Hall considers these to be construed at the point of intersection between text and reader, opposing the concept of a public whose elements would correspond to passive consumers of mass culture. Hall emphasizes that there is nothing natural about any type of communication: messages have to be construed before being transmitted. And just as the production of a message consists in an active and social event, so to does its moment of reception. As such, a perfect fit between the producers’ conceptualization of how their messages will be interpreted by the audience and the effective decodification of the messages by the heterogeneous elements that constitute the audience rarely occurs (Hall, 1980: 131). However, although media messages are subject to distinct readings depending on both the context of reception as well as the socialization process undergone by the receiver, they are nevertheless composed of a set of normative codes that are perceived as natural. It is therefore probable that these messages will be interpreted according to the intentions of the producer who codifies the message. Hall (1980) emphasizes the fact that hegemonic meanings are not imposed unilaterally, but rather are articulated as preferred readings. Dominant meanings are suggested through media techniques destined to legitimate decodification of an event within the “mapping” of hegemonic definitions. The codification process consists of an attempt to define the parameters within which decodification can occur, presupposing that not all connotative codes boast the same status in any particular culture (Hall, 1980: 134). Hall claims that the decoding process can occur in three distinct ways: preferred, negotiated and oppositional readings. When adhering to the preferred meaning, the reader decodes the referential code used to construe the message. This procedure rarely occurs in practice: the majority of individuals adopt “negotiated” positions, theoretically accepting the hegemonic preferred reading, but seeking an interpretation in tune with local specificities. An oppositional reading occurs when an individual decodes a message by using a reference code that constitutes an alternative to the code on the basis of which the message was originally construed (Hall, 1980: 136-8).

Negotiating ethnic stereotypes Hall’s ideas clarify the way Brazilian immigrants negotiate TV news excerpts that focus on the Brazilian woman as primordially engaging in


Chapter Six

activities related to prostitution in Portugal. Taking into account the fact that dominant meanings are articulated through techniques that seek to reinforce a particular connotative mapping, Willy Filho concentrates on the construction of the image of the Brazilian woman in TV news features on prostitution and trafficking of women. Filho suggests that in their representation of “night-club entertainment”, these features frequently use “chromatic contrasts”, so as to create a “light and shadow dynamics” (Villafañe, in Filho, 2006: 134) and “tonalities of blue that confer a certain granulation to the image”, without ever referring to the precise locality in which the feature takes place. Filho also points to the “non-synchronic playing of music, in the background, that pervades scenes showing women dancing on what one presumes to be a stage” (Filho, 2006: 134). This music, independent of style, intends to draw attention to strip scenes. We here witness that TV producers use colours, textures and music so as to legitimate the decoding of the representations transmitted within a mapping that equates “stripper” with “Brazilian women”. This happens without the audience being able to confirm whether the strippers in question are really Brazilian or not. The homogeneity in the representation of “night-clubs” and of strippers illustrates a metonymic operation whereby the part is mistaken for the whole: according to the logic of metonymy, a night-club is representative of the workplaces that recruit Brazilian women, just as a stripper symbolizes the professional activity of Brazilian women par excellence. A preferred reading of TV features on Brazilian women is negotiated by Brazilian immigrants in contexts of localized interaction, such as in the workplace or social activities. Under these circumstances, the interviewees frequently confront attitudes that are rooted in eroticized media images. They seek to fight back against these stereotypes by adopting behaviour that is more contained than in Brazil: “In Brazil, people interact in a more relaxed way. There is less prejudice. Here we have to adopt a completely different posture …” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 19). Negotiation can also imply “reinterpreting” the connotative meaning of images of prostitution by reframing the latter within a narrative of discrimination that points to the interference of stereotypes in the immigrants’ daily lives, as illustrated in this example: “I work at a till in a Supermarket. I contact with many people. When they hear my accent, even on the mike, many women pinch their husbands. You know, because I’m Brazilian …” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 22)

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


Narratives on discrimination are associated with the fear of an increase in competition for work. That stereotypes may thus play the role of devaluing potential competition is clear in the following quote: “When I first came here, people held me at a certain distance, maybe due to thinking … well … Now, they admit: ‘Julia, it’s exactly like that, because the impression we had of you was completely different; now we know you and we understand the difference’. In the beginning, it was difficult. Then they got to know me and were able to separate me from their ideas of Brazilians” (Interview, in Valdigem, 2006: 12)

By emphasizing a distinction between herself and stereotypes of Brazilian women, Julia adopts a strategy of “de-ethnicization” with the objective of being able to integrate better in the local context (Valdigem, 2006: 68). However, other immigrants assume the essentialist characteristics of “ethnic subjectivity” as a bonus at their work place, interpreting discrimination in light of positive stereotypes of Brazilians: “There are people and people. For example, you find people who like to employ Brazilians because of the atmosphere at work … Brazilians are jolly! … They’re nicer, warmer, and some don’t like us because of this” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 17)

Stereotypical representations of Brazilians are also the target of oppositional readings whereby media messages are interpreted alternatively to the preferred connotative mapping, as stressed in the following excerpt: “… from the moment there’re Brazilians in that profession, there’re also Portuguese, Africans, women of all countries. It’s just that the Brazilian woman has that other thing: they’re prettier, more provocative, more communicative. That’s what draws attention to the Brazilian woman, not the idea that she’s more depraved than other women” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 22)

Here, the interviewee decodes the image that equates “Brazilian woman” with “prostitute”, resorting to an alternative code of reference to the original one due to disarticulating the activity of prostitution from any characteristic of ethnic subjectivity. According to this logic, although there are prostitutes of all races and nationalities, the Brazilian woman, due to her “essentialist”, or “ethnicized” qualities, namely beauty, sensuality and communicative capacity, becomes potentially more attractive than other women.


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The images of the soap Senhora do Destino are also subject to oppositional readings on the part of an interviewee who does not consider them to be representative of Brazilian “reality”. For Valdigem, this interpretation “attempts to maintain affective links to natal territory”, by reinforcing the sentiment of “belonging” to an imagined and reinvented community of “Brazilian immigrant women in diaspora” (2006: 73-4). As such, by distancing herself from the images of the telenovela, the interviewee emphasizes the division between ethnic and autochthonous subjectivities, characterizing the latter by an incapacity to distinguish between Brazilian “reality and fiction”.

Negotiating stereotypes of motherhood The prevalent connotative mapping of Portuguese press articles, centring on women as subject and object of news, is that of power, in both the public and private spheres. While women chiefly appear involved in political or show-biz activities in the public domain, they are frequently associated with maternal roles in the private realm. The capacity to wield power transverses the public and private dichotomy, with women perceived, in these roles, as exercising influence and authority. While in the quality of politicians they are often depicted as “female warriors” or “iron ladies” with masculine characteristics, show-biz women or socialites are often associated with the promotion of causes, an association which may lead to the inference that the signifier “beauty” connotes “goodness” and “models to be followed”. As mothers, women are portrayed according to four principal categories: mother-courage, the proud mother, the murderous mother and the negligent mother (Martins, 2006). The representation of motherhood in the Portuguese press is laden with moral undertones of approval or condemnation, contrary to the portrayal of women in the public sphere where value-judgements are more subdued. Martins’ claims that stereotypes of motherhood are closely articulated with preconceived notions of normality and family deviance, where familial dysfunctionality is singled out as a justificatory factor in deviant actions and behaviour. Family values are thus defended in the press, under the form of a stable and conventional union in which the woman has a crucial role as mother and educator. Even news features which focus on professional women who are neither involved in politics nor in show-biz, explicitly refer to the way they handle marriage and children. When this stable context is absent, the situation alone can explain deviant acts in children and adolescents.

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


When confronted with press articles on lesbian motherhood, the interviewees negotiated the preferred reading differently according to the context in which they found themselves. The first focus group we interviewed was composed only of women; in the second interview, men were introduced into the focus group so that we could assess their influence on opinions that had previously been expressed. In the first interview, the prevalent opinion had pointed to an oppositional reading of what the interviewees considered “conservative” journalistic attitudes towards the possibility of adoption or parental tutelage by gay or lesbian couples. The following excerpt elicited almost consensual agreement: “Why not? Although I think that the presence of a man in the life of a child may be useful and healthy, those masculine references can be acquired either by a solid education or by the child’s ‘mothers’ or yet by someone close to the couple. No one should be prevented from having a child they love close by” (Sandra, 32 years old, teacher)

Despite distancing themselves from the parallelism, frequently drawn by the Portuguese media, between non-conventional family life and dysfunctional children, these interviewees moderated their opinions in a second group interview in which men were also present, as exemplified below: “It depends on the type of relation lesbians have. Maybe they can be efficient in educating a child. But it’s not exactly the same thing as having a father and a mother” (Cristina, 38 years old, teacher)

When discussing the issue of press representation of motherhood with men, Cristina and Graça adhere to the preferred connotative mapping which links psychologically healthy children to parental heterosexuality. By distancing themselves from their previous discourse on the matter, they adopt a strategy of “pro-traditionalism” with the aim of integrating smoothly into their localized context of interaction. Sandra, however, reinterprets her previous position in the light of a reversal of prevalent stereotypes, thus devaluing the role of biological sex in a traditionally masculine/feminine gendered parental relationship. By opposing male and female biological stereotypes, she manages to hang on simultaneously to positive masculine and feminine gendered stereotypes of parenthood: “All mothers have different experiences. The same occurs with men. We should assess the capacities of each one. Sometimes, in a couple, the woman plays a more masculine role and the father a more feminine role” (Sandra, 32 years old, teacher)


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Negotiation can also entail a reframing of the connotative meaning of motherhood by contextualizing the latter within a narrative of personal experience. Curiously, Sofia, who had remained relatively silent in the first interview, held steadfastly to the opinions that the focus group had previously expressed. Through the projection of her own experience onto a narrative of discrimination against homosexuals, Sofia conducts an oppositional reading of media messages, applying an alternative code to the preferred connotation. She thus can be seen as adopting a strategy oppositional to “integration” within the group, visible in the following claim: “This is a social problem. It has to do with prejudice. When I was a child, I was singled out at school for not being baptized. I lived with that prejudice and grew up with it” (Sofia, 27 years old, artist) “That’s in the past” (Gustavo, 25 year old, forest engineer) “Exactly, no one cares about that nowadays. Likewise, a few years from now, no one will care about their parents being gay or not” (Sofia, 27 years old, artist)

By emphasizing a distinction between her own position and that of other women in the group, Sofia may be following a strategy of “defeminization” with the aim of drawing attention to herself through a selfassertion that contrasts with a previous silence when being interviewed among a group of women. By steering away from stereotypes of femininity, Sofia is simultaneously reasserting their validity by reinforcing the distinction between feminine/non-feminine subjectivities, characterizing femininity by an excessive preoccupation with interactional integration.

The “feminist” turn Another crucial moment in the genealogy of reception studies that has influenced current outlooks on media culture is that of the articulation of feminism with uses and gratification theory.6 Ethnographic research conducted by Janice Radway (1984) has been crucial in this area, for it 6

Originally formulated by Blumler and Katz, the uses and gratification theory sought to draw away from the theme of media effects by exploring the way audiences utilized the media so as to satisfy individual necessities (Katz et al., 1974).

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


sought to present the study of the consumption of popular literature as a counterpoint to the formalist analysis of narrative structures of canonic texts. Radway’s Reading the Romance (1984) signals an important moment in new audience research, i.e. in North-American reception studies. Opting to focus on readers of romantic fiction situated in Smithton, a small town in the Midwest, Radway first attempted to explain the fascination readers felt for romantic fiction by analysing narrative details. However, she rapidly concluded that the main attraction of this type of fiction resides not in the narratives themselves but rather in the pleasure deriving from the act of reading (Radway, 1984: 86). Radway emphasizes the importance of distinguishing narratives from the meanings that readers attribute to the latter in the act of consuming romantic fiction. In the first place, reading these novels provided a temporary escape from domestic activities. Secondly, the readers’ favourite heroines were usually described as “independent” and “intelligent”. By encouraging women to believe that marriage and maternity are not necessarily connotative of loss of autonomy or identity, the act of reading reveals itself as combative and emancipatory (Radway, 1991: 211). Thus, although the narrative structure of romantic fiction may be characterized as conservative and patriarchal, its readers often develop oppositional interpretations that help them deal with the sexed nature of power. In the context of the Brazilian immigrant interviewees, we witnessed that alternative readings to the televisual narratives on Brazilians were adopted so as to mitigate the implications of sexed power in daily life. By affirming that the current situation is improving in relation to the past, due to the decline in news items that associate Brazilian immigrants with prostitution, the interviewees create defence strategies that allow them a certain distance from uncomfortable stereotypes. A temporal dichotomy delineated around “past” and “present” structures the concept of discrimination, recognized by those immigrants as a circumstantial phenomenon. Likewise, when confronted with press articles defending the introduction of quota systems in order to reinforce female political participation, Portuguese interviewees revealed a clearly oppositional reading, despite having previously claimed that they would like to see more women politicians in parliament and government: “Quotas don’t make sense nowadays, especially because couples don’t follow conventional roles anymore. Both men and women share domestic work according to necessity. A couple works like a team now. But sometimes it’s just an issue of efficiency. It’s more efficient if I cook rather


Chapter Six than my partner. It boils down to aptitude, not convention” (Cristina, 38 year old, teacher)

By pointing to quota systems as inherently paternalistic, the interviewees adhere to oppositional interpretations in an attempt to cope with the sexed power of daily life. Connotatively, they are insinuating that special treatment is not needed because women are, in fact, equal to men. Discourse on equality thus comes across as a defence strategy that permits these interviewees to distance themselves from stereotypes of female fragility that make them feel uncomfortable. Similarly to the Brazilian immigrants, the Portuguese interviewees also define a temporal dichotomy between a “past” in which equality between the sexes did not exist and a “present” in which alleged full-fledged parity dispenses with any need for the implementation of measures geared towards the promotion of an “artificial” equality. However, Cristina, for instance, reveals various contradictions in her view on equality, arguing that women manifest certain essentialist “aptitudes” which endow them with greater efficiency in domestic activities than men. Ien Ang also focused on the female public in her reception analysis of the Dallas soap, in Watching Dallas (Ang, 1985). According to Ang, the greater part of Dallas fans did not consider the soap to be realistic at a denotative level. However, connotatively, the characters, the relations and the situations were read as entirely recognizable. Ang thus concludes that the realism of the Dallas experience is situated not at a cognitive but rather at an emotional level; in other words, spectators recognized as authentic the transmission of a subjective experience of the world, that is, a “structure of feeling”,7 rather than an objective social reality (Ang, 1985: 45). Extrapolating to the case of the Brazilian telenovelas, one could argue that the existence of “empathy” between audiences and media product is less indebted to denotative realism than to a “structure of feeling” common to the Luso-Brazilian community. Processes of identification in the viewing of TV programmes are indeed of crucial importance to any discussion centring on gendered media consumption. For example, Geraghty (1996), interrogates the motives that drive women to establish projective identifications with certain female characters or with scenes mimicking daily life (Geraghty1996: 313). Film studies and TV studies have both sought to explore this issue. While 7

The concept of “structure of feeling” is rooted in the cultural materialism of Raymond Williams, referring to daily lived experience as opposed to the systematized ideological beliefs that characterize any particular historical conjuncture (Williams, 1988).

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


Mulvey (1989[1975]) applied psychoanalytic semiotics to film texts, suggesting that the latter led women to identify masochistically with the male protagonist, viewing themselves as object through the masculine gaze, other authors, such as Ang (1991[1985]), suggest that even negative representations of women and of their experiences could constitute a “source of identification and pleasure”. This situation occurs due to female spectators implicitly perceiving the pressure of the “real” on “subjectivities, desires and ambitions” (Ang, in Geraghty, 1996: 316). Although it may be difficult to affirm that Brazilian immigrants draw satisfaction from news pieces that represent their compatriots as prostitutes, those images nevertheless help define a “gendered ethnic subjectivity” against which immigrants come to identify themselves. “The key points of broadcasts on Brazilian women still centre on prostitution. But there are many Brazilians who have triumphed here in business and commerce. Those other Brazilians spoil the image of the honest ones, of those who worry and work” (Interview, in Ferin, 2006: 22)

The interviewees are nevertheless implicitly conscious of the masternarrative of “life trajectories” that underpins the individual and personal history of Brazilian immigrants in Portugal, a history that is related to a relentless search for better living conditions. Thus, in conformity with the results obtained by Ang’s reception study on the Dallas soap, spectators of news features associating Brazilian women immigrants with prostitution are aware, on a connotative level, of a “structure of feeling” subjacent to immigration that is related to the imposition of economic conditionings on subjectivities, desires and ambitions. Although the reception study of Portuguese press articles did not focus on visual representations, but rather on the discursive representations of the feminine, it nevertheless remains pertinent to explore how the selected articles constitute their news object as a source of identification and recognition for readers. The latter were mostly interested in women who had celebrity status, either due to careers in politics or show-biz. The fact that the interviewees admitted to a discrepancy between the power of women represented in papers and the power of women in “real” life testifies to the fact that even newspapers are not always valued for their denotative transparency. In such cases, we perhaps may infer that more than a cognitive realism, the readers were searching for an emotional realism that would allow them to recognize as true the representation of gendered subjective experience. The interviewees sensed, by intuitive experience, that it is difficult for women to enter a traditionally maledominated sphere of power such as politics, and that the fear of fragility


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leads women politicians to adopt a masculine demeanour. While this masculinity is resented, it is simultaneously understood, as the interviewees themselves reflected this strategy in their opposition to quota systems favouring what they regard as an artificial and paternalistic equality. Similarly, while the life-style and glamour of celebrities may not be realistic at a denotative level, readers emotionally recognize the subjective experience of feminine power in a “structure of feeling” that evokes beauty, glamour, wealth and seduction. Inspiring pleasure, these fantasies are real in that they are founded on a consensual hegemonic selective tradition that defines socially valorized representations of femininity.

Conclusion The two reception study projects I have drawn on illustrate the validity of a multidimensional media model (Morley, 1999) that attends to ideological issues of content conditioning whilst simultaneously emphasizing the polysemy of media messages. The principal turning points that have here been traced as an integral part of a genealogy of reception studies are those in which a dominant relation of power and knowledge becomes particularly visible, opening the way to its redefinition. Analysing the complex processes inherent in the coding and decoding of media messages, Hall’s (1980) essay points to media texts as particular instances in which predominant social and political structures become visible through spectators’ divergent readings. Resisting the hegemony of mass communication research, a current that centred itself on the unilateral effects of the media, Hall’s position may thus be interpreted as an oppositional reading regarding the positivist North-American tendency that prevailed in the 1970s. Radway’s (1984) research signals a distancing from semiotics, i.e. from analysis of the narrative structure of texts, and an approximation to ethnographic methodologies in the analysis of the consumption of media texts. This author emphasizes textual polysemy only to the extent that it provides to the common female reader of popular romantic fiction an emancipatory instrument. The study of the uses of popular culture in daily life, geared towards the satisfaction of subjective necessities, thus marks a democratic vein in Cultural Studies. Lastly, by emphasizing Dallas as being perceived realistically by spectators only on an emotional level, Ang (1991[1985]) also draws away from an analysis of the narrative structure of the soap opera, centring on the interaction between media text and spectator.

