DO WE NEED PAN-EUROPEAN MEDIA?
Europe can be defined and its countries linked together in several ways and its borders aren’t completely clear. Geography and history join us and with the start of the EU also political and more defined economical reasons. Several areas of Europe share a similar culture. But there are as many (or maybe even more) differences as similarities. E.g. Switzerland is not part of the EU, but part of Europe and inside the country itself there are 4 languages and at least as many cultures. So how could a big area like Europe have something in common if it’s not even possible in a small country like Switzerland? Media is traditionally a strong part of culture: The culture media is produced in defines its characteristics and simultaneously the media influences the culture. Regional or national radio and television seem to be a very important tool to define identity and culture. In the EU the focus lies more on economics than on building a common culture and identity. But for the EU to be accepted and therefore to function a bonding element has to exist. A shared culture and value community must be created (cf. Habermas:2001:4) and pan-European media could play a crucial role in that. It might show people living in a wide, diverse area called “Europe” that this region could be a community that actually exists and is not only machinery publishing policies and dealing with economy. The shared currency, the Euro, could have been and maybe is a step into that direction but not every EU country has the Euro (e.g. Sweden, UK) and not every country in the European area is a member of the EU (e.g. Norway, Switzerland).Commercial media companies already walk the way towards pan-European companies and media. (cf. IBM News) Why would they do it if they wouldn’t see profit in it? So even if former projects like Eurikon (cf. Euronews) have failed in the 1980’ies it seems to be worth to invest in pan-European Media both from an economical and cultural point of view. It is a challenge for national protectionism as well as for cultural and social diversity but building a community has involved the same challenges for ages. The key argument here is offered by Habermas:
“A nation of citizens must not be confused with a community of fate shaped by common descent, language and history. This confusion fails to capture the voluntaristic character of a civic nation, the collective identity of which exists neither independent of nor prior to the democratic process from which it springs […]the fact that democratic citizenship establishes an abstract, legally mediated solidarity between strangers. Historically, national consciousness as the first modern form of social integration was fostered by new forms of communication […] National consciousness emerged as much from the mass communication of formally educated readers as from the mobilization of enfranchised voters and drafted soldiers[…]this generation [is] of a highly artificial kind of civic solidarity[…] the artificial conditions in which national consciousness came into existence recall the empirical circumstances necessary for an extension of that process of identityformation beyond national boundaries. These are: the emergence of a European civil society; the construction of a European-wide public sphere; and the shaping of a political culture that can be shared by all European citizens “(Habermas:2001:12)
He accents that an important point is to preserve the democratic achievements of the European nation-state in the new “state” called “Europe”. (Habermas: 2001: 2) Habermas mentions also that Europeans should have an interest in getting their voices heard since the strongest voices at the moment are countries many times the size of a singular European country: USA, China, India etc. A united European voice has more weight in these discussions and pan-European media might be a way to strengthen this voice. (cf. Habermas:2001:8) To sum up, the above mentioned public sphere and the “getting your voice heard” could be created by pan-European media. The public sphere is a sphere crucial for a community of any kind and media plays a main role in this sphere. “What should be focused on are the social relations that they [the media practices] mediate; the media could be regarded as a multi-vocal discursive forum where social relations and identities are continuously negotiated, reformulated and contested.” (Koivisto& Väliverronen:1996:31) The public sphere is also a platform where the leading groups of the political and economical processes and the citizens can communicate and relate and where societal problems can be pointed out and be discussed. (cf. Habermas:2001:13, 15 and Hallin&Mancini:2004:78) So for a functioning public sphere and society media is compulsory. (cf. Harrison&Woods :2001:480) The expansion of regulated and involved areas is nothing new. Media and communication are already increasingly regulated in wider areas: In Europe through the EU and globally through WTO, ICANN and ITU. So why not create a new tradition with pan-European media? The technology already is spread on a global level due to digitalisation and convergence. Why not use content to help create a shared European culture with similar core values? The European policy-makers them selves agree that media does have an impact and could play an active role in “fostering pluralism, exercising freedom of expression, shaping perceptions and views. The broadcast media are regarded by European policy-makers as tools or vehicles for development and change.” (Harrison&Woods :2001:480) All the European countries have own characteristics in their media landscapes, but there are as well common ones that are shared (e.g. commercialisation, audience fragmentation, convergence). (cf. Terzis:2008:2) Pan-European media might raise attention to both points and new, creative solutions for problems might be found by looking at one country, working together and shared knowledge about each other might strengthen bonds. As Bardoel notes, there is a “social responsibility theory of the press” which defines media as public trust. (cf. Bardoel:2008: 42) All these points lead to the conclusion that media could and should play a central part in defining a shared European culture with core values. And this is a necessary basis for being able to compete successful in the global market. Therefore not only Europe-idealists should recognize the benefits of this scenario but also political and economic parties: Pan- European media could be a way to create a pan-European nation state.
- Quote paper
- Nina Ratavaara (Author), 2009, Do we need pan-European Media?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/178930