Ethical Principles to be Adopted by European Public Broadcasters

hanslaroesAidan White

The European Broadcasting Union, a member of the Ethical Journalism Network, is putting ethical standards and good governance on the agenda of Europe’s public media.  On December 6-7 at the EBU’s General Assembly in Strasbourg, national broadcasters from across Europe will endorse a set of Editorial Principles which aims to strengthen professionalism across the public broadcasting sector.

The action is a ground-breaking move because although many of Europe’s leading state broadcasters already have their own agreed and detailed standards defining editorial ethics, many others do not and now the EBU hopes it will be able to establish a baseline for building editorial independence and respect for ethical values within its active membership which covers almost 120 national broadcasters.

The principles are the result of an internal discussion following the adoption of a ‘Declaration on Public Service Media Values’ at a meeting of EBU members earlier this year.

The principles require all public service media staff to be impartial and independent; to be fair and respectful; to be accurate and relevant, and to be connected and accountable.

Leading this project has been Hans Laroes, the former Editor in Chief of NOS News, the public broadcaster in the Netherlands. He says that it is a response to a demand from leading EBU members that the organisation should take a lead in promoting professional values and ethics.

It’s an initiative that highlights once again how issues of standards and good governance are creeping up the media agenda in response to the challenge of media convergence and the information chaos that is seen across the online landscape.

“These Principles outline professional standards that upstanding public service media ought to abide by,” says Laroes. He’s right, of course, but the very fact that they are on the agenda shows that in some corners of the public broadcasting sector standards have been slipping.


Photo Credit: Hans Laroes (Dagelijkse Standaard)