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


In a great part of reception studies, especially the more recent research, we witness that spectators cease to be considered blindly manipulated, passive consumers, and acquire instead the status of active participants in the reinscription of media texts. It comes as no surprise, then, that in its pluralist impulse reception studies should have been strongly influenced by feminist authors, due to feminist theory being characterized by the will to deconstruct and redefine prevalent social and political structures. Contemporary media culture is characterized by multidimensionality, spanning the major turning points mentioned above. Due to an increase in migratory fluxes, the accentuation of economic differences between northern and southern hemispheres, as well as a pervasive interrogation of societal gender roles, media culture is now frequently described as a mediascape responsible for the propagation of new lifestyles. However superficial this propagation may be, it remains inseparable from a new conceptualization of the “imagination”. In this context, the latter loses its traditional association with Marxist alienation,8 actively promoting a greater fluidity in redefinitions of trajectories of life. In the first research project analysed, new lifestyles revive a LusoBrazilian imagined community that affirms itself through a shared colonial legacy. If in a first moment Brazilian women choose Portugal as a destination due to linguistic and cultural similarities with their native country, they are targeted, as immigrants, by the “myth of the woman from the tropics, available, sensual and accentuating the nostalgia of a Portuguese imperial past” (Ferin, 2006: 30). The Portuguese colonial imagination thus reveals itself as polysemic, simultaneously invested with meanings of integration as well as discrimination. The second research project points to the redefinition of gender roles in the press as reviving traditional stereotypes of femininity. Such processes of identification with existing stereotypes become particularly visible in contexts of intermingling between the sexes. Despite revealing pro-feminist attitudes when alone, the interviewees reframe their interpretations in a second moment, seeking recourse in a superficially pro-feminist discourse of equality to oppose the implementation of pro-feminist political measures. Similar to the Portuguese colonial imagination, the definition of feminine identity manifests itself as polysemic, simultaneously connoting the affirmation of autonomy as well as the need for social legitimation. In both projects, media discourse mediates between two contrary poles, interfering in the daily interaction of social agents. However, each 8

Appadurai (2003: 327) suggests that by facilitating new “deterritorialized” possibilities, the media actively promote a new actionism that is based on the imagination as “social practice”, structuring new forms of sociability and work.


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interviewee negotiates stereotypes, at times agreeing with hegemonic tendencies, at other times carrying out oppositional readings. Although greatly influenced by the imagination, these gestures, corresponding to a repositioning of identity, nevertheless remain conditioned by the imperative of the real.

References Alasuutari, P. (1999) “Introduction: Three Phases of Media Studies” pp.121 in P. Alasuutari (ed.) Rethinking the Audience: The New Agenda. London: Sage. —. (1999) “Cultural Images of the Media” pp.86-104 in Alasuutari, P. (ed.) Rethinking the Audience: The New Agenda. London: Sage. Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Ang, I. (1991[1985]) Watching Dallas. London: Routledge. Appadurai, A. (1993 [1990]) “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy” pp. 324-339 in P. Williams et al. (eds) Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Herfordshire: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Ferin, I. (2006) “Media e Imaginários: Estratégias de Apropriação de Conteúdos pelas Brasileiras em Portugal”, Media & Jornalismo, 8: 733. Filho, W. (2006) “Técnicas de Construção no Jornalismo Televisivo Português: A Mulher Brasileira”, Media & Jornalismo, 8: 101-36. Foucault, Michel (1991 [1971]) “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” pp. 76100 in P. Rabinow (ed.) The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Geraghty, C. (1996) “Feminism and Media Consumption” pp. 306-22 in J. Curran, D. Morley and V. Walkerdine (eds), Cultural Studies and Communications. London: Arnold. Hall, S. (1980) “Encoding/Decoding in Television Discourse” pp. 128-38 in S. Hall, D. Hobson, A. Lowe and P. Willis (eds) Culture, Media, Language: Working Papers in Cultural Studies, 1972-79, London: Routledge. —. (2000 [1992]) “O Legado Teórico dos Estudos Culturais”, Revista de Comunicação e Linguagens, 28: 65-81. Katz, E., J. G. Blumler and M. Gurevitch (1995 [1974]) “Utilisation of Mass Communication by the Individual” pp. 164-73 in O. BoydBarrett et al. (eds) Approaches to Media: A Reader. London: Arnold.

Reception Studies as a Multidimensional Model


Martins, C. (2006) “A Representação do Feminino na Imprensa Portuguesa”. Unpublished paper. Seminário Internacional Media, Jornalismo e Democracia, Lisbon. Morley, D. (1999) “‘To Boldly Go...’: The ‘Third Generation of Reception Studies’” pp. 195-205 in P. Alasuutari (ed.) Rethinking the Audience: The New Agenda. London: Sage. Mulvey, L. (1989 [1975]) “Visual Pleasure and the Narrative Cinema” in L. Mulvey Visual and Other Pleasures (Theories of Representation and Difference) Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Peixoto, J. (2004) “As Teorias Explicativas das Migrações: Teorias Micro e Macrosociológicas”, SOCIUS Working Papers 11/04: 1-36. Radway, J. (1987 [1984]) Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. London: Verso. Valdigem, C. (2006) “Usos dos Media e Identidade: Brasileiras num Salão de Beleza”, Media & Jornalismo 8: 55-78. Williams, R. (1988 [1977]) Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



Introduction The European Union (EU) policy agenda could be conceived of as a twostep process in which issues are listed on the agenda and then discussed to produce policy outcomes. The setting of the agenda is highly contested in both stages. The competences of the EU have expanded dramatically since the mid 1990s. Member states have lost vast amounts of sovereignty over certain policy areas, such as competition, agriculture, environment, and issues related to the single market and the monetary union, but also over areas not already regulated by the EU, such as social and cultural policies (Richardson, 2001). The expansion of the EU agenda has not been smooth, and has been characterized by intense inter-governmental negotiation between the EU and the member states over the allocation of power and tasks. Policy selection has also been controversial due to the multi-level character of a policy-making allowing the participation of multiple actors (Marks, 1992). In this stage, EU institutions–the Commission, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Parliament (EP), and the Council–enter into a process of bargaining, sometimes concurring with non-governmental actors, such as lobbies and interest groups. In this search for support for its initiatives, the Commission has tried frequently to engage relevant stakeholders in the policy process. Several studies highlight how the Commission has resorted to interest groups to overcome possible obstacles to integration across different policy areas (Coen, 1998; Mazey and Richardson, 2001; Nesti, 2005). The “interested parties”–as the Commission usually refers to such organizations–play a role in European policy-making: they provide political support and legitimacy in a context where the traditional representative channels, such as the Parliament and

The Debate on Media Pluralism in the European Union


political parties, are weak. Lobby groups also provide technical information and expertise in order to formulate effective policies in complex areas such as competition, research and development, among others (Streeck and Schmitter, 1991; Mazey and Richardson, 2001). The debate on media pluralism at the EU level is representative of these dynamics. Although the notion of media pluralism is inherently complex and worthy of more exhaustive discussion, it is conceived of in this chapter in terms of internal pluralism–i.e. related to the presence of different sources of information and different media outlets, reflecting cultural and political diversity, and external pluralism–referring to the presence of different media owners within the market. These terms are closely interconnected, since power concentration in media market is supposed to directly hinder internal pluralism and the freedoms of information and expression, although this causal link has yet to be empirically confirmed. Media pluralism with its political and cultural implications, constitutes a fundamental aspect of media policy in every nation. EU regulation first addressed broadcasting with the publication of the Television Without Frontiers (TWF) directive in 1989. This directive had a strong industry focus, and did not tackle relevant democratic questions, such as content diversity, media independence and media pluralism, mainly due to the limited competences of the EU on these issues. There is, in fact, no clear legal basis in the Treaty of the European Community for the Commission’s competence in media pluralism, apart from a vague reference to cultural matters: “the Community shall take cultural aspects into account when it acts under other provisions of the Treaty” (Art. 151 (4) TEC). Political actors and civil society organizations often cite cultural policy as a possible link to support a European action in the field of media. However, every legal act issued under this article requires adoption of the co-decision procedure and the unanimous vote of the Council. As media pluralism is a sensitive issue, with diverging regulations in different member states according to their political and cultural traditions, achieving unanimity on common legislation would be difficult. Media pluralism also relates to core economic interests, as media regulation and ownership control have direct implications for the media market. As a consequence, media pluralism has been a constant source of unsolved disputes among member states, European institutions, and non-governmental actors since the early 1970s. This chapter aims at investigating the reasons underlying the emergence of the debate on pluralism at EU level, the main actors involved in this debate, and the framing of discussion and its evolution


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over the years, which have contributed to the failure of any attempt to regulate media pluralism at supranational level. Using the lens of historical institutionalism would be a fruitful approach to interpreting the policy dynamics stemming from the debate on media pluralism. According to this approach, EU institutions: 1) are active actors in the integration process and in policy-making; 2) influence the distribution of power within a political arena by offering opportunities for actions that could favour some groups or coalitions over others, and 3) tend to be persistent. Policymaking is therefore conditioned by legacies, and policies can be conceived of as “path-dependent”, in other words, influenced by their history. Policy change emerges only in the case of critical junctures that open up the way for possible new courses of action (Bulmer, 1998; Hall and Taylor, 1996). The debate on media pluralism has been heavily influenced by conflicts among institutions and non-governmental actors allied in two “loose coalitions”–debating a EU regulatory intervention to protect pluralism. The different roles of EU institutions and civil society actors in this debate emerge from an analysis of the structure of political opportunities in the supranational arena. While institutional constraints have limited the opportunities for intervention by the Commission, they have also threatened the actions of some non-governmental groups. Finally, the unsuccessful attempt to regulate media pluralism at EU level could be the result of the incisive pressure from a particular coalition in a bid to maintain the status quo, combined with the inertial force inherent in previous agreed policies. The case study in this chapter consists of a diachronic and in-depth analysis of the policy process, with a focus on issues, actors and causal relations. This is achieved by identifying opinions in the inter-institutional debate, in the official documents issued by the main European institutions. These materials include binding and non-binding acts issued by the Council of Europe (CoE), the ECJ, the EP and the Commission since the 1970s, and position papers submitted by non-governmental actors during consultations. In addition, four key-events in the media pluralism debate are analysed to exemplify civil society positions: the consultation on the 1992 Green Paper on Pluralism and Concentration in Media Markets (CEC, 1992); the consultation on the 2003 Green Paper on Services of General Interest (CEC, 2003a), and the two rounds of consultations for the revision of the TWF directive held between 2003 and 2005, in which a specific session was devoted to media pluralism.

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Launch of the debate on media pluralism and the TWF directive The Committee of Ministries and the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE have been engaged in debates on media since 1970 and Resolution 70 (19) on educational and cultural uses of radio and television in Europe and the relations in this respect between public authorities and broadcasting organizations. This short document introduces two recurring issues for the CoE: the relevance of the cultural and educational dimensions of broadcasting, and the need to support public service broadcasting (PSB) as a fundamental vehicle for democracy, due to its direct impact on the formation of public opinion. As “guardian” of the values prescribed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the CoE was clearly committed to protecting media independence. Art. 10, in fact, asserts that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”. The fundamental right to freedom of expression is normatively (and ideally) associated with media, as they constitute a vehicle for shaping preferences, presenting diverse opinions and promoting public debate. Throughout the 1970s, broadcasting was debated by the European Community. The single European market project and the emergent ICT revolution paved the way for the launch of a supranational strategy in the media market. The developing policy discourse on media regulation was primarily framed by the ECJ through more than 50 decisions on the broadcasting and press media.1 All these rulings were crucial in opening the way for EU intervention because they conceived broadcasting as a matter of economic interest subject to competition policy. Moreover, in many cases the ECJ adopted a position firmly in favour of market liberalization, against the attempts of some national governments to restrict the provision of commercial media services since they were seen as a threat to the general interest and/or pluralism.2 The publication in 1983 of the Communication Realities and Tendencies in European Television: perspectives and options is illustrative of the Commission’s strategy towards development of a common media 1

For an overview of the main ECJ cases, see Harcourt (2005). See Case C-288/89, Stichting Collectieve Antennevoorziening Gouda and others v Commissariaat voor de Media, I-04007; Case C-353/89, Commission of the European Communities v Kingdom of the Netherlands, I-04069. 2


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policy and definition of a regulatory framework for new technologies (Harcourt, 2005). This document was followed by the TWF Green Paper (CEC, 1984), which explicitly framed EU broadcasting policy in the context of the single European market and called for rapid liberalization of the European media market. The EP replied to the Commission by requesting measures to protect media pluralism and cultural diversity from the risks of ownership concentration, which were already being experienced at national level in some member states such as Italy and the UK (EP, 1984; 1985). In spite of the EP’s concerns, the TWF directive (89/552/EEC) inaugurated the European policy in the media field. This landmark directive, framed within competition policy, was conceived as a single market initiative, and promoted the free flow of European television programmes through the harmonization of national legislation and the transmission of European productions. The directive also set obligations and rules for television advertising, sponsorship and teleshopping and also guaranteed protection of minors and human dignity. Media pluralism, however, was not mentioned. It could be said that the TWF directive pursued economic rather than political goals.

The Green Paper on Pluralism and the question of media ownership Since the beginning of the debate, the EP had conceived pluralism as both a cultural and an economic issue (EP, 1992; 1994a; 1995). The EP’s concerns about pluralism clearly stemmed from the evolution of national media markets, where concentration of media ownership was increasing. In the case of Italy, for instance, the EP clearly acted as a sounding board for national concerns related to Berlusconi’s “conflict of interest”, especially following his 1994 political campaign. The EP claimed that there was a need for communitarian regulation limiting the political and economic powers of some media owners at national level, which the Commission responded to by issuing the Green Paper on Pluralism and media concentration in the internal market–an assessment of the need for a communitarian action (CEC, 1992) in 1992. This paper discussed the possibility of regulatory intervention in the field of media ownership and concentration. Following its publication, the Commission launched a consultation process that included European institutions, member states and interested parties, aimed at identifying the main positions in possible Community action. In February 1993, DG III Industry sent a preliminary questionnaire to 16 European federations of interests, 15 companies, and 2 consultancy

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firms. The addressees on this obviously not exhaustive list, were mainly in the UK, Italy and Germany, evidence that the Commission, was trying to obtain support for this initiative by involving in the consultation actors that had been informally consulted before publication of the Green Paper (Harcourt, 2005). The Commission sent invitations to a few institutions and organizations to attend a hearing on 26 and 27 April 1993 to clarify positions and concepts. At the end of this consultation round, the Commission was in receipt of more than 70 written contributions–25 from European networks of interests and associations, and the remaining 45 from individual operators, national federations and private individuals.3 While most of the individual operators were from Germany, Italy and the UK, comments were also received from the Netherlands, France and Greece. There were no contributions forthcoming from operators in the member states. The results of the consultation did not satisfy the Commission, and the EP pursued a directive establishing an independent committee (a “European Media Council”). Member states did not take a particular stance, “not wanting, so it seems, to take up a position at this stage before knowing the results of the consultations with the interest concerned” (CEC, 1994a: 13). While a small group, representing the interests of editors and commercial television, declared their opposition to any EU action, most interested parties agreed about the need for a change to national rules on media ownership, to better cope with globalization and the diffusion of new technologies. However, there opinions diverged about what was the most suitable policy instrument to adopt, and about the desirability of EU rather than national regulation.4 Once the consultation was over, the Commission recognized that there was no agreement on the need for such an initiative, mainly because several participants saw a conflict between the goals of completing the Internal Market and safeguarding pluralism. Restrictions on media ownerships were perceived as a barrier to the development of a European media market. Thus, the Commission decided to launch a second round of consultation during the winter of 1994/1995, focusing on the type of policy instruments to be adopted. The Commission received 36 responses: 18 from companies, 13 from European federations and 5 from Member states and National Regulatory Agencies (Germany, UK, Sweden, 3 About 20 written contributions came from the television sector, 15 from the press, 6 from the radio, 8 from multimedia operators, 1 from the International Federation of Journalists and 4 from trades unions. 4 As revealed in the document “Some of them had the impression that the Commission was asking them to sign a ‘blank cheque’” (CEC, 1994a: 13).


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Luxembourg, Denmark). There was little participation from consumer associations, unions or academic institutions. In addition to the Green Paper, the Commission drafted a proposal for a directive on media ownership. Between 1992 and 1994, the media portfolio moved from DG III Industry to DG XV Internal Market, under the Italian Commissioner d’Archirafi. In 1994, d’Archirafi submitted a draft of the directive to the College of Commissioners, who rejected it. In 1995, d’Archirafi was replaced by Mario Monti, who declared himself in favour of protecting pluralism. At that time, consultations on the Green Paper on Pluralism were coming to an end, and revision of the 1989 TWF directive was launched under the co-decision procedure. The ratification took one year of negotiations between the EP, which presented 44 amendments on matters of public interest, and the CoE, which rejected all of them. In 1997, after conciliation, the directive was ratified without any of the EP amendments. A new draft of the directive on media ownership was submitted to the College of Commissioners in March 1997, but was rejected by President Santer as a result of strong lobbying from some media companies in Luxembourg who were against the initiative.

Media pluralism as a fundamental EU right? The question of media ownership re-emerged in the EU in 2000, as various developments worked to put media pluralism On the agenda again. These included among others: the spread of technological innovations in the communication and media markets; the consolidation of media “oligopolies” across Europe; the election of Berlusconi as Prime Minister of Italy;5the launch of the European Convention project to strengthen the democratic basis of the EU; and, above all, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union proclamation, which, in art. 11 on Freedom of expression and information, explicitly recognized that “everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”. The discussion on media pluralism was further promoted within the wider debate launched by the European Commission on the future of the EU and on its tasks in the context of the Convention and EU enlargement. In May 2003, the Commission published its Green Paper on Services of 5

In 2003 the MEP Johanna Boogerd-Quaak issued a report on Berlusconi’s conflict of interest and the related risks of violation of freedom of expression and information in Italy (EP, 2004).

The Debate on Media Pluralism in the European Union


General Interest (CEC, 2003a), aimed at debating the possibilities of Communitarian action ensuring the full application of competition and internal market rules, and endorsing good governance in the regulation of “services of general interest”. The Green Paper acknowledged the protection of media pluralism as a specific task of the Member States due to lack of specifically-aimed Community legislation. However, in light of recent technological development and the ongoing media concentration process, the Commission re-launched discussion on the role of the EU in that regard. In 2004, the Commission published a follow-up to the consultation on the Green Paper (CEC, 2004a). Various contributions highlighted the existence of a general consensus on the importance of protecting media pluralism. However, few consumer organizations favoured a European directive on media ownership and there was little support for the idea of Communitarian intervention in this field, because “it is argued that media markets are essentially national in nature and that the diversity of situations in the different Member States could best be addressed at national level” (CEC, 2004a: 22). German local authorities, France, publishers and commercial TV associations all demonstrated opposition to EU intervention. This disagreement on the desirability of Communitarian intervention led the Commission to reconsider its intention to submit an EU initiative on pluralism. Hence, in the White Paper on Services of General Interest, it was announced that this issue would be left to member states, while the Commission would “closely monitor the situation” (CEC 2004b: 19).

The modernization of audiovisual policy: does media pluralism really matter? The Commission and the EP re-opened the debate on media pluralism with the launch of the modernization of European audiovisual policy and the revision to the TWF directive (CEC, 2002b; 2003b). In the Resolution on the Television Without Frontiers Directive (EP, 2003), the EP asked the Commission and the Council to include in the fundamental principles underlying the directive. a commitment to protect cultural diversity in the media, to maintain freedom of expression, diversity of opinion and pluralism, to promote creativity and the right to free access to information. The EP also called on the Commission to incorporate in the revised directive a provision regarding diversity of media ownership. The EP returned to the issue of pluralism and concentration in 2005, stating that the concentration of media in Europe was hindering cultural diversity,


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because it was accentuating extreme commercialization of content and cultural hegemony (EP, 2005). As pluralism was “based on respect for and promotion of diversity of points of view in all the media” (EP, 2005: 7) competition was not adequate to protect pluralism. Consequently, the Resolution urged the Commission to draw up a Green Paper assessing the level of media concentration in Europe. The Commission responded to the EP during the review of the TWF directive, with a specific paper on media pluralism: Issue Paper no.6 Media Pluralism–What should be the European Union’s role? (CEC, 2005a). In addressing the possibility of stronger EU regulatory intervention, the Commission explicitly recalled the longstanding debate, which had begun in 1992 with the Green Paper on Pluralism, and was relaunched in 2003 in the Green Paper on Services of General Interests. The stakeholders consulted had been against Community action in both cases. According to the Commission, media pluralism could be developed, and could be guaranteed, within the existing European regulation on antitrust, mergers and takeovers, and electronic communications. More specifically, the Commission considered that concrete actions promoting media pluralism at EU level were included in the TWF directive.6 Also, according to the Commission, national PSB–publicly financed by member states–were another guarantee of media pluralism. And finally, that the regulatory package for electronic communications fostered media pluralism by protecting users’ interests and by limiting market power through access remedies. The Commission questioned the added value of further European action in this area, as media pluralism was already safeguarded through various measures taken towards resolving the difficulties involved in harmonizing existing national regulations and the disagreement member states had expressed towards any Community action in this field. Furthermore, the Commission underlined the role of the CoE in sustaining media pluralism. As the CoE had already proposed the necessary measures, in several recommendations, guidelines and codes of conduct, the Commission assigned to the CoE the task of monitoring media pluralism across Europe. There were very few contributions to IP 6 (only 48 direct contributions plus 5 that fell into the category “general comments”, out of nearly 500 papers submitted). The respondents were mainly Euro-networks of interests, firms and member states. Positions varied considerably, and media pluralism was often addressed only indirectly in the contributions. 6 Recital 44 allows member states to adopt restrictive measures to safeguard pluralism in the Information Society and media.

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Unions, professional organizations, consumer protection associations, representatives of communitarian and independent media, communication rights organizations and new media companies were more in favour of Community intervention. These organizations represented those parts of civil society that were particularly sensitive to the issue of pluralism, although often for different reasons. Some wanted better protection of internal pluralism, i.e. safeguarding of freedom of expression and information. Others were asking for European involvement to break down emergent oligopolies and remove the barriers to market entry. Most demanded the strong involvement of the EU through the publication of a Green Paper or a directive, and greater cooperation among the Commission, member states and the CoE. There was also a group that was in favour of “light” Community intervention in the field of media pluralism, and asked simply for better use of the existing rules in the field of media concentration and antitrust. A third group rejected any form of communitarian intervention and supported strong(er) national commitment with regard to media pluralism. Contributions opposed to supranational intervention came from member states, editors’ and broadcasters’ associations (public and private), media and telecommunications companies, i.e. all the actors benefiting from national regulation, for both political and economic reasons. On 13 December 2005, the legislative proposal for the revision of the TWF directive (CEC, 2005b) was adopted. There were no articles specifically devoted to pluralism (either internal or external). Media pluralism was (only) supposed to be promoted through the diffusion of various programmes across the Union, through compliance with art. 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (recital 9 and 26), through the application of national constitutional rules relating to freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the media (recital 9), under the safeguards and supervision of national regulatory authorities (recital 47). As it was subject to a co-decision procedure, the proposal was discussed by the Council on 18-19 May 2006 and on 13 November 2006 (Council of the European Union, 2006a, 2006b). The compromise reached by the Presidency among member states and endorsed by the Council was broadly in line with the Commission’s proposal. Once again, media pluralism was not mentioned in the text. Following the Council discussions, the proposal was passed to the EP. On 11 November 2006, MEP Ruth Hieronymi (European People’s Party/Christian Democrats and European Democrats) presented her report on behalf of the Committee on Culture and Education concerning the Proposal for Amending the TWF Directive (EP, 2006a). The report


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strongly underlined the relevance of media pluralism as a basic principle of the “European audiovisual model”, since media were both an economic and a cultural good. The report stated that audiovisual services played an important role in shaping public opinion and preserving democracy, justifying, therefore, “the application and enforcement of rules safeguarding, inter alia, fundamental rights and freedoms and the protection of vulnerable persons as defined at national, European and global level” (EP, 2006a: 7). During the debate, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs proposed a new article (23c) calling for member states to adopt measures protecting internal and external pluralism, safeguarding the neutrality of information provided by public authorities, and preventing governments from influencing media communications and information. Moreover, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy added two points to the proposed article, one aimed at balancing exercise of the right to information with protection of privacy and human dignity, and the other specifically prohibiting “holders of government office, their spouses or first or second degree relatives, as well as companies controlled by them, from taking up or maintaining positions of control in businesses operating in the radio and television market and related markets”. The allusion to media tycoons seems to be quite clear in this case. On 13 December 2006, Hieronymi’s report was adopted. Amendments concerning media pluralism were numerous. The EP put strong emphasis on the safeguarding of internal pluralism at EU and national levels, and called for the regulation of external pluralism at national level. The final report included a toned down version of art. 23c, which stated that member states should adopt the necessary measures guaranteeing pluralism of information in the television broadcasting system in accordance with the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EP, 2006b). The new Audiovisual Media Service Directive was approved at the end of November 2007. Nearly all the provisions related to media pluralism added by the EP were rejected by the Commission, or considerably toned down.7 Amendment 31 obliging Member States to prevent dominant positions was removed, together with the entire new article 23. The directive refers to media pluralism as a fundamental principle of the EU, guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and promoted through 7

In Recital 6, for instance, “The need for media pluralism” became “the importance of media pluralism”, and in Recital 47(a), cultural diversity, freedom of expression and media pluralism from “indispensable preconditions for democracy and diversity” became simply “preconditions”.

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the diversity of news productions and programming by member states (art. 38), but not regulated by the EU.

Issues, actors and emerging coalitions The debate on media pluralism emerged in the EU in the late 1970s, after the first ECJ rulings in the media sector affirming that broadcasting was an economic issue subject to EU competition law. The EP reacted to the ECJ’s decisions by launching a debate on media market regulation. The EP took a clear position against concentrations in the broadcasting market–in line with concerns already expressed by the CoE–and vigorously called on the Commission to safeguard freedom of expression and media pluralism through European law. The Commission adopted a twofold strategy in its framing of the media pluralism discourse. On the one side, it tried to expand its competence in the media sector and tried to include it under the umbrella of the single European market, seizing the opportunity created by the ECJ intervention. National broadcasting was conceived as a strategic policy area for the completion of the single European communication market. During the 1990s, the Commission successfully launched the integration of the telecommunication sector via the definition of a common regulatory framework aimed at harmonizing national legislation and promoting the creation of a European competitive market (Nesti, 2005). In the audiovisual sector, however, fragmentation and diversity in national legislation concerning concentration of ownership persisted, creating barriers to the full deployment of the Internal Market. A Community action on external pluralism, therefore, was perceived as being necessary to fully complete regional economic integration. But the Commission was also very sensitive to the internal side of pluralism because it provided an opportunity for it to expand its regulatory competence from the market to politics. Every attempt to push forward an agenda that included political issues, however, was unsuccessful. This was mainly due to the fact that media pluralism was highly controversial. For example, restrictions on media concentration would directly hinder the creation of strong competitors to US media companies (the so called “media giants”). At the same time, protection of internal pluralism jarred the sensitivities of domestic political interests. It is not surprising that both member states and business interests were opposed to any intervention in this field, as was clearly demonstrated by the results of the various consultations related to media pluralism that were held over the years.


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At least 113 civil society organizations participated in the various consultations on media pluralism. Ninety-six of them submitted papers at only one event. Eleven organizations–the broadcasting networks ARDZDF and BBC, the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU), the Commission des Episcopats de la Communauté Européenne (COMECE), Eurocinema, the European region of the media, entertainment and arts sector of Union Network International (EURO-MEI UNI), the European Publishers Council (EPC), the Federation Intemationale des Associations de Distributeurs (FIAD), the French Republic, the Dutch Kingdom, and the Verband Privater Rundfunk und Telekommunikation–submitted two papers. The Association of Commercial Televisions (ACT), the Bureau européen des Unions de Consommateurs (BEUC), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU/UER), the European Federation of Journalist (EFJ), and Mediaset, took part in three consultations on media pluralism. Only the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) participated in all the consultations launched over the 15 year period from 1992 to 2007. Positions on possible Community intervention in media pluralism were relatively balanced between those in favour of community intervention and those that opposed it. Organizations supporting EU intervention ranged from media rights activists, religious groups, independent broadcasters, consumer associations, trades unions, professional organizations (including AMARC Europe, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Community Media Forum Europe, COMECE, BEUC, Altroconsumo, Voice of the Listener and Viewer, BECTU, EURO-MEI UNI, and the EFJ), new services and internet providers (AFA, Fastweb, BITKOM, Versatel), to one member state (the Netherlands). This first coalition, also close to the position held by the EP and the CoE, reassembled the actors interested in safeguarding media pluralism for political and cultural reasons–understanding internal pluralism as a fundamental civil right–and also economic interests–as external pluralism would allow for entry into the market of new players. Within this group were national PSB and their Euro-federations (such as Channel 4, BBC, ARD-ZDF, EBU-UER and CEEP-European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest). Their attitude towards EU intervention safeguarding media pluralism, however, varied over time. They were especially strongly in favour of EU regulation of media ownership in the early 1990s, probably because emerging concentrations in the private sector were challenging them. In the following years, however, the total or partial privatization of most PSB channels dramatically changed the scenario, and a more cautious approach

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was adopted. For example, the BBC expressed support for a “soft” European regulation of MP in the final consultation. Opposed to community intervention were mainly member states (France, Belgium, UK, Hungary), single firms (Mediaset, RTV, Time Warner, VESTRA), federations of media and telecommunication companies, and organizations representing publishers and commercial television companies (e.g. ACT, EPC, ENPA, FIAD, Viestinnän Keskusliitto-The Federation of the Finnish Media Industry). This second coalition considered that national legislation and market rules were sufficient to prevent concentrations and to promote pluralism and, consequently, strongly opposed any interference in domestic politics and the economy.

Conclusions The debate on media pluralism has had alternating fortunes, leading to the failure of every attempt to regulate it at EU level. Two “loose” opposing coalitions emerged during the debate on media pluralism, one gathering civil society associations, the EP and the CoE, the other comprising member states, private companies and publishers. Between them stood the Commission in a gate-keeping role. The above analysis shows that the Commission tried to pave the way to EU regulation on media pluralism, but adopted a “wait-and-see” strategy aimed at organizing a “winning” coalition to circumvent the limitations in the EU Treaties. While a public debate on media pluralism was launched to gather opinions from relevant institutional and non-governmental actors, the EU directive on media ownership had to be negotiated within the College of Commissioners. The lack of clear-cut support for the initiative in both arenas led the Commission to reject this directive. A major threat to EU intervention came from the institutional realm, which exploited the range of actions available to government actors and limited access of non-governmental actors to the policy arena. Civil society organizations, involved by the Commission through the mechanism of consultation, played a significant role in the policy debate on media pluralism. Since the publication of the White Paper on European Governance (CEC, 2001), consultations between the Commission and civil society have become a regular mechanism both to support EU policy formulation and to improve effective implementation. Consultations, therefore, represent an important vehicle for non-governmental actors to participate in policy-making, and their adoption has given many groups the opportunity to voice their concerns within the policy process.


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Nevertheless, if we look at the consultations related to media pluralism, there are some counter-evident elements. The number of nongovernmental participants in these events decreased considerably over the years: 76 participants in 1992, but only 48 in the 2005 TWF revision. In 1992, national broadcasters, professional organizations, trades unions, and individual firms were interested in media pluralism. In 2005, while there were fewer Euro-networks representing media professionals and single media companies, the number of respondents from national governments and agencies and consumer associations had increased considerably. It is interesting that through the debate the most under-represented actors were the media activists. There were only three organizations that participated in the different consultations related to media pluralism: AMARC in 1992 and Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom and Community Media Forum Europe in 2005. Further empirical research is needed to assess the reasons for this, but some preliminary hypotheses could be advanced. Firstly, the issue of media pluralism is probably not perceived as relevant at supranational level. Civil society associations are more engaged at home than in Brussels because they consider media pluralism, essentially, to be a matter for domestic regulation. Secondly, low level of engagement of activists might be due to the structure of political opportunities at EU level. The mechanism for consultation, for instance, is explicitly tailored to a specific conception of civil society: “There is no commonly accepted or legal definition of the term ‘civil society organisation’. [...] It should be noted that in its policy of consultation the Commission does not make a distinction between civil society organisations or other forms of interest groups. The Commission consults ‘interested parties’, which comprises all those who wish to participate in consultations run by the Commission”8

This approach clearly reveals a positive attitude toward interest groups, which historically are more able to offer technical reliable information to solve policy problems than public interest organizations (Mazey and Richardson, 2001; Ruzza, 2002). This probably applied to the case of media pluralism, where the coalition in favour of EU intervention did not succeed in producing a consistent position on how to regulate this issue. The failure of the 1990s’ attempts to regulate media ownership and the deadlock in the debate on media pluralism negatively influenced successive events, hindering policy-change. This could explain the warm response of the Commission to the EP’s call for renewed support for 8

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strong Community action regarding media pluralism, which resurfaced in the support of the Commissioner of DG Information Society and Media in 2008 for action to be taken in this area. This was reinforced recently by Viviane Reding, the current Commissioner of the DG Information Society and Media. In a speech held at the Opening of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association Congress in Luxembourg, she recalled that media pluralism and media freedom are basic democratic principles of the EU. She also declared her opposition to over-regulation in the media sector, and her preference for a soft law approach. In spite of the fact that she recognized certain disparities amongst member states regarding media concentration laws, she admitted that “at this stage, there is simply no ‘one size fits all’ formula for the prevention of media concentration throughout all Member States” (Reding, 2004: 6), while there are some mechanisms available to foster media pluralism in the EU, such as competition policy (especially by preventing the abuse of dominant positions and by ensuring market access for new entrants). A fundamental part of her strategy is represented by the new approach in the relationship between the DG and media companies. This implies new partnerships and coordination through consultation, and proposal of ideas and initiatives “which could help the media to become more competitive and make full use of the opportunities offered by the single market” (Reding, 2004: 14). The process of modernization of the TWF directive and the debate on media pluralism clearly followed this approach. The licensed text of the new Audiovisual Draft Directive is very limited in scope and domain, since it does not tackle any sensitive issues related to internal and external pluralism. On the contrary, it is focused mainly on new advertising rules, and clearly framed–once again–in the context of competition policy. Moreover, although the Commission has shown a degree of interest in media pluralism, it appears to be merely symbolic. There is no commitment to the definition of common European rules protecting pluralism and regulating concentration, apart from the promise to monitor closely the situation across member states through the adoption of common standards, following the work already done by the CoE. The debate on media pluralism clearly shows that the agenda-setting process at EU level can be very controversial–particularly when the issues at stake concern cultural and political aspects at the domestic level, and when there is no clear reference for action in the Treaties and negotiations have to take place among institutions and relevant stakeholders to enable Commission intervention. In the case examined in this chapter, institutional constraints limiting the ability of actors to frame a consistent


Chapter Seven

policy discourse and to build a strong supportive coalition prevented the emergence of supranational legislation on media pluralism.

References Bulmer, S. (1998) “New institutionalism and the governance of the Single European Market”, Journal of European Public Policy, 5(3): 365-386. Commission of the European Communities (1984) Green Paper Television Without Frontiers, COM (83) final. —. (1992) Green Paper on Pluralism and media concentration in the internal market–an assessment of the need for a communitarian action, COM (92) 480. —. (1994) Follow-Up To The Consultation Process Relating To The Green Paper On "Pluralism And Media Concentration In The Internal Market–An Assessment Of The Need For Community Action”, COM (94) 353 final. —. (2002) Fourth Report From The Commission To The Council, The European Parliament, The European Economic And Social Committee And The Committee Of The Regions on the application of directive 89/552/EEC “Television without Frontiers”, COM (2002) 778. —. (2003a) Green Paper on Service of General Interests, COM (2003) 270. —. (2003b) Communication The future of European regulatory audiovisual policy, COM (2003) 784. —. (2004a) Report On The Public Consultation On The Green Paper On Services Of General Interest, Commission Staff Working Paper, SEC (2004) 326. —. (2004b) White Paper on Services of general interest, COM (2004) 374. —. (2005a) Media Pluralism–What should be the European Union’s role?, Issue Paper 6 for the Liverpool Audiovisual Conference. —. (2005b) Proposal for a Directive Of The European Parliament And Of The Council Amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, COM (2005) 646. Coen, D. (1998) “European Business Interest and the Nation State: Largefirm Lobbying in the European Union and Member States”, Journal of Public Policy, 18(1): 75-100. Council of the European Union (2006a) Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive

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89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative Action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (Television without frontiers), 14464/06. —. (2006b) Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative Action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities (Television without frontiers), 14616/06. European Parliament (1984) Resolution on report on radio and television broadcasting in the European Community. —. (1985) Resolution on the economic aspects of the common market for broadcasting, A2-102/85. —. (1992) Resolution on media concentration and diversity of opinions, A3-0153/92/corr. —. (1994) Resolution on concentration of the media and pluralism, B40262, 0263, 0283, 0285 and 0295/94. —. (1995) Resolution on pluralism and media concentration, B4-0884. —. (2004) Report on the risks of violation, in the EU and especially in Italy, of freedom of expression and information (Article 11(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights) (2003/2237), Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, A5-0230/2004. —. (2005) Resolution on the application of Articles 4 and 5 of Directive 89/552/EEC (“Television without Frontiers”), as amended by Directive 97/36/EC, for the period 2001_2002, A6-0202/2005. —. (2006a) Report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities COM (2005) 0646, C60443/2005-2005/0260 (COD), Committee on Culture and Education A6-0399/2006. —. (2006b) European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities COM (2005) 0646, C6-0443/20052005/0260(COD), P6_TA-PROV(2006)0559.


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Hall, P. and R. Taylor (1996) “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms”, Political Studies, XLIV: 936-957. Harcourt, A. (2005) The European Union and the Regulation of Media Markets. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Marks, G. (1992) “Structural Policy in the European Community” pp. 191224 in A. Sbragia (ed.) Euro-Politics: Institutions and Policy-Making in the ‘New’ European Community. Washington: Brookings. Mazey, S. and J. Richardson (2001) “Interests groups and the EU policymaking: organisational logic and venue shopping” pp. 217-237 in J. Richardson (ed.), European Union: Power and policy-making. London: Routledge. Nesti, G. (2005) La Società dell’Informazione in Europa: attori, interessi e relazioni nel policy-making dell’UE. Padova: Cleup. Reding, V. (2007) “The importance of freedom of expression for democratic societies in the enlarged European Union”, Press conference on the occasion of the conclusion of a Framework Agreement between the International Federation of Journalists and WAZ Mediengruppe, Brussels, 9 July, SPEECH/07/478. —. (2004) “The European Commission and media industry: The need for a new partnership”, speech held at the Opening of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association Congress, Luxembourg, November 5. Ruzza, C. (2002) “I gruppi di interesse nell’UE” pp. 277-297 in Fabbrini, S. (ed.), L’Unione Europea. Le istituzioni e gli attori di un sistema sovranazionale. Bari: Laterza. Richardson, J. (2001), “Policy-making in the EU: interests, ideas and garbage cans of primeval soup” pp. 3-27 in J. Richardson (ed.), European Union: Power and policy-making. London: Routledge. Streeck, W. and P.C. Schmitter (1991) “From National Corporatism to Trans-national Pluralism: Organized Interests in the Single European Market”, Politics and Society, 19(2): 133-164.

Legislation Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, OJ L 298, 17 October 1989. Directive 97/36/EC amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or

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administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, OJ L 102, 30 July 1997. Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, OJ L 108, 24 April 2002. Directive 2007/65/EC amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, OJ L 332, 18 December 2007.


Introduction The impact of state aid policy on member states’ public broadcasters has become extremely visible in recent years. In May 2004 TV2/Danmark, the second biggest Danish public broadcaster, had to pay back €84.5 million of government support to the Danish government. In late June 2006, the European Commission concluded that the Dutch public broadcaster, NOS, had been over-compensated between 1994 and 2005. As a consequence, NOS had to reimburse €76.3 million to the Dutch government. In 2007 and 2008 contested decisions on the funding of the German ARD and ZDF, the Flemish VRT and the Irish RTE were issued. The more active stance adopted by the Commission with regard to public broadcasting and state aid is perceived by some as a threat to public service broadcasting. For others, it is an expression of the economic reality in which public broadcasters and commercial undertakings operate in an integrated European single market. Although the Commission has emphasized that public broadcasting is vital for European democratic societies, the recent decisions by the Commission are proof that it is also interested in fair competition in the media market. It would seem that, from both an ideological and a regulatory viewpoint, state aid can no longer taken for granted as being an essential tool of media policy. Markets, competition and the construction of a level playing field in the media sector have been shown to be equally important. This is not to

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


imply that the Commission applies state aid rules in an overly rigorous way when they concern the financing of public service broadcasting. Two research questions underlie this chapter. Firstly, we assess why– and how–the Community’s state aid rules apply to the funding of public broadcasting organizations. Secondly, we analyse how the Commission applies the legal framework in its analysis of specific state aid schemes for public broadcasting. The overall aim of the chapter is to assess whether an empirical analysis of Commission policy sustains a negative evaluation of this policy. Is the Commission’s application of the state aid rules aggressive and liberal in nature thus a threat to public broadcasting or is it rather positive and flexible? In the first part of this chapter the most relevant state aid rules and policy documents with regard to public broadcasting are analysed. This analysis is framed within the level playing field perspective, which underlies European market integration project, on public broadcasting. In the second part, the implementation of existing rules is assessed. This analysis, grounded in the interpretation of Commission decisions, is not a legal analysis per se, but covers a dynamic examination of the various issues that emerge in the analysis of public broadcasting state aid cases. Our analysis is structured around three key aspects in European Commission state aid cases: the definition of the public service remit, control, and proportionality. To conclude the chapter, we return to our main research questions and try to nuance the existing view of state aid policy as presenting a threat to the future funding of public broadcasting organizations.

Public broadcasting and state aid: a market oriented approach? Before the 1980s there was no European, Belgian, French or German broadcasting market. Most European Union (EU) member states were convinced that the broadcasting sector was a so-called natural monopoly (Hoskins et al., 2004). Spectrum scarcity, very high infrastructural costs and the impact of the broadcasting medium on society seemed to confirm this. Technological progress, however, has neutralized the spectrum scarcity element (Armstrong and Weeds, 2005; Van Dijk et al., 2006), and the almost simultaneous bankruptcy of the welfare state has undermined the ideological basis of state aid for public services. Liberalization and privatization has resulted in what is known as “hybrid media environments” in which media policy and funding of public broadcasters remains substantial, but is increasingly under pressure from market


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oriented horizontal and multi-level regulatory frameworks. The current discussions about the scope of public broadcasters’ activities in a digital age illustrates the tension between the public service and the economic– although not mutually excludable–objectives of media policy. Hybrid media environments intrinsically challenge the expansion of the public broadcasting remit. European policy in this regard is most notably inspired by a level playing field perspective on public service broadcasting, following which an expansion of the public broadcasters’ activities to new media environments might be valid, but certainly not unlimited. In economic theory a “level playing field” is defined as an environment in which all companies in a given sector of the market economy must be able to compete on the same (equal) grounds, encompassing e.g., laws, competition policy and ownership regulation. The state aid regime has been developed to counter distortions of an assumed level playing field in the media sector, and explicitly prohibits the transfer of state resources that will have an adverse effect on competition and trade between member states. Thus, the application of state aid rules to the financing of public broadcasting demonstrates that public broadcasters are market competitors. To some extent, this is a reflection of the market reality, as is shown by the large market shares held by most Western European public broadcasting organizations. Within a EU context, and seen from a level playing field perspective, a distortion of the market is legitimate only when it meets objectives greater than the goal of market integration, and is based upon an objective observation of market failure (Van Dijk et al., 2006; Davies et al., 1999). In a digital arena, it is often assumed that most causes of market failure disappear. The debate on the future remit of public broadcasting is thus situated in a traditional field of tension for media policy: between market-oriented policy on the one hand and public service policy on the other. It is within this tension that we should situate state aid rules when applied to the funding of public broadcasting organizations.

The state aid framework: legal constraints and margins The Treaty of the European Communities (EC) art. 87(1), explicitly prohibits the use of state aid by government authorities. However, and in spite of this general objection against the use of state aid, the funding of some activities (e.g., public broadcasting) can be deemed compatible with the provisions of the Treaty on the basis of art. 86(2) of the Treaty. The consideration of public broadcasting services as “services of general economic interest” legitimizes the continuation of public funding. The

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


Treaty does not define these “services of general economic interest” and their definition is not clear (Nicolaides et al., 2005). However, secondary legislation suggests that they should combine an economic aspect with universal distribution of such services (Knaul and Pérez Flores, 2007). Individual member states can adopt their own definitions of these services (Santa María, 2007), which enables them to take advantage of the special status ascribed to them in the Treaty (art. 86(2) EC). This special status, however, does not prevent the application of state aid rules to public service broadcasting. Since the liberalization of the broadcasting market in 1989 (through the Television without Frontiers Directive) broadcasting activities have become economic in nature, justifying the application of the state aid rules. We would refer here to the important markets of sports and programming rights. Once the market driven nature of the broadcasting sector became clear (Scharf and Orssich Slavetich, 2006), state aid rules gained importance with regard to the broadcasting and entertainment industry at large.1 In state aid procedures the Commission must first determine whether there is an instance of state aid within the meaning of the Treaty. If there is, the Commission then analyses whether observed state aid is compatible with some of the exceptions provided for in the Treaty. There are three criteria that qualify aid as state aid: there must be a transfer of state resources; there must be selective advantage, and there must be potentially harmful effect on competition in and trade between member states (Crocioni, 2006). The funding of public broadcasters in general is considered to be state aid. While government grants to public broadcasters like VRT or NOS constitute an obvious transfer of state resources, licence fee funding of broadcasters such as the UK BBC is also state aid, since collection of the fee is enforced by government, which ensures an income for the public broadcasting organization. Secondly, public broadcasters competing for audiences in the same markets as their competitors do receive government funding while private undertakings do not, which generates a selective advantage. Third, since public broadcasters compete for audience shares, advertising revenues and programming rights, there is a real risk that government funding will distort competition and trade (Bavasso, 2006).


Since the 1990s and the conclusion of the Maastricht Treaty (1992) the Directorate General for Competition has increased its activities in the field of state aid control (Hansen et al., 2004; Quigley and Collins, 2003) and the public sector has been included in this evolution (Szyszczak, 2004).


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The margins of the Treaty: the Broadcasting Communication and the Amsterdam Protocol There are some exceptions to the general ban on state aid which allow governments to continue to fund their public broadcasters. It is on the basis of these exceptions that the Commission assesses whether certain state aid is compatible or in line with the Treaty. The existence of exception clauses, such as art. 86(2) EC and art. 87(3)(d) EC, increases the traditional tension between a market-oriented and a public service approach to media policy; it also exacerbates the pressures on aspects of European integration and the importance of public broadcasting to member states. art. 87(3)d EC–known as the “cultural exception” (Donders et al., 2008)–favours pure cultural exceptions,2 but is not invoked in current state aid procedures related to public service broadcasting and is therefore not discussed here.

Art. 86(2) EC and the Broadcasting Communication Given the insignificance of art. 87(3)d EC for the assessment of improper state aid to public broadcasting organizations, the Commission’s control of state aid is largely–if not entirely–based on art. 86(2) EC. This article acknowledges the importance of services of general economic interest for the EC. The funding of these services is compatible with the Treaty if they do not constitute too great a barrier to competition in the internal market. Measures that fulfil three particular conditions fall within this exception clause: first, the recipient of the aid must be explicitly entrusted with the delivery of services of general economic interest; second, the aid must be necessary in order to achieve certain public policy objectives; third, the aid must be proportional to its objectives. Nevertheless, there is a latent contradiction between national state aid objectives and the overall goals of Community policy. Art. 86(2) EC recognizes this tension and the controversies over the interpretation of Community law with regard to services of general economic interest. The balancing act lies in the application of art. 86(2) EC. The Broadcasting Communication (2001) further specifies what the three abovementioned criteria entail for the funding of public service 2

Article 87(3) EC concerns a cultural exception. It frequently cannot be invoked for public broadcasting since the funding of public broadcasting organizations is framed within a broader social, democratic and cultural policy framework and, as a consequence, is not solely targeted at cultural policy objectives.

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broadcasting and identifies how support for public broadcasting organizations can be compatible with the internal market project. Firstly, the remit and the mandate of the public broadcaster should be clearly defined. This norm is quite flexible since it supports the subsidiarity principle by emphasizing the autonomy of member states with regard to the definition and organization of public broadcasters. The Commission can only verify whether or not there is a so-called “manifest error” in the member states’ definitions (Hobbelen et al., 2007). This applies not only to public broadcasters, but also to all services of general economic interest. The concept of “manifest error” implies that the European Commission can only challenge the public service definition of a public broadcaster when member states are clearly funding commercial and not public services. For example, in the case of e-commerce, it could be claimed that there is no service of general economic interest and that, as a consequence, the funding of e-commerce activities would constitute a manifest error. Subsequently the aid scrutinized would be incompatible state aid. Now that public broadcasting organizations are engaging in digital services, the definition of a manifest error becomes increasingly difficult and risky since every definition of a manifest error would impinge on the definitional freedom of member states (entrusted to them by the Broadcasting Communication) with regard to the remit of public broadcasters in a digital era. In spite of the insecure competence division between member states and the European Commission, defining what constitutes a manifest error, is necessary for the Commission to execute its state aid control. Secondly, there is the question of entrustment of the remit and control of public broadcasters’ activities. The remit of public broadcasting organizations should be explicitly entrusted to them by an official document or act. Clear and precise entrustment is a necessary condition for the objective monitoring and control of public broadcasters’ activities (Coppieters, 2003). This condition is straightforward; most countries have explicit acts or laws setting out public broadcasters’ public service objectives. Also, most (in some cases all) public broadcasters’ activities are controlled on the basis of certain indicators (e.g., audience reach). However, problems may arise if the Commission’s demand for control interferes with the independence of the public broadcaster from political influence. Thirdly, in terms of proportionality, the funding of public broadcasters can only offset these costs incurred when performing the public service obligations entrusted to them. In essence, the Commission determines whether there has been over-compensation for the public service task,


Chapter Eight

which assumes a high degree of transparency in public broadcasters’ financial records (Hobbelen et al., 2007).3 Proportionality also implies that the Commission analyses to what extent public support for public broadcasting organizations exceeds (or fails to meet) the actual cost of the public service provision. State aid should not exceed the “net cost” of public service provision (Coppieters, 2003). Calculation of proportionality is not straightforward (Bavasso, 2006) and requires data on public broadcasters which not all member states make available. Cases of overcompensation can have far-reaching consequences: in some cases, the Commission will demand reimbursement of funding. Thus, its assessment can have a significant and real impact on the financial situations of the public broadcasters.

The Amsterdam Protocol In addition to art. 87(3)d EC, art. 86(2) EC and the Broadcasting Communication, there is also the Amsterdam Protocol, which acknowledges the specific and legitimate character of state aid for public broadcasting organizations stating that: “The provision of the Treaty establishing the European Community shall without prejudice to the competence of the Member States to provide for the funding of public service broadcasting in so far as such funding is granted by broadcasting organisations for the fulfilment of the public service remit as conferred, defined and organised by each Member State, and in so far as such funding does not affect trading conditions and competition in the Community to an extent which would be contrary to the Common interest, while the realisation of that public service shall be taken into account” (European Communities, 1997)

Opinion as to the importance of the Amsterdam Protocol differs significantly. Some see it as a strong political signal of a firm political commitment towards public broadcasting organizations; others see it as an instrument with no legal consequences (Nihoul, 1998; Nitsche, 2001). Despite its somewhat vague wording and its–perhaps–judicial weakness, the importance of the Protocol should not be underestimated. Its value is demonstrated firstly, by the fact that it reflects the growing concerns of member states over the direction in media policy, resulting 3

Public broadcasters’ accounts are often not at all transparent, which makes analysis of the proportionality of funding schemes very difficult and, thus, sometimes not very solid.

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


from European State aid policy pressures (Duff, 1997). Certain member states (Belgium and France in particular), various lobby groups (e.g. the European Broadcasting Union) and the European Parliament have argued for the inclusion of the Protocol in the Amsterdam Treaty (Duff, 1997; Héritier, 2001). In this sense, the Protocol is a political commitment to a “European-style” concept of public broadcasting (Humphreys, 2003), which attempts to accommodate the inherent difficulties that accompany the setting of limits to state intervention (Buendía Sierra, 2006). When Belgian Prime Minister Dehaene and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl successfully sought to implement the Protocol in the Amsterdam Treaty, they created a certain political momentum favouring public broadcasting. Secondly, the Protocol provides for exceptional status for public broadcasting in the Treaty of the European Communities (to which the Amsterdam Treaty is annexed). It is exceptional since it attributes special status to a particular institution, i.e. public broadcasting. There are no other examples of such special status being granted. There are other areas of special attention in the Treaty, such as the exception clause for culture (art. 151 EC) and the special reference to the environment (art. 174). However, none of these have the same status as the Amsterdam Protocol, nor do they “protect” a specific subject. Thus, even taking account of the criticisms levelled at the Amsterdam Protocol, as a representative of one well known public broadcaster said: “It can’t get much better than this!”. Indeed, public broadcasting organizations and some member states were keen to have a stronger protection of public service broadcasting in the EC Treaty. The current Protocol acknowledges the importance of public broadcasting while at the same time upholding the strong position of competition law in the EC. As such, the Protocol represents the optimum political consensus, taking the interests of all stakeholders into account. The Amsterdam Protocol and other Treaty articles such as art. 86(2) EC, exemplify the tension between the European market integration project and national public policy objectives. However, the EC Treaty has created a near “natural” tendency toward a level-playing-field perspective, although numerous balancing exercises have to some extent moderated the market integration project and hence the level-playing-field approaches.

Application of the rules: challenging the remit, control and financing of public broadcasters? From our analysis of EC rules, we can identify three elements relevant to our research questions. Firstly, it can be said that the Community rules provide for a regulatory framework in which a more flexible stance with


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regard to public broadcasting organizations and their remit is possible. The conditions under which state aid for public service broadcasting is compatible with the EC Treaty are considered from the dominant level playing field perspective in public policy. As a consequence, we can expect a more liberal stance from the European Commission since the Commission is entitled to defend and execute Community policy, which mainly deals with the project of market integration. Secondly, counterbalancing efforts with regard to public service broadcasting are emerging, raising expectation that the Commission should (and does) take into account non-economic aspects in judgements related to state aid and public broadcasting. Thirdly, application of the state aid framework to the funding of public broadcasting organizations will probably be a complex exercise due to both political sensitivities and the high visibility of these cases. The Commission’s task to control the funding of public broadcasters will be complicated by the presence of vague concepts, e.g. proportionality, services of general economic interest, manifest error, and ambiguous rules. It is important to note that control of the public broadcasters themselves is not the Commission’s task, although it is often perceived as such. Rather, the Commission’s responsibility is to monitor the relationships between the member states and their public broadcasters; its duty is thus to control governments rather than the public broadcasting organizations. In order to ascertain whether or not the Commission’s application of the legal framework is having a negative impact on the remit, control and financing of public broadcasting organizations and threatening public service broadcasting, we analyse a selection of some recent Commission decisions, including the Commission decisions concerning the funding of the German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF (14 April 2007) and the Flemish public broadcaster VRT (27 February 2008). These decisions are relevant since they represent the current interpretation of Community law by the Commission. We also introduce into the analysis other decisions concerning the funding of public broadcasters in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, etc. The findings are based on an analysis of Commission decisions and interviews conducted with EU officials and experts in the field of media policy. The case study in this chapter is in three parts addressing the issues of definition, entrustment and control, and proportionality, i.e. the three criteria of the Broadcasting Communication (see above).

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


To define or not to define The Broadcasting Communication is somewhat ambiguous with regard to the specificity in the definition of the remit that is required. §33 of the Communication states that “a wide definition may be considered legitimate”, while §37 states that “the definition should be as precise as possible”. With the expansion of public broadcasters’ activities to new media markets, this vagueness has given rise to substantial interpretation problems. The Commission is afraid that member states might abuse the flexible Treaty provisions and the Amsterdam Protocol in order to fund public broadcasting services that go beyond the remit of the public broadcasting organizations (“mission creep”) (Kroes, 2006). As a consequence, although hesitant about acting against member states’ autonomy in defining the remit of public broadcasters, the Commission has been more actively questioning definitions of this remit. The Commission has so far adopted three approaches towards this issue of definition. The first starts from the concept of “closely associated”. In the BBC Digital Curriculum case, in which the Commission assessed the funding of the BBC’s online educational services, it was alleged that the remit concerned only these services that were closely associated with, and therefore limited to, radio and television programming (European Commission, 2003). There are two comments that can be made with regard to this approach. Firstly, it infringes member states’ competences to define what are services of general economic interest, since it implies that services that are not closely associated with radio and television broadcasting cannot be part of the remit and subsequently cannot be regarded as a public broadcasting service (which is a service of general economic interest). Secondly, it is not clear whether this approach is technology neutral. This tendency could run against the overall philosophy of the Commission’s Information Society policy which stresses that regulation should become technology neutral, i.e. regulation should not depend on specific platforms or technologies, given the fast developments in the media sector (Reding, 2006). However, the concept “closely associated” implies a difference on the basis of technology: while radio and television services are at the core of the remit, other services are situated within–or even outside–the margins of the remit, depending on how “closely associated” they are with the core. The imperfections of the BBC Digital Curriculum decision were taken to heart by the European Commission and a slightly different approach


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was adopted in the Commission’s decision on German licence fee funding of ARD and ZDF. The definition of the remit, according to this decision, was too vague, particularly in the case of new media services. The delivery of these services cannot be justified on the basis of imprecise cultural, educational and democratic objectives. In order to avoid a confusion between commercial and public services, there is a need for clearer circumscription of the remit. The Commission clarified that: “it remains unclear what is the public service value of these channels in addition to the already existing channels” (European Commission, 2007: §227). It is debateable whether this demand for “added public value” for new media services, in this case new thematic channels, is technology neutral and, in addition, can be seen as legitimately falling within the scope of the Broadcasting Communication. That the Commission was insisting on a clearer definition of the remit in a more complicated digital era is justified by its mandate to check for manifest error. The idea behind this more active approach toward the issue of definition is that not everything can be swept under the carpet of democracy, social cohesion, universal service delivery, cultural diversity, etc. In addition, taking into account the legal importance and the possible impact of the use of notions such as “programme”, a thorough rethinking of concepts is not only necessary for the European Commission, but unavoidable for the public broadcasters and their member states. In the decision on the Flemish public broadcaster VRT the Commission modified its approach even further. It emphasized the competences of member states with regard to the definition and the acceptability of a wide definition of the remit (European Commission, 2008). However, it stated that the Flemish authorities should ensure that the remit was determined by government rather than VRT. The Commission maintained that currently it is difficult to judge which new services are part of the remit as defined by the Flemish government and that there is a lack of transparency about what VRT is doing, and a high level of uncertainty for other players in the market (European Commission, 2008). The Commission explained further that: “The Commission does not contest the participation of public broadcasters in new technological developments, nor does it argue against their distribution of television and radio content over different platforms. Yet, the Commission upholds that the possibility to use new platforms does not automatically mean that all services offered by public broadcasters over new platforms are necessarily public broadcasting services. New platforms offer numerous opportunities to distribute services that differ considerably from the traditional remit of public broadcasters and television programming

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


traditionally offered by them. The relevance of these services for the democratic, social and cultural needs of society is not always clear” (European Commission 2008: §181, emphasis added)

Hence, evaluation of the definition criterion, as identified in the Broadcasting Communication, can be captured in the single question: is there a mechanism, imposed by member states preventing public broadcasters from freewheeling in new media markets? In other words, are governments ensuring that public broadcasting organizations are active only in those markets where they are required to be so, or do they maintain a hands-off approach vis-à-vis public broadcasting organizations (and allow (again) everything to be swept under the carpet of democracy, social cohesion, universal service delivery, cultural diversity, etc.)? Even though this approach is still not completely technology neutral, it is more in line with state aid rules, which try to guarantee that the funding behaviour of EU member states does not harm competition and trade to an unacceptable extent. In this approach, the Commission limits itself to checking governments’ definitions of the remit and tries to ensure a certain level of predictability for other players in the market. In doing so, the Commission seems to be finding a balance between the necessity for public broadcasters to evolve in rapidly developing media markets, and commercial actors’ apprehensions that there are no clear limits to this evolution (see e.g. VPRT, 2003). In short, the Commission’s approach to the definition criterion has evolved through the examination of different cases. Initial approaches have been fine-tuned and brought into line with state aid rules. The line between the Commission and member states with regard to the definition of the remit, however, remains a thin one. Overall, it is clear (as already stated) that the Commission fears a “stretching” or abuse of member states’ competences to define the remit, and wants to prevent an unwarranted expansion of it on the basis of vague democratic, social and cultural policy objectives.

Entrustment and control: the introduction of ex ante control The impact of Commission policy on the remit of public broadcasting organizations is substantial, but there is currently significant flexibility for member states to determine what their public broadcasters should do. In terms of the second assessment criterion in state aid cases, i.e. entrustment and control, matters have recently become more complicated and


Chapter Eight

contentious. Notably in the decision on the German licence fee funding of ARD and ZDF and the decision on the financing of the Flemish public broadcaster VRT, the Commission has demarcated its approach toward entrustment and control. There are several elements to it, one of which deserves particular mention. In its latest decisions the Commission urges member states to implement ex ante control of new media activities (before entrusting these services to public broadcasters). This means that services that are not covered by any legal act or contract between a member state and its public broadcaster, require approval of the member state before they can be delivered by the public broadcaster. Following negotiation between the Commission and the German, Flemish and Irish authorities all member states involved agreed to install some sort of ex ante test for new media services. In the Flemish decision, it was stated that “without any prior evaluation and explicit entrustment of the Flemish government, the VRT is not allowed to deliver services or perform activities that are not covered by the Beheersovereenkomst” (European Commission, 2008: §239 (author translation from Dutch). The demand for ex ante control can be problematic for several reasons. First, while the aim of the Commission is to foster transparency, it might be overstretching its competence with regard to state aid and public broadcasting since the Broadcasting Communication does not make mention of ex ante control of new media services. Second, the idea of ex ante control is inspired by the Public Value Tests introduced in the UK in January 2007. However, it is not clear whether the UK system can be exported successfully to smaller member states that do not have the same resources to apply an ex ante test. Third, the Commission justifies its demand for an ex ante control by pointing to the rising number of complaints from private actors, maintaining that implementation of an ex ante evaluation would curb complaints significantly. However, the increasingly fierce competition in media and communication markets is likely to yield more complaints rather than less, and it is unlikely that ex ante control, in which the private sector might rather crudely determine the remit of public broadcasters, will change this trend. Fourth, and perhaps most crucially, ex ante evaluations relate to individual services whereas public broadcasters represent a much wider project. Judgement of singular services could far too easily introduce a market failure logic into the public broadcasting project, and eventually lead to marginalization of public broadcasting organizations. In terms of the potential risks of ex ante control, member states should be vigilant towards Commission policy on the entrustment and control of public broadcasters.

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


Proportionality: transparency of accounts The Broadcasting Communication and other European legislation have several times addressed the importance of proportionality in funding and transparency in accounting. The aspects of proportionality and transparency have probably had the most significant influence so far on the financial and structural organization of public broadcasters. Before focusing on the Commission’s decisions, two remarks should be made with regard to the proportionality criterion. Firstly, the fact that public compensation should not exceed the net costs of public service delivery, and that commercial and public revenues and costs should be separated in public broadcasters’ accounts, is not to imply that public broadcasters can receive only public revenues. The nature of the funding system, whether dual or single, is determined by the member states (Antoniadis, 2006). Secondly, proportionality is an important criterion since it stresses the need for transparency in public broadcasters’ accounts and structures. Without such transparency and clarity the Commission cannot check the possible compatibility of state aid (see e.g., European Commission, 2007). However, the relevance of transparency and its practical application (e.g., separation of accounts) lies not so much in its value to the Commission in its assessment of state aid, but rather in its positive effect on public broadcasters. Public broadcasters are notorious for their inefficient management, complex accounting systems, troubled financial relationships with subsidiaries, political intervention, etc. The Commission’s demands for greater clarity have created a momentum for the reform of public broadcasters and, in many countries, including the UK, Spain and Portugal, the financial and organizational structures of public broadcasters have changed significantly, and for the better, since the mid 1990s. Despite their intrinsic positive merit for public broadcasting, proportionality and transparency have been controversial in the framework of state aid control. Several state aid cases illustrate the somewhat problematic nature of proportionality assessments. Firstly, the Commission’s analysis of over-compensation, on the basis of which, so far two negative decisions have been taken (concerning the ad hoc payment to the Dutch NOS and the funding of TV2/Danmark), is often considered to be flawed empirically. In the Dutch case, for example, the mathematical exercise that revealed the €76.8 million excess aid (European Commission, 2004), did not include only a cost/revenue assessment of the ad hoc funds being scrutinized (e.g., matching funds in anticipation of the rising prices of programming rights), it also took account of the entire


Chapter Eight

annual funding of NOS. Leaving aside the impossibility of doing otherwise, assessment of the proportionality of the ad hoc funds (which involved the ad hoc funds plus the annual public revenues) was not able to determine to what extent the ad hoc funds exceeded the net cost of the public service delivery for which they were intended. Therefore, the Dutch authorities argued that the Commission was wrong, on empirical grounds, to declare the state aid measures incompatible with the EC Treaty. They also pointed to the Amsterdam Protocol (1997), which explicitly refers to the acceptability of public service broadcasting funding “insofar as such funding does not affect trading conditions and competition in the Community to an extent which would be contrary to the common interest”. Since the Commission could not verify that there was indeed a negative impact from the behaviour of the Dutch public broadcaster on overall competition in the media market, following the Dutch complaint brought against the Commission before the Court of First Instance, it should not have reached the negative conclusion of overcompensation (European Commission, 2006). This argument cannot be taken too far, however, since the lack of facts and figures about the public broadcaster’s accounts is partly responsible for the empirical flaws in the Commission’s analysis. Certainly, the incapability (or unwillingness) of member states to provide the necessary data, makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Commission to conclusively assess the compatibility of state aid. Moreover, the misleading way that most public broadcasters’ accounts are presented, which gives the impression that funding is not proportionate vis-à-vis the public service tasks they are required to fulfil, inhibits both a fair proportionality assessment and efficient service delivery. Now that public broadcasters are expanding into new media markets, the transparency of their accounts and organization is even more important. Public broadcasters must take account of the increasing complexity of their activities and finances. However, this will not mean that the balancing act between the “socio-cultural” remit and “economic” market distortion will be fundamentally less difficult.

Conclusions As the state aid legal framework underlying the control of the funding of public broadcasters contains vague concepts (e.g. proportionality and services of general economic interest) and moreover is inherently complex (we refer to the balancing exercise underlying art. 86(2) EC, see §1.2.1), it is a priori difficult for the Commission to assess the definition, entrustment and financing of public broadcasting organizations. Therefore,

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


decisions can be interpreted as liberal or non-liberal depending on one’s normative stance. So far, the Commission’s decisions on the funding of public broadcasting organizations have not been consistent, which may be due to the fact that every state aid dossier is assessed on a case-by-case basis and depends heavily on the national system within which the particular broadcasters operate. Therefore, the answer to the research question “Is the Commission’s application of the legal framework having a negative impact on the remit, control and financing of public broadcasting organizations and is it as a consequence rightly perceived to be a threat to public service broadcasting” cannot be clear cut. Nonetheless, some conclusions can be drawn from our analysis. Firstly, our analysis illustrates that the Commission, in its most recent decisions, is urging member states to define the remit of their public broadcasting organizations more clearly, and certainly with regard to new media services. Whether this demand for clearer definition has a negative impact on the freedom of member states to define the public obligations of public broadcasters remains to be seen. On the one hand, the Commission is challenging the “digital” remit. Since the EC Treaty and the Amsterdam Protocol both acknowledge the liberties of member states regarding the definition of the remit, the introduction of the “closely associated” principle clearly exemplifies a desire to limit and curb the digital expansion of public broadcasters’ activities. Given the limited competences of the Commission with regard to definition, it might illustrate a “stretching of competences” on the Commission’s side. On the other hand, the criticisms levelled by the European Commission at certain digital activities of several public broadcasters has not yet led to a “remitbased” negative state aid decision. The Commission up to this point has merely “tickled” the sensitivities of member states with regard to the expansion of the remit to digital and new media markets. Moreover, the latest decision on the funding of the Flemish VRT shows that the Commission is limiting itself to controlling the member states rather than the public broadcasters. Technology neutrality remains somewhat problematic, but again the Commission’s approach has been more in line with its competences. Secondly, the impact on entrustment and control is more concrete then the observed impact on definition of the remit. In particular, the demand for an ex ante control system, which will be implemented in Germany and Flanders, should be approached with some caution. The legal basis for such a demand is unclear. Furthermore, ex ante control could lead to the marginalization of public service delivery by public broadcasting. In


Chapter Eight

addition, it could curb the innovative potential of public broadcasting organizations. Finally, an analysis of singular services should not–and cannot–replace appraisal of a holistic project such as public service broadcasting. Thirdly, with regard to the assessment of proportionality and transparency, there are some empirical and measurement problems. However, it cannot be denied that the Commission’s attempts to achieve greater transparency and separate accounting systems has benefited the public broadcasters. Hence, our evaluation of the impact of Commission policy on the remit, control and financing of public broadcasting organizations is fairly positive. The European Commission is trying to find ways of combining competition objectives with member states’ support for public broadcasting. Even where the conditions for granting exceptions to state aid are strictly defined, and where there is evidence of increased vigilance on the part of the Commission, our findings tend to corroborate the hypothesis of a positive attitude of the Commission towards public service broadcasting rather than a more aggressive and liberal approach towards the funding of public broadcasting organizations. Over the years, all parties have tried to be more explicit in terms of the framework within which public broadcasters are expected to evolve and be controlled. Member states have paid more attention to entrustment and control, and public broadcasting organizations have been pushed towards greater transparency. These results can be seen as positive outcomes of the Commission’s activities; they have supported the democratic objectives that public broadcasting represents. On the other hand, there are indications that the Commission, in assessing the role of public broadcasters in the digital era, is basing decisions on vague concepts. This could result in a stretching of the Commission’s competence to invade domains where member states should be the sole actors. Moreover, the impression that the Commission, like the member states and the public broadcasters, finds it hard to refine the digital media policy framework in a manner that is truly technology neutral, is an indication that a break through linear analogue media thinking is a long way off. It is necessary to truly embrace the differences imposed by digital technologies, when new actors enter the scene and new activities and business models emerge.

European State Aid Rules and the Public Service Broadcasting Remit in the Digital Age


References Antoniadis, A. (2006) “The financing of public service broadcasting” pp. 591-630 in M.S. Rydelski (ed.) The EC State aid regime: distortive effects of State aid on competition and trade. London: Cameron May. Armstrong, M. and E. Weeds (2005) Public service broadcasting in the digital world. http://12932941/eps/io/papers/0507/050710.pdf (accessed March 2007). Bavasso, A. (2006) “Chapter 17: Broadcasting” pp. 420-438 in L. Hancher, T. Ottervanger and P.J. Slot (eds) EC State Aids. London: Thomson Sweet and Maxwell. Buendía Sierra, J.L. (2006) “An analysis of Article 86(2) EC” pp. 541-574 in M.S. Rydelski (ed.) The EC State aid regime: distortive effects of State aid on competition and trade. London: Cameron May. Coppieters, S. (2003) “The financing of public service broadcasting” pp. 265-279 in A. Biondi, P. Eeckhout and J. Flynn (eds) The law of State aid in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Crocioni, P. (2006) “Can State aid policy become more economic friendly?”, World Competition, 29(1): 89-108. Davies, G., H. Black, A. Budd, R. Evans, J. Gordon, D. Lipsey, J. Neuberger and T Newton (1999) The Future Funding of the BBC: Report of the Independent Review Panel. London: Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Donders, K., J. Loisen and C. Pauwels (2008) Het Europese staatssteunbeleid en de openbare omroep: welke antwoorden voor de VRT? Brussels: Steunpunt Buitenlands Beleid. Duff, A. (1997) The Treaty of Amsterdam. London: the Federal Trust. European Commission (2003) “Decision State aid: BBC digital curriculum”, (C(2003)3371), 1 November 2003. —. (2004) “Decision State aid: measures implemented by Denmark for TV2/danmark”, (C(2004)1814), 19 May 2004. —. (2006) “Action brought on 4 September 2006: Nederlandse Omroep Stichting vs. Commission of the European Communities”, T237/06, 2 December 2006. —. (2007) “Decision State aid: Financing of public service broadcasters in Germany”, (C(2007)1761), 24 April 2007. —. (2003) “Green Paper on Services of General Economic Interest”, 21 May 2003. European Communities (1997) “Protocol on the system of public service broadcasting in the Member States” (part of the Amsterdam Treaty).


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Hansen, M., A. van Ysendyck and S. Zühlke (2004) “The coming of age of EC State aid law: a review of the principal developments in 2002 and 2003”, ECLR, 4: 202-233. Héritier, A. (2001) “Market integration and social cohesion: the politics of public services in European regulation”, Journal of European Public Policy, 8(5): 825-852. Hobbelen, H., V. Harris and I. Domínguez (2007) “The increasing importance of EC State aid rules in the communications and media sectors”, ECLR, 2: 101-115. Hoskins, C., McFayden, S. and Finn, A. (2004) Media economics. Applying economics to new and traditional media. London: Sage Publications. Humphreys, P. (2003) “EU Policy on State aid to Public Service Broadcasting”, Paper presented at the SMIT-CEAS-TELENOR Conference on the ICT and Media Sectors within the EU policy framework, Brussels, 7-8 April 2003. Knaul, A. and F. Pérez Flores (2007) “Part IV–State aid” pp. 1703-1785 in J. Faull and A. Nikpay (eds) The EC Law of Competition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kroes, N. (2006) “Strenghtening the European Creative Industries in the light of the i2010 Strategy”, Opening address at the Austrian Presidency Expert Seminar: content for competitiveness, Vienna (Austria), 2 March 2006. Nicolaides P., M. Kekelekis and P. Buyskens (2005) State aid policy in the European Community: A Guide for Practioners. The Hague: Kluwer Law International. Nihoul, P. (1998) “Les services d’intérêt général dans le Traité d’Amsterdam” pp. 341-355 in Y. Lejeune (ed.) Le Traité d’Amsterdam: espoirs et deceptions. Brussels: Bruylant. Nitsche, I. (2001) Broadcasting in the European Union: the Role of Public Interest in Competition Analysis. The Hague: TMC Asser Press. Quigley, C. and A. M. Collins (2003) EC State aid Law and Policy. Oxford: Hart Publishing. Reding, V. (2006) “Foreword” pp. 3-6 in E. Richards, R. Foster and T. Kiedrowski (eds) Communications the next decade: a collection of essays prepared for the UK Office of Communications. London: OFCOM. Santa María, A. (2007) Competition and State aid: An analysis of the EC Practice. The Hague: Kluwer Law International. Scharf, T. and L. Orssich Slavetich (2006) “The application of State aid rules to culture and sports” pp. 511-536 in M.S. Rydelski (ed.)

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The EC State aid regime: distortive effects of State aid on competition and trade. London: Cameron May. Szyszczak, E. (2004) “Public Services in the New Economy” pp. 185-206 in C. Graham and F. Smith (eds) Competition, Regulation and the New Economy. Portland: Hart Publishing. Van Dijk, M., Nahuis, R. and D. Waagmeester (2006) “Does public service broadcasting serve the public? The future of television in the changing media landscape”, The Economist, 154(2): 251-276. Verband Privater Rundfunk und Telekommunikation (VPRT) (2003) “Transparanz bei Gebührenverwendung eingefordert– Steuerbegünstigung steht auf dem Prüfstand”, VPRT, Berlin, 24 April 2003.


Introduction1 Public opinion in Europe tends to associate the norm of entrepreneurship of the European Union (EU) with policy arenas such as the environment, consumer protection, health and safety standards (Eurobarometer 62.7, 2007; 65.1, 2006; 64.3, 2006). The EU’s role in promoting gender equality, by contrast, is much less acknowledged in public discourse. Despite widespread agreement among academics, political actors and feminist activists that the EU gender equality architecture of the last decade is an “illustration of successful mobilisation” of women’s activists within and outside of the European institutions (Woodward and Hubert, 2007: 3), the “news” of this success has not travelled well within the EU. European media are much more prone to pick up on excesses or perversions of the implementation of EU gender equality directives than on their achievements (see Der Spiegel, 1/2007). Women journalists across Europe remain underpaid and grossly under-represented in decision making positions in the media (European Federation of Journalists Survey, 2006; Gibbons, 2005). The task of framing public discourse on gender equality in Europe thus faces substantial challenges. With media discourse on gender across Europe being erratic, infrequent and at best marginal, the issue of who speaks for European women and who advocates for gender equality gains particular relevance. 1

I would like to thank Elizabeth McKee and Elizabeth Lyons for their assistance with the data collection for this chapter. This research was funded by the EU Center of the University of Washington.

Gendering European Publics?


One group of activists stands out as a potential enabler as well as communicator of EU gender equality successes: European women’s civil society organizations and their transnational advocacy networks (TANs).2 Women’s NGOs and their networks operate as pressure groups and most pronounced “outsiders” in the EU policymaking arena. They are widely credited as central in bringing about changes in European gender equality legislation (Woodward, 2004; Zippel, 2006). This chapter focuses on how women’s transnational advocacy networks in the EU practise advocacy and, more specifically, whether and how they employ the repertoire of public mobilization and inclusion to reach their advocacy goals.

Strong Publics and Advocacy There is little disagreement among scholars, politicians and civil society groups that the legitimacy of the EU rests on strong publics (Habermas, 1996; Eriksen and Fossum, 2002; Nanz, 2006; Fossum and Schlesinger, 2007). Yet what defines strong publics is contested. Recent scholarship has built on Nancy Fraser’s (1992) distinction between strong and weak publics, the former being a public “whose discourse encompasses both opinion formation and decision-making”, the latter being publics “whose deliberative practice consists exclusively in opinion formation and does not also encompass decision making” (Fraser, 1992: 134). Yet what Fraser conceptualized as a fluid environment in which weaker publics strive to become part of stronger publics and in which hybrid forms of publics exist in civil society, turns into a static concept in other accounts. For example for Eriksen and Fossum (2002: 401-405), strong publics are “institutionalized bodies of deliberation and decision-making” situated 2

Note that I use the term TAN differently from Keck and Sikkink (1998) in their seminal study. Keck and Sikkink (1998: 2) include in TANs all actors “who are bound together by shared values, a common discourse, and dense exchanges of information and services”. They thus include both institutional and noninstitutional actors such as “(1) international and domestic nongovernmental research and advocacy organizations, (2) local social movements, (3) foundations, (4) the media, (5) churches, trade unions, consumer organizations, and intellectuals, (6) parts of regional and international intergovernmental organizations, and (7) parts of the executive and;/or parliamentary branches of governments” (Keck and Sikkink, 1998: 2). I define TANs more narrowly as principled civil society networks of organizations, groups, and individuals that mobilize for a common cause. The reason for excluding parliament and the political executive is the embeddedness of insiders in government, which I assert needs to be distinguished from the structural positions of outsider advocates.


Chapter Nine

solely within the political system, whereas civil society publics are in essence weak publics, fostered by civil society activity and excluded from decision making processes. Thus, in their theoretical framework, the institutionalized deliberations of the European Parliament, the process leading to the Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2000 as well as the meetings of the European Convention in 2002/3 would all fall under the rubric of “strong publics” (Eriksen 2007: 37). All three processes share a location within the political system of the EU, are broadly based on the principle of “citizen inclusion and empowerment” and foster rational exchanges of argument. Eriksen and Fossum acknowledge, however, that the space given to statements by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and TANs in the Charter Convention as well as in the Constitutional Treaty Convention were extremely limited and that a pre-selection process was employed to decide which NGOs and TANs should be granted faceto-face interaction with the Convention members. Yet they highlight the formal openness of processes in which civil society actors can engage in public deliberation in a circumscribed space and time. The fact that civil society participation in the Charter and Constitutional Convention was highly scripted, reduced to consultative rather than participatory interactions and favouring well organized Brussels based NGO networks (Cammaerts, 2006), is sidelined in this theory. Strong publics for Eriksen and Fossum would be institutionalized and decision-making publics that in principle allow for civil society access, however limited de facto it is. On the other side of this debate over strong publics are academics and activists who employ Fraser’s distinction less categorically and are more process oriented. In these accounts, emphasis is put on the fluidity between weaker and stronger publics and on the overall chances that the institutionalized publics provide for access of non-aggregated public opinion. For Michael Greven (2000: 51), access to and repertoire of advocacy on the Brussels stage has severe limitations. The “political space and the communication that constitute the EU are semipublic” at best, because “very few citizens are involved on this level”. Institutions serve as gatekeepers against strong public input. Moreover, much of the traditional mobilization repertoire of social movements and NGO activists, i.e. protests, demonstrations, sit-ins, boycotts or acts of civil disobedience, face larger logistical challenges in an EU context than at national level. Movements, NGOs, and TANs therefore tend to rely on “professional support and expertise to be effective” (Greven, 2000: 51). As a result, access, advocacy repertoire, and targets of communication are shaped by the specific governance culture within the EU. In effect, institutionalized semi-publics for Greven prevent the emergence of stronger civil society

Gendering European Publics?


based publics. A third theoretical path in the discussion of strong and weak publics in the EU focuses on the potential of actors to employ insider and outsider mobilization repertoires simultaneously (Rucht, 2001). One of the obvious examples of a successful combination of insider lobbying and bargaining together with public mobilization and contentious media savvy strategies are EU farmers’ protests (Imig and Tarrow, 2001). Even though advocates in different policy sectors face different challenges, they all navigate between effective institutional lobbying and public outreach. Strong publics in this theoretical concept are not per se institutional publics, but publics that combine and bridge institutional and public advocacy.

Institutional and public advocacy Institutional and public advocacy describe differing modes of operation of NGOs and TANs, different repertoires of action and different communication strategies. Institutional advocacy would signal adherence to the logic of democratically legitimated decision-making bodies as the only strong publics in democracies. Advocacy strategies, therefore, would be tailored to getting access to insiders within the EU governance system, to gaining legitimacy as representative of a specific constituency, and to working constructively with insiders to achieve policy efficacy. In institutional advocacy, claims to expertise tend to trump claims to representation of broad constituencies. Public advocacy, by contrast, would imply a focus on mobilization of EU civil society and citizens for European wide causes with the assumption that broader social movement or civic action input would generate influence in decision making. Public advocacy strategies would be less driven by the attempt to gain insider status and more by a focus on generating broad public support from EU citizens. Claims to legitimate advocacy would tend to rely less on elite expertise and more on representing aggregates of citizens. The following argument contributes to a critical perspective on the European public sphere by exploring how transnational women’s advocacy networks try to navigate the tension between institutional and public advocacy. This distinction challenges the previously stated assumption that strong publics are necessarily insider publics within the political system. Instead, it assumes that strong publics need access to decision making, but they can gain access as outsiders or civil society actors, for example by mobilizing enough citizen support or initiating symbolic action. As noted above, institutional and public advocacy are not incompatible


Chapter Nine

mobilization strategies. In general, institutional advocacy gains more leverage if institutions perceive the potential of NGOs to engage in public campaigns and to have broad, actively backing constituencies, as strong. And, in turn, public advocacy repertoires, such as campaigns or protests, are considered to be more effective if at the same time lines of institutional communication are being established and nurtured. Optimizing insider/outsider navigation can be essential for successful actors on the stages of European public spheres. The focus of the ensuing argument will be on how European transnational women’s networks manage the insider/outsider bridging between institutional and public advocacy. Of specific interest is what kind of access routes, mobilization repertoire and communication strategies these TANs use. The argument proceeds as follows. I first explore how institutions within the EU conceptualize the role of the non-governmental sector and, more specifically, its capacity to contribute to a European public sphere. I then introduce five European transnational women’s NGO networks and discuss their communication and advocacy strategies. How do these networks mobilize and who is the target of mobilization? What means of communication do they employ and how do they utilize the internet for advocacy purposes? The last two sections of the article will discuss case studies of successful mobilization and public participation cases as well as overall limits to advocacy that women’s TANs face in the context of European governance.

The EU and NGOs The institutions of the EU have in recent years intensified their efforts to institutionalize the role of NGOs and transnational networks within the EU governance regime. In 2000, the Commission published a discussion paper on “The Commission and non-governmental organisations: building a stronger partnership”, that explicitly extends the previous EU focus on NGOs in the social policy arena and addresses civic actors across all relevant policy sectors (European Commission, 2000). Co-operation between the EU executive and the non-governmental sector is encouraged because: “belonging to an association provides an opportunity for citizens to participate actively in new ways other than or in addition to involvement in political parties or trade unions. Increasingly NGOs are recognised as a significant component of civil society and as providing valuable support for a democratic system of government” (European Commission, 2000: 4)

Gendering European Publics?


Although the Commission report states that “the decision making process in the EU is first and foremost legitimized by the elected representatives of the European people”, it emphasizes the specific contribution that the non-governmental sector can make, namely to foster a “more participatory democracy both within the European Union and beyond”. From this perspective NGOs are perceived as stakeholders for disenfranchised and marginalized populations, as they have the ability “to reach the poorest and most disadvantaged and to provide a voice for those not sufficiently heard through other channels”. Furthermore, the Commission values the expert input of NGOs whom policy knowledge can feed into negotiations and decision making processes. NGOs are also acknowledged in their capacity to manage and monitor projects financed by the EU and thus in the somewhat contradictory functions of organizing implementation and evaluation. And finally, by encouraging co-operation among national NGOs and stimulating the formation of European NGO networks, the Commission hopes to foster the formation of a “European public opinion”. The Commission paper highlights the fact that NGOs and, more specifically, transnational networks of NGOs are perceived as prima facie expressions of civil society (European Commission, 2000). In 2003, the Commission established a set of minimum standards, specifically addressing which stakeholders and NGOs should be consulted at what time by which process (European Commission, 2002). Gaining legitimacy and increasing access to NGO expertise in part motivated this institutionalization of “civic dialogue”. But the European Commission and the European Parliament also voiced the expectation that NGOs and their networks would serve as transmitters and translators of EU policies in their respective fields of operation. In sum, EU institutions construct NGOs and their transnational networks in a dual capacity: Institutionally, they contribute to the legitimacy of EU governance; publicly, they foster the creation of a European civil society. Ideally, they do not only fulfil public information needs and provide adequate “problem solving capacity” (Bohman, 1996: 240), they also create the blueprint for a European public. Thus, the aggregate of national NGOs engaged in European politics and transnational networking are perceived by EU insiders to be a central part of the European public sphere. Transnational women’s networks are part of this extensive civic culture of NGOs within the EU. Some forms of international co-operation between national women’s groups already existed in the 1970s and 1980s, but these were mostly bi-national co-operation that included visits to other countries’ women’s centres, joint educational seminars and work-study projects. This changed in the early 1990s with the rights based take-off


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phase of European integration and the shift from the Community method to more open multilevel governance processes. The focus on rights gave women’s groups increasing leverage and multilevel governance extended the institutional settings in which NGOs and networks could be heard. Today, not only does EU governance offer an occasional opening for NGO participation, but it actually provides regular institutional space, i.e. through Commission sponsored groups and parallel NGO conferences which in turn encourage networking and strong ties among women NGOs (Cichowski, 2002: 2; Pudrovska and Ferree, 2004: 5). But not only does the EU grant organizational space and opportunity for networking, it also provides funding for transnational networking activities that is highly attractive to NGOs. Major funding sources such as programmes within the European Structural Funds or the European Fund for Regional Development contain provisions that ask for transnational co-operation and exchange of ideas among similar projects in the EU member states. Thus networking has been made an institutional priority within the EU which in turn helps organize civic transnational practices. Transnational women’s networks are perceived to be highly active, visible and overall successful actors in the EU (Cichowski, 2002; Woodward, 2004; Zippel, 2006; Montoya, 2008). They contribute to an overall impression that women’s issues are well represented in Brussels and that a thick civil society infrastructure is well equipped to organize communication in institutional settings. But does this imply that these networks are successful in generating women’s publics across EU member states? The next section will address communication infrastructure and networking strength in five European transnational networks.

European Women’s TANs Women in Europe have organized across borders not just since the inception of the European Community in 1957. Co-operation and joint mobilization among women’s organizations was part of the fabric of the first women’s movement in the late 19th century and can be traced to the second women’s movement starting in the 1970s. And yet there are certain characteristics that make women’s TANs of the 1980s and beyond unique and potentially powerful. First, they respond to new institutional configurations. With the rights-based take-off phase of the EU in the 1980s, fuelled by the first equality ruling of the European Court of Justice in the 1970s (Cichowski, 2007: 203), social actors gained recognition and became empowered to act as advocates for the rights of European citizens. Advocates for women’s rights were suddenly in a position to mobilize

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around issues such as the right to equal pay, a non-discriminatory (work) environment, or equal access to all parts of the labour market. Second, women’s rights activists see new strategic opportunities. Women’s TANs after 1980 began to use the transnational institutions of the EU in order to target national policies, thus employing the famous “boomerang effect” introduced by Keck and Sikkink (1998: 13). At the same time, European institutions are dependent on expertise from civil society actors and thus the EU actively encourages the development of women’s TANs (Mazey, 1998; Hoskyns, 1996). And, third, they have new means of communication at their disposal, which make transnational co-operation and mobilization easier and potentially more effective than ever before. Email alerts, the Internet, web based campaigns as well as internal communication networks allow for faster information and mobilization across European feminist hubs. These three innovations: institutional scale, strategy and communication, define the specific political opportunity structure for women’s TANs on the stages of Europe. The most prominent and largest network is the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), founded in 1990 as an umbrella organization for European women’s groups. In the mid 1990s, the EWL saw a dramatic increase in membership (Woodward and Hubert, 2007) to about 2,700 affiliates in 2000 (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 143) and to over 4,000 in the aftermath of the large accession round of 2004 (EWL, 2005). Former EWL President, Barbara Helfferich, attributes the creation of the organization to the realization among national women’s organizations in Europe that “policy input at the European level was crucial for the advancement of their national agendas” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 148). Since its inception, EWL has become “the favoured dialogue partner with the European Institutions” (Woodward and Hubert 2007; Helfferich and Kolb, 2001). EWL is “almost exclusively dependent” on annual grants from the European Parliament, which constitutes some 80% to 85% of its yearly budget (EWL, 2007; Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 148). EWL’s advocacy strategy is described by Helfferich and Kolb in three dimensions: First, working on non-controversial issues shared by all affiliated organizations; two, providing information, expertise and funding to national and local level groups; and, three, encouraging communication between members and the EWL bureau in Brussels (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 150). It is apparent that public outreach is not a central part of EWL’s mission. Instead, EWL’s “survival and effectiveness depend on ‘friendly individuals’ inside the Parliament and the Commission” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 148). No other European transnational women’s network approaches the


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EWL’s institutional influence, its transnational membership base or its yearly funding from the EU.3 And yet EWL at times is criticized for operating under the condition of the smallest common denominator, sidelining controversial issues such as sexual reproduction and minority rights (Fuchs, 2006). As alternative networking spaces, a number of smaller transnational women’s networks in Europe have gained prominence in the past decade. Four of these, which are included in the analysis in this chapter, represent the largest constituencies in the fields of violence against women and development and environmental protection, as well as a focus on Central and Eastern European countries. The women’s network WAVE (Women Against Violence in Europe) is a Coalition of European women’s organizations that was founded in the context of the Beijing Conference in 1994. WAVE represents over 4,000 women’s organizations and communicates with these via 81 focal points across Europe that are in charge of disseminating information and being co-ordination links to the central office in Vienna. WAVE and its members receive substantial funding through the EU DAPHNE programme which is geared towards combating violence. WIDE, Women in Development Europe, is a network that was founded in 1985 and has in recent years focused its advocacy on monitoring trade relationships and capacity building in Central and Eastern European countries. WIDE comprises 13 regional platforms that serve as communicative hubs in national and regional contexts. WECF, Women in Europe for a Common Future is a network of 80 environmental women’s organizations in 37 European and bordering Asian countries, that was founded in 1994. WECF promotes advocacy and capacity building to address environmental issues with a gender lens, and foster co-operation among European NGOs. Finally, women’s organizations from Eastern and Central European countries have joined the KARAT Coalition. KARAT was founded in 1997 in the aftermath of the Beijing UN Women’s Conference (MarksovaTominova, 2006; Fuchs, 2006). Its membership base consists of about 30 women’s organizations. It seeks influence at United Nations as well as EU level and puts special emphasis on fighting against “fortress Europe” closures in EU member states. In order to assess the networks’ public advocacy profiles, we coded two sets of web-based mobilization and advocacy means for these five networks. The following analysis is based on the assumption that public 3

In 2003, EWL received €820,000 of EU funding. The KARAT network, by contrast, had no income from the EU in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, KARAT received €34,000 from the EU (Kinga Lohmann, email interview, 2006).

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advocacy has changed its face in recent years. The contemporary media environment encourages a wide scope of actions in which technologies of information and communication are centrally involved (Bimber et al., 2005: 365). Web-based public mobilization seems particularly useful for distributed networks that span different countries. Table 1: European Transnational Women’s Networks: Web-based Mobilization and Advocacy Means4 (Access November 2006 and August/September 2007; URLs coded 2 levels depth)


Calendar of Events

Join/Become a Member

no no no yes yes

yes yes yes yes yes

Email sign up yes yes no yes yes

Option to Donate yes no yes yes yes

Participate in blog/ forums no no no yes no

Add other content yes no yes no no

The first set of data highlights the kinds of information and activities that the networks provide for members and interested non-members. The primary aim of this data set is to gauge how actively networks seek public involvement and encourage a public voice on their sites. The activities coded here are scaled.5 Clearly information about upcoming events and email alerts have a more passive involvement quality than active membership and the ability to donate to the network. At the far side of the activity spectrum would be actions that would allow participation in online discussion forums or blogs, and the possibility to contribute one’s own content to the network’s website. Whereas most networks offer information, email alerts, membership and enable donations, there is a clear drop off of commitment in terms of giving a voice to members and interested parties. Four of the five sites do not offer blogs or discussion forums, and three of the sites do not solicit 4

Tables 1 and 2 are based on a modification of a coding scheme originally developed by Lance Bennett, Kirsten Foot, Lea Werber and Michael Xenos (2007). I am grateful for their generosity in sharing their methodology. 5 We coded the websites in three different time periods: November 2006, August 2007 and September 2007. Reliability checks were performed on both data sets in September 2007.

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inputs from their constituencies. The second set of data provides evidence regarding the options of site visitors to act. We asked whether the sites provide features that encourage or enable visitors to join a campaign or make a public statement addressed to any of the body politics below, from local government to business. Table 2: European Transnational Women’s Networks: Targets of Webbased Mobilization and Advocacy (Access November 2006 and August/September 2007; URLs coded 2 levels depth)

Action Information Local Government National Govt Supranational Govt Business Other Local Sphere Report Action

EWL yes no yes yes no no no yes

KARAT yes yes yes no no no yes yes

WAVE yes no indirect* indirect no no no yes

WECF yes no no no no no no yes

WIDE yes no no no no no no no

* through a webpage provided by a different site producer

All websites in one form or the other provide downloadable actionoriented campaign information or materials such as toolkits, organizing guidelines, flyers for distribution, etc. This creates a pathway for action that is based on the network’s controlled frames and messages. Yet when we ask whether these networks extend this pathway beyond site visitors being multipliers for network campaigns, into a more activist arena where individuals are encouraged to target specific political entities, businesses or other agents, the results are much more mixed. Two of the networks, WECF and WIDE, do not offer any targeted web based mobilization options. WAVE provides a venue for public advocacy by site visitors through transferral to other sites. Only KARAT and EWL use the potential of targeted web based mobilization to activate their constituencies. In terms of sites encouraging organizing for gender issues in the local sphere of influence, i.e. one’s community or town, school or workplace or church, or in another public space, none of the networks except KARAT offer such encouragement. By contrast, four of the five networks report action taken by others in the same arena of advocacy. In sum, the five analysed networks do not make full use of the existing web based mobilization and advocacy potential. Activities of members and

Gendering European Publics?


individuals are not consistently, in some cases not even particularly encouraged. Specific venues for addressing gender equality issues with one’s own local national or supranational government as well as with business are not facilitated by any of these networks. Whereas all networks offer action information for distribution, only KARAT encourages action in the local environment. The public advocacy of these women’s TANs exposes an “information” bias that might come at the expense of “activation” options. If membership activation is not at the centre of the network’s advocacy success, but these networks are considered to be effective overall, then what informs successful campaigns? In the next section I analyse three campaigns by European women’s TANs with a focus on whether the campaign success was due primarily to institutional or public advocacy or to bridging both repertoires.

Mobilizing Gender: Characteristics of Advocacy As noted in the introduction, the rise of the EU as a norm entrepreneur for gender equality can be attributed in part to successful mobilization of women’s NGOs and their networks since the 1980s. Women’s networks pushed for pay equity and for anti-discrimination legislation, fought against sexual harassment and for the inclusion of gender equality principles in the main treaties of the emerging Union. While these successes are not in dispute, what is of interest here is how they came about. What kind of strategies did transnational women’s advocates employ to reach their goals? Who was targeted and what means of communication were used? In order to investigate these questions in more detail, the following section utilizes case studies of respective struggles over policies, examining not the policy results, but the mobilizers and the strategies employed. The three cases analysed here are: the successful incorporation of sexual harassment into the 2002 Equal Treatment Directive; the introduction of gender mainstreaming into the Treaty of Amsterdam; and the, only partially successful, attempt to include gender equality as a main frame in the Charter of Human Rights attached to the Constitution draft in 2002.

Sexual Harassment in the Equal Treatment Directive It was a “gender equality TAN” that successfully raised the issue of sexual harassment in the EU in the 1980s and then pushed for its incorporation into the revised Equal Treatment Directive of 2002 (Zippel, 2004; 2006).


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During a time when national governments remained largely unresponsive to the issue of sexual harassment, a network of policy insiders within the EU as well as transnational NGOs helped to push the issue onto the EU employment agenda. In terms of its members, the “gender equality TAN” that Kathrin Zippel’s work analyses consists of only a few “small, single-issue, nationally based women’s organizations”. In her assessment, more important TAN members than these NGOs are “’friendly’ policy makers within EU institutions and unions, legal experts, and researchers” (Zippel, 2004: 63). In effect, the sexual harassment TAN is less NGO based and more an expert and insider advocacy coalition. It is geared towards meeting the needs of the institutional policy making process. The administrative culture of the EU relies strongly on experts, and TANs are generally well equipped with experts who can provide the kind of scientific frames that support the administrative lingua franca. At the same time, members of the TAN such as academics and other researchers solicit funding from the EU to generate, discuss and disseminate this expert knowledge. The sexual harassment TAN relies on the power of networking of committed, principled actors across borders and organizations. Having “multiple access routes to policy making arenas” (Zippel, 2004: 63) is key. In effect, Zippel cites three factors for the success of the campaign. First, the policy expertise created by the TAN; second, the political opportunity structure within the EU; and third, a “ping-pong effect” in which the TAN, and national and supranational institutions engaged together in order to advance specific issues (Zippel, 2004). Zippel’s study exemplifies an insider driven institutional advocacy culture that operates smoothly without having to rely on the “traditional” mobilization mechanisms of social movements. The advocacy that is practised is confined to the administrative offices of Brussels and prepared in expert circles. It does not rely on public advocacy for its success. Zippel states that: “there was neither coordinated protests nor lobbying activities from advocates for sexual harassment policy. Few press releases or position papers were issued. Neither women’s groups nor labour organizations coordinated campaigns, protests, or widespread lobbying efforts in the late 1990s” (Zippel, 2004: 78)

Primary resources were expert information and institutional advocacy. The mobilization of broader publics is not part of the campaign success.

Gendering European Publics?


Gender Equality in the Amsterdam Treaty One of the most crucial advances towards gender equality on the EU level was made with the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997. A successful “co-ordinated lobbying campaign”, spearheaded by the EWL, resulted in legal milestones for gender equality, introducing the gender mainstreaming principle and provisions to fight discrimination outside of the employment sector. Barbara Helfferich, the then President of EWL, explains that the campaign “included a variety of different strategies and activities, from informational and educational efforts to lobbying actions and activities on the European as well as on the national levels, plus the occasional protest mobilization” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 144, emphasis added). What defined the campaign’s success, according to Helfferich and Kolb, was EWL’s “multilevel action co-ordination” combined with a favourable political opportunity structure. Multilevel action co-ordination stands for activities geared to the supranational and the national levels, with different actors being brought together under the umbrella of EWL. A window for reform, initiated by the new Scandinavian member states, Sweden and Finland, in conjunction with old members, Denmark and Greece, provided a gender friendly environment for the campaign. EWL’s main target was the limitation of the gender equality principle to the workplace, as laid out in art. 119 of the Treaty of Rome. During the first debates on the treaty revision, the EU decided to convene an expert group with the evocative name “The Group of Wise Men”. EWL responded with the appointment of a shadow group called “The Wise Women’s Group”. As Helfferich and Kolb point out, this group of legally versed feminists was essential to match the level of expertise among insiders. In effect, in 1996, Europe was, for many national women’s organizations, hardly a mobilization target. Educating these national and local organizations about the issues at stake was therefore another crucial advocacy component. Even though institutional forms of lobbying clearly had priority, EWL in this specific successful campaign also tried to attract media attention. It initiated a Europe wide petition for signatures in support of EWL’s position on the treaty. Within six weeks, 40,000 signatures had been collected by member organizations and publicly handed to a member of the treaty negotiations during a public rally in Brussels (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 157). Institutional and public advocacy were combined, albeit with a strong bias towards the former. Yet the “occasional mobilization of protest” appeared to be an effective part of successful pressure tactics. At the same time it made broader publics aware of the work of EWL. The multilevel co-ordination strategy that EWL employed to


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strengthen its legitimacy and institutional advocacy turned out to be very successful. EWL managed to instil gender mainstreaming positions in the Amsterdam Treaty. It employed a strategic mix of targeted mobilization that helped bring gender issues into the European public arena, broaden expert involvement, getting media attention and mobilize non-committed citizens. However, as in the previous case study of the sexual harassment campaign, institutional advocacy was at the centre of the TANs’ strategy. Extensive knowledge of the legal framework of the Union was needed, and combined in the Wise Women’s Group. The logic of effectiveness in Brussels demanded a strategy that “combined expert advice with the widest possible consultation with affiliated organisations, in order to propose clear textual amendments to the existing treaty of the Union” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 153). Even though the public advocacy repertoire was employed, in the activists’ account it remained marginal to the success of the campaign and is described as more of a secondary effect than a key part of the policy strategy.

Gender equality in the Constitution for Europe Another powerful EWL campaign was launched around the Constitutional Convention in 2002. Early in the Convention process, EWL launched a campaign criticising the fact that the governing body of the Convention, the Presidium, included only two women despite earlier interventions in support of equal representation of women (EWL, 2002). In January and February of 2002, EWL asked its membership for signatures to a letter in which the organization demanded that women’s rights and interests should be fully taken into account and parity democracy be practised in the Convention. Moreover, EWL participated in the Forum set up by the Treaty Secretariat and wrote several letters of concern directly to the Convention President, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. These letters were available on EWL’s website. The communications included concerns regarding masculine language used in the English draft version of the Preamble, with EWL demanding gender neutral language throughout the document as well as an inclusive approach to references (EWL, 2003). Other points of concern for the Women’s Lobby were the anchoring of gender equality in Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter for Human Rights. By failing to introduce gender equality as an overarching value in the first sentence of the charter and not using the language of gender mainstreaming to indicate its relevance in all policy arenas, the Convention, and the text of the charter in particular, reduced the equality agenda to the employment sector and failed to address structural

Gendering European Publics?


discrimination. Despite its interventions, EWL was not satisfied with the outcome of the Convention (EWL, 2005). Whereas the substance of EWL’s demands was a radical call for gender parity and mainstreaming in all aspects of the Charter and the Treaty, the advocacy repertoire it used was again largely geared towards providing expert input. The networks’ mobilization strategies relied first and foremost on institutional lobbying. EWL made use of the forums that were granted to the Civil Society Contact Group and used direct correspondence to the Presidium to articulate its position. Only at one point was a feminist public mobilized, and even then with the classic instrument of letter/postcard writing. Other forms of public communication, i.e. press events staged on the same day in European capitals, publicly visible protests and symbolic actions, were not employed. Even more than during the Amsterdam Treaty campaign, the internal logic of predefined space assigned to civil society actors absorbed the advocacy power of EWL. This is not to diminish the partial success of the campaign and the surely difficult task of pulling the resources and experts together become a powerful advocate for gender equality within the institutional public space. But it shows that institutional advocacy regularly trumps public advocacy in the campaigns of women’s transnational networks in the EU. At the same time, this “institutional influence” seldom takes on a “public” character, in that the participation of European women’s TANs is only rarely acknowledged in official documents. Emanuela Lombardo and Petra Meier have studied the frames of gender concepts in EU documents over time. They reach the conclusion that even though women’s TANs provide expert memoranda and reports in policy arenas, it is not common practice to give them a voice in official documents. This disappearance of a feminist activist voice from official publications is not just the result of negligence with only cosmetic consequences. Lombardo and Meier (2008) establish a relation between the depth of a gender frame in a policy arena and the extent to which gender experts and feminist activists speak or are spoken of in official policy documents (Lombardo and Meier, 2008: 119). Yet they also show that it is only one frame, that of the “domestic violence” discourse, where feminist activists and their networks, EWL and WAVE in particular, are visible in public policy documents. In the discourse on “gender inequality in politics”, by contrast, “feminist NGOs such as the EWL […] are rarely mentioned in official documents” (Lombardo and Meier, 2008: 118). Institutional advocacy, even if it is successful in terms of policy output, in effect does not guarantee visibility even within the confined institutional


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public of documents and policy frames. Thus, women’s TANs for the most part find their advocacy relegated to the discursive contexts of meetings and conferences. Their actual input is not recorded adequately in documentation.

Conclusion: Institutionalized advocacy and the gendering of European publics If institutionalized advocacy produces overall positive results for gender equality, then where is the problem? The literature on European civil society generally points to problems of accountability and democratic legitimacy if civic actors are highly incorporated and do not manage to keep communication channels with their constituencies open (Warleigh, 2001). In this line of reasoning, if the constituencies for European women’s TANs are not adequately integrated in deliberative processes, neither NGO actions nor policy outcomes are adequately legitimized. This chapter has tried to contribute another perspective on the problems that the sole focus on institutional advocacy raises: If women’s transnational advocacy networks do concentrate on institutional advocacy, they sideline the chance of generating stronger women’s publics and of becoming facilitators in the bridging of public and institutional advocacy– for which they are structurally well positioned. Women’s TANs have a broad range of web-based and low-cost mobilization tools to hand which they do not fully employ. Their overall approach to their constituencies can be framed more as “informational” and less as “activating or advocacy oriented”. In particular the interactive repertoire that the web provides is not used to the fullest extent possible and thus more participatory engagement of broader publics is forfeited. As our analysis shows, there are multiple reasons why these networks focus on institutional advocacy. First, we identified what Liebert (2002: 255) calls “knowledge-based communications strategies” as a key strategy of women’s TANs in Europe. Yet relying on expert discourses has its costs, among them that expert communication needs to be translated for broader (local or national) public debates. Moreover, being part of an expert network alleviates some of the pain that is often associated with broader public mobilization. Therefore, second, institutional actors such as policy makers, members of parliament and administrators have an interest in the expertise that transnational women’s NGO networks bring to the table. Incorporation of the expert discourses of TANs adds legitimacy to European institutions. As for EWL, its former President states that “informal friendly contacts have led to formal and more important lobbying interactions,

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strengthening not only the role of the EWL but that of agencies trying to advance equality as well” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 148). In effect, EU institutions not only applaud but actively encourage and fund the creation of TANs (Zippel, 2004). Third, women’s transnational advocacy networks by definition experience “several degrees of separation” from grassroots women’s groups and local and regional organizations–from those that might best be able to mobilize large numbers of citizens and use (local) public space for protests and civic action repertoires. However, in the absence of strong local and national feminist publics, there is a scarcity of obvious actors with whom TANs could practice public advocacy. Accordingly, EWL officials rightly point to the difficulties of constructing joint positions among such a wide variety of members with different cultural, economic and social backgrounds. Transnational interest formation, then, becomes primarily a problem of reducing complexities and settling sometimes for lower common denominators than originally envisioned. Therefore, the preference for institutional advocacy might also be the result of reducing complexities and conflict avoidance strategies. Fourth, public advocacy might produce stronger identity conflicts for TANs. There is valid concern that public outreach, including possibly confrontational public strategies, could “undermine” the position of NGOs and networks “that have gained recognition as ‘serious’, ‘responsible’, and ‘calculable’ players” (Rucht, 2001: 136). Finally, scarce resources and EU funding might contribute to a focus on institutional communication and advocacy. Helfferich and Kolb in fact point to the “ties that bind” problem in the context of the National Council of German Women. The fact that it “receives yearly funding from the German government”, they argue “made it harder for the group to take positions independent of the German government” (Helfferich and Kolb, 2001: 149). The same co-option logic could apply to EWL in a European context. In sum, women’s TANs in Europe face substantial obstacles to public advocacy. They work relatively efficiently in institutional contexts and their policy effectiveness is impressive overall. Yet the danger of constructing transnational advocacy as lobbying and mobilization of institutional capital is that large segments of women across Europe might not know about or might not identify with the ideas and issues that women’s TANs stand for. In effect, the lack of public advocacy among women’s transnational networks in Europe, identified in this chapter, might be an indicator of a larger problem. It seems that EU level advocacy can be fed by expert cultures, academics, committed national activists and


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EU level insiders, but also that ultimately it remains an advocacy culture without non-institutionalized publics.

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—. (2002) “Communication from the Commission: ‘Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue–General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission’”, COM (2002) 704, Brussels, 11 December 2002. EWL (2002) “Petition to the Presidium of the Convention, Brussels, Press Release. Campaign ‘Put your Weight Behind Equality in Europe’”. pdf (accessed 14 June 2008). —. (2003) “Letter to Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Regarding the Draft Constitutional Treaty”, June 3 2003. (accessed 14 June 2008). —. (2005) “Briefing Document on the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe”. Cat=18 (accessed 14 June 2008). —. (2007) Interview with network representative, Brussels. Fossum, J. E. and P. Schlesinger (2007) The European Union and the Public Sphere. A Communicative Space in the Making? London: Routledge. Fraser, N. (1992) “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy” pp. 109-42 in C. Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Fuchs, G. (2006) “Case Study: Polish Non-Governmental Women’s Organizations and the EU” pp. 54-65 in H. Pleines (ed.) Participation of Civil Society in New Modes of Government: The Case of the New EU Member States, Working Papers of the Research Center for East European Studies, No. 76, part 3: Involvement on the EU Level Bremen. Gibbons, S. (2005) “European News Media, AKA Bastion of Gender Bias” in Maynard Institute for Journalism Education News. (accessed 14 June 2008). Greven, M. Th. (2000) “Can the European Union Finally Become a Democracy?” pp. 35-62 in M. Th. Greven and L. W. Pauly (eds) Democracy beyond the State? The European Dilemma and the Emerging Global Order. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Habermas, J. (1996) Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge: MIT Press. Helfferich, B. and F. Kolb (2001) “Multilevel Action Coordination in European Contentious Politics” pp. 143-62 in D. Imig, S. Tarrow (eds)


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Contentious Europeans. Protest and Politics in an Emerging Polity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Hoskyns, C. (1996) Integrating Gender, Women, Law and Politics in the European Union. London: Verso. Imig, D. and S. Tarrow (eds) Contentious Europeans. Protest and Politics in an Emerging Polity. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Keck, M. and K. Sikkink (1998) Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca. NY: Cornell University Press. Liebert, U. (2002) “Europeanising Gender Mainstreaming. Constraints and Opportunities in the Multi-Level Euro-Polity”, Feminist Legal Studies, 10: 241-56. Lombardo, E. and P. Meier (2008) “Framing Gender Equality in the European Union Political Discourse”, Social Politics, 15(1): 101-29. Marksova-Tominova, M. (2006), “Die Koalition KARAT: Ein Zusammenschluss von Frauenorganisatonen der ehemaligen sozialistischen Laender”, Femina politica, 15(1): 115-117. Mazey, S. (1998) “The European Union and Women’s Rights. From the Europeanization of National Agendas to the Nationalization of a European Agenda?” pp. 134-55 in D. Hine and H. Kassim (eds) Beyond the Market: The EU and National Social Policy. London: Routledge. Millns, S. (2007) “Gender Equality, Citizenship, and the EU’s Constitutional Future”, European Law Journal, 13(2): 218-37. Montoya, C. (2008) “The European Union Capacity Building and Transnational Networks: Combating Violence Against Women Through the Daphne Program”, International Organization, 62(1): 359-72. Nanz, P. (2006) Europolis. Constitutional Patriotism Beyond the NationState. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Pudrovska, T. and M. M. Ferree (2004) “Global Activism in ‘Virtual Space’: the European Women’s Lobby in the Network of Transnational Women’s NGOs on the Web”, Social Politics, 11(1): 117-43. Rucht, D. (2001) “Lobbying or Protest? Strategies to Influence EU Environmental Policies” pp. 125-142 in D. Imig and S. Tarrow (eds) Contentious Europeans. Protest and Politics in an Emerging Polity. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Warleigh, A. (2001) “Europeanizing Civil Society: NGOs as agents of political socialization”, Journal of Common Market Studies, 39(4): 619-39.

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Woodward, A. (2004) “Building Velvet Triangles: Gender and Informal Governance”, in T. Christiansen and A. Piattoni (eds) Informal Governance in the European Union. Cheltenham: Elgar Publ. Woodward, A. and A. Hubert (2007) “Reconfiguring State Feminism in the European Union: Changes from 1995-2006”, unpublished paper presented at the European Studies Association Tenth Biennial International Conference, Montreal, Canada. Zippel, K. (2004) “Transnational Advocacy Networks and Policy Cycles in the EU: the Case of Sexual Harrassment”, Social Politics, 11(1): 5785. —. (2006) The Politics of Sexual Harrassment. A Comparative Study of the United States, the European Union, and Germany. New York: Cambridge University Press.


The editors Iñaki Garcia-Blanco is a media analyst working at the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (Cardiff University). He holds an MSc in Politics and Communication (London School of Economics and Political Science) and is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). He has also carried out research at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Previous to his appointment to Cardiff University, he was an associate lecturer at the UAB, where he taught undergraduate modules on media theory and public opinion. He is vice-chair of the Communication and Democracy section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association). Sofie Van Bauwel (PhD) is professor at the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Ghent (Belgium). She teaches film and television studies and cultural media studies at the Ghent University. She has also taught at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) as a guest professor. She is a member of the Working Group Film and Television Studies at Ghent University, where she is the co-editor of the Working Papers on Film and Television Studies published by Academia Press. Her research focuses on cultural media studies, film and television studies, and gender and the media. She has published on popular culture, feminist media theory, and gender and the media. She is vice-chair of the Gender and Communication section of ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association). Bart Cammaerts is a political scientist and media researcher lecturing on media, citizenship, and democracy at the Media and Communications department of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research interests include the impact of the Internet on the transnationalization of civil society actors, as well as on mobilization, direct action, (media) activism, and interactive participation; alternative media and practices of resistance; the use of the Internet by international organizations (UN and EU) in order to involve civil society actors in their

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication


decision-making processes and their claims to democratise global or regional governance processes. He publishes widely, is a member of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) and chairs the communication and democracy section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).

The Authors Cláudia Álvares obtained a PhD in Communication and Cultural Studies from Goldsmith's College (University of London), in June 2001, under the British Council Chevening Scholarship and the Portuguese Government/European Union Praxis XXI joint Scholarship. She is currently Associate Professor in Culture and Communication at the Communication, Arts and Information Technologies Department of Lusofona University, Lisbon (Portugal). She has published her doctoral thesis in book format, titled Humanism after Colonialism (Peter Lang, Oxford, 2006), as well as various articles in Portuguese and British journals. She is also coordinating a research project funded by the European Union, which consists in a content analysis of the discursive representation of the feminine in the Portuguese Press. Amongst her main interests are postcolonial criticism, cultural studies, gender and media studies, as well as psychoanalysis. Karen Donders graduated in communication sciences at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) on a thesis concerning US trade policy in the WTO and its impact on the audiovisual dossier. After graduating she started working as a scientific researcher at IBBT-SMIT, doing research on e-government. Currently, she works at the Institute for European Studies (IES) in Brussels. Her research concerns the field of state aid and services of general economic interest. She focuses in particular on the issue of State aid and public service broadcasting, and the dialectics between the European Commission, Member States, private undertakings and public broadcasting organizations in this regard. She has published “Does EU policy challenge the digital future of public service broadcasting” (with Caroline Pauwels, in Convergence, forthcoming). Ana Jorge has graduated in Communication Sciences from Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal) and holds a Master degree in Sociology of Communication, Culture and Information Technologies from ISCTE, on “Advertising and media: from the production to the reception of feminine and masculine lifestyle magazines”. She has worked as a press agent. She


List of Contributors

participated in the research project “The Feminine in Portuguese Press: Representation, Negotiation and Action” and is developing a PhD thesis in Communication and Culture in Universidade Nova de Lisboa, about celebrity culture and new media fandom. Tonny Krijnen specialized in television studies and gender studies. She studied communication science at the University of Amsterdam. After finishing her MA in Media and Audience Studies in 2000, she worked as a lecturer at the Communication Science Department of the University of Amsterdam. In 2001 Tonny Krijnen started her PhD at the Amsterdam School of Communications Research. She finished her dissertation in August 2006 and defended her dissertation There Is More(s) In Television. Studying the relationship between television and moral imagination at the University of Amsterdam (Department of Communication Science) in April 2007. From 2006 till 2007 she worked as lecturer in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. In August 2007 she started as an Assistant Professor in Media Studies at the Faculty of History and Arts of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Tonny Krijnen teaches primarily in the master track 'Media as a Cultural Industry'. Additionally, she functions as vice-chair in the Gender and Communication Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and is affiliated with the Centre of Popular Culture in Amsterdam. Current research interests focus on television (content, production, reception), morality, and emotions. Sabine Lang is Visiting Associate DAAD Professor of Politics at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies of the University of Washington, Seattle. Having finished her studies of political science in Freiburg, New York, and Berlin, she did her doctorate on the “Political Public in the Modern State” (published 2001). She was assistant professor in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the Free University of Berlin and visiting Fellow at the Center of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely, particularly on political public sphere, mass media, and gender studies. In her current research project on mobilizing urban publics, she investigates changes of local publics in German and U.S. cities. Carla Martins is a media analyst in the Portuguese media regulator (ERC–Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social). In parallel, she is a lecturer at Universidade Lusófona. She holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, a Masters degree in Contemporary Philosophy from

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication


Universidade de Coimbra and develops her PhD thesis in the field of Media Studies under the topic “The representation of the feminine public sphere in the Portuguese media”. Carla Martins is author of Hannah Arendt’s Concept of Public Sphere (2005, in Portuguese) and of several book chapters and articles within Political Philosophy and Media and Journalism Studies, such as: “Hannah Arendt: from public sphere to social realm” (2007), “Hannah Arendt: a feminine perspective on public sphere” (2006), “Marcuse: the limits of technological rationality” (2005), “Media Impacts underlying European Union Enlargement. The Portuguese situation” (2006), “Referential normative perspective on journalistic objectivity” (2004/05). Giorgia Nesti holds a PhD in European and Comparative Politics from the University of Siena (Italy) and works as a Researcher in Political Science at the Department of Historical and Political Studies (University of Padova, Italy). Her research interests focus on European Policies for Telecommunication and Information Society, Europeanization and Public Administration. Currently, she works on the relations between citizenship and new technologies (e-democracy, e-government, blogosphere) and on the Europeanization of the media and communication policies of EU member states. She publishes widely in the topics of her interests. Hannu Nieminen is professor of media and communication policy and Director of the Communication Research Centre at the Department of Communication of the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is vice-chair of the Political Communication section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA). He holds a PhD in communication from the University of Westminster, London. His research interests include media and democracy and theories of the public sphere. In 2005–2007 he led the research project “European Public Sphere(s): Uniting and Dividing”, funded by the Academy of Finland. His publications include: Democracy and Communication: Habermas, Williams, and the British Case (1997), Hegemony and the Public Sphere (2000), and People Stood Apart: the Constitution of the National Public Sphere in Finland 1809–1917 (2006, in Finnish). Christina Ortner, Mag. is Doctoral Student (PhD-project: “Old People, their media and a new Europe–The role of media offers for the formation of attitudes towards Europe among old people in Austria”) at the University of Salzburg. She graduated in 2004 with a master thesis on the presentation of migrants in Tatort films, which was published by Tectum.


List of Contributors

Since then she has been working as a Scientific Collaborator in several research projects and as a Lecturer at the Section for Audio-visual and Digital-electronic Communication at the Department of Communication in Salzburg. Her research interests lie on the role of audiovisual and digital media with a focus on television and fictional or entertaining content for people’s everyday life and their construction of meaning within societal communication processes. Ingrid Paus-Hasebrink (Univ.-Prof. Dr. M.A.) is Full Professor for Audiovisual Communication at the Department of Communication and responsible for the programme Audio-visual and Digital-electronic Communication at the University of Salzburg. Her research field in general includes analyses of audio-visual content (television, radio, film, Internet), of genres and formats as well as audience and reception analyses including different aspects of technical convergence related to social and economic aspects of cross-media strategies in a broad sense. Particular interest has been paid to young audiences and to media content targeted to children and young people (recently with the focus on social disadvantaged children), media education, media literacy, and protection of minors in the evolving so-called information society (e.g. an European Research Project – “EU Kids Online”–on the topic of Safer Internet) are a focus of research. Caroline Pauwels is professor at the Free University of Brussels and director of SMIT (Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunications) which is part of the Interdisciplinary Institute for Broadband Technology (IBBT). She lectures on national and European communication policy. Her main domain of competence is in the field of European Audiovisual policy-making, entertainment economy, and convergence and concentration issues in media industries. In 1998 she was appointed to the Flemish Media Council (advisory committee to the minister of Media). In 2007 she was appointed member of the VRT’s Board of Governors. She has published intensively in international books and journals. Jeffrey Wimmer (PhD) is currently lecturer and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Media, Communication & Information (IMKI), University of Bremen (Germany). He is member of the network “Integrative theories in communication science” promoted by the German research foundation (DFG) since the year 2005. He studied sociology, psychology, and political economy. In 1999, he obtained a Diploma in Social Sciences (University Erlangen-Nuernberg) with a dissertation on

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication


the social change of Indian cities and its relationship with the computer industry in India. In 2006, he obtained his PhD with a thesis on the modern public sphere. His primary research interests are the sociology of media communication, international and global communication, and the theories of public and counter-public spheres. He has published several works on public and counterpublic spheres, computer games, and international communication in publications in English and in German.

INDEX activism media 45-47, 52-55, 61 feminist 198-216 advertising 34, 100, 139, 162, 173, 181 alternative media 45-47, 50, 53-54, 59, 6264 public spheres 45-65 Anderson, B. 141 Appadurai, A. 141-142, 153 audience 46, 48, 51, 59, 63-64, 88, 99-100, 102, 106, 118, 135, 138-139, 143-44, 148-150, 181, 183 BBC 170-171, 181, 187 Benhabib, S. 8, 121 Bourdieu, P. 83-84, 100 broadcasting public 10, 30, 178-194 Cammaerts, B. 4, 6-7, 27, 200 Carpentier, N. 4, 10, 27 celebrity 101-109, 138-140, 151 citizenship 76, 115-117, 123, 129130, 136 civil society 1, 4, 6, 21, 47, 159-160, 167, 170-172, 199-216 commercial logic 16 model 139 media 4, 30, 100, 121, 161-166, 170-171, 178, 183, 188-189, 191 commercialization 63-64, 166 communication rights 6, 10, 1636 community

diasporic 3 European 74, 159, 184, 207 imagined 141, 153 international 27 media 6, 170 concentration media 9, 23, 159-174 conflict 2-9, 141, 215 consensus 3-7, 54, 165, 185 conservatism (in the media) 89, 106, 110, 112, 147, 149 constitution (European) 17-21, 47, 50-51, 56, 61, 73, 75, 88, 121, 200, 209, 212 counterpublics 7, 53-54 public spheres 7, 45-65 culture civic 203 counter- 50, 62 everyday 51, 83-84 high 116, 118 journalistic 73, 101 low 118 mass 116, 143 media 135-136, 142, 148, 153 popular 121, 152 cultural citizenship 117, 122 diversity 1-2, 6, 9, 162, 165, 168, 188-189 policy 182, 189 practices 83 representation 28 studies 53, 134, 152 Curran, J. 58 deliberation 76, 120, 199-200 democracy deliberative 75, 24, 75, 199, 214

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication European 3, 10, 35, 167, 178 representative 35 theories of 53, 63 dialogue 21-22, 31-32, 35, 203, 205 diaspora 145 digital age 178-194 media 64, 194 digitalization 16 direct action 6 correspondence 213 disengagement 3, 80 diversity 1-9, 24, 27-28, 45, 5556, 140, 159-169, 188-189 Downey, J. 7, 51 Downing, J. 5, 52, 59-60 Eastern Europe 206 economic integration 17-18, 169 interest 159, 161, 170, 180-194 elections 17-25, 73 electronic communications 36, 166 media 29 email 205-207 engagement civic 3 Enlightenment 117-119 entertainment 4-6, 28, 88, 106, 124, 128, 137-140, 170, 181 ethnicity 111, 134 European Union citizens 22, 22, 26, 74, 76, 95, 204 constitution 17-21, 75, 88 democracy 3, 10, 35, 167, 178 directives 30-36, 159-174, 181, 198, 209 identity 2 institutions 22, 28, 159-160, 198, 205, 214 policy 35, 162, 178, 180


equality ethnic 5 gender 1, 111-112, 198-216 European public sphere 16-36, 73-80, 201-203 feminine 8, 98-113, 115-130, 134154 feminism 98, 134, 141, 148 liberal 109, 113 radical 99, 106 feminist theory 8, 153 Fenton, N. 7, 51 Ferree, M. M. 46, 48, 53, 56, 59, 204 Fraser, N. 50-51, 62, 199-200 Foucault, M. 122, 127, 135-136 free market 29-30 freedom(s) fundamental 3 of expression 27, 139, 158-174 of speech 29 of the press 23, 28 gay 1-5, 105-106, 147-148 gender 1-8, 98-113, 115-130, 134154, 198-216 governance 2-3, 19, 26, 33, 36, 165, 171, 200-204 Green Paper on Pluralism and Concentration in Media Markets 160-167 Habermas, J. 7, 24, 31, 35, 46, 50, 63, 75, 84, 112, 199 Hall, S. 3, 116, 134, 142-143, 152, 160 Hamelink, C. 4, 27, 76 hegemony 152, 166 heterosexuality 47-50, 65 homosexuality 147 Human Rights 3, 27, 29, 161, 209, 212 identity 2-3, 61-63, 104, 106, 112, 135, 149, 153, 215

228 ideology 139 individualization 85 inequality social 75-89, 102 gender 213 information and communication technologies 30 infotainment 5, 124, 128, 136 interaction 47, 123, 142-153, 200, 213 interactive 214 Internet 23, 30, 45, 65, 79, 170, 202, 205 Katz, E. 3, 148 lesbianism 1-2, 105, 108, 147 liberal 16, 161-162, 179, 186, 193194 feminism 109, 113 liberalization 139, 161-162, 179, 181 literacy media 4, 34, 224 media alternative 4, 45-65 concentration 9, 23, 159-174 community 6, 170 commercial 4, 30, 100, 121, 161166, 170-171, 178, 183, 188189, 191 culture 135-136, 142, 148, 153 digital 64, 194 literacy 4, 34, 224 ownership 23, 159-165, 170-172 online 62 pluralism 3-9, 16-31, 158-174 policy 7, 26, 159, 178-194 mediation 6 minorities 1-9 Mouffe, C. 6 movement(s) 1-6, 45, 199-200, 210 neo-fascist 9

Index neo-liberal 16 network social 45 transnational advocacy 198-216 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) 45, 47, 63, 169, 198-216 online forums 6, 106 media 62 opinion formation 199 leaders 47 public 62, 77, 100, 161, 168, 198, 203 ownership media 23, 159-165, 170-172 participation 3-9, 18-27, 49-63, 7578, 102, 110, 135, 149, 158, 164, 170, 188, 198-216 pluralism media 3-9, 16-31, 158-174 political 6 policy European 35, 162, 178-194 media 7, 26, 159, 178-194 public 182-186, 213 political actors 2, 50, 159, 198 campaign 46, 63, 162 conflict 2-9, 141, 215 consensus 3-7, 54, 165, 185 communication 7, 63 disengagement 3, 80 institutions 3 involvement 3 participation 3-9, 18-27, 49-63, 75-78, 102, 110, 135, 149, 158, 164, 170, 188, 198-216 party 25, 29, 63, 115, 124, 167, 194, 202 phenomena 5 public sphere 63 scandal 62, 108

Media Agoras: Democracy, Diversity, and Communication systems 4, 18, 27, 53, 200-201 polity 2 popular culture 121, 152 power 4-9, 17-20, 62, 85, 98-99, 102-109, 122-123, 128, 134-154, 158-174, economic 162 press 98-113 alternative 45 freedom of the 23, 28 popular 98-113 private sphere 102-113, 120, 127129, 146 privatization 170, 179 professional organizations 167, 172 professionalism 64, 101 professionalization 49, 62, 64 public broadcasting 10, 30, 178-194 counter- 7, 53-54 debate 2, 7, 9, 16, 19, 25, 76, 98, 115, 129, 139, 161, 214 deliberation 76, 120, 199-200 media 35-62 opinion 29, 35, 45, 71, 74, 86, 87-88 policy 76, 139 service broadcasting 161, 178194 space 31, 63, 136, 208, 213, 215 sphere 7, 16-36, 45-65, 75-76, 100-113, 129, 146 European public sphere 1636, 73-78, 201-203

radical feminism 99, 106 media 54 reader 99-109, 120, 134-154 referendum 19-20, 73 representation 4-9, 28, 32, 45, 47, 98-112, 134-154, 201, 212 Rorty, R. 8, 118-121 satellite 23, 30 scandal 62, 108 secrecy 33 semiotics 134, 151-152 social classes 99, 132 inequalities 75, 77, 85, 87, 111 movements 45, 199-200, 210 network 45 telecommunications 29-33, 167-171 Television Without Frontiers (TWF) 30, 158-179 transnational advocacy networks 198216 user 64, 83, 166 generated content 4 viewer 84, 121, 170 virtual public spaces 63 voting 20, 139 turnout 3, 17, 20 website 6, 65, 207-208, 212 welfare 7, 85, 141, 179 Williams, R. 116, 133, 150 Zoonen, L. van 8, 101, 117, 122

race 8, 135, 145