Europäische Sender weisen auf negative Konsequenzen geplanter Budgetkürzungen beim Dänischen Rundfunk hin

Wien (OTS) - Die Finanzierung des öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks in Dänemark, Danmarks Radio (DR), wird derzeit in Dänemark diskutiert:
Im Raum stehen die Abschaffung der Rundfunkgebühren und deren Ersatz durch eine staatliche Finanzierung aus dem Budget. Gleichzeitig sollen die Mittel für den öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunk um 25 Prozent gekürzt werden, wie dänische Medien berichten. In einer gemeinsamen Erklärung weisen nun zahlreiche europäische öffentlich-rechtliche Sender auf die weitreichenden negativen Konsequenzen hin, die entsprechende Kürzungen mit sich bringen. In Zeiten von Fake News kommt gerade unabhängiger öffentlich-rechtlicher Information immer größere Bedeutung zu und sollte daher nicht infrage gestellt werden.

„Public-Service-Medien veröffentlichen mehr Nachrichten-Content als vergleichbare Kommerzielle; sie steigern das politische Wissen der Bürger/innen und haben positiven Einfluss auf die politische Teilhabe“, zitieren die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender in ihrem offenen Brief den Reuters-Report. „In einer Zeit zunehmender Polarisierung und Entfremdung zwischen den verschiedenen gesellschaftlichen Gruppen kann die Bedeutung von gut funktionierenden und vertrauenswürdigen öffentlichen Medien, Seite an Seite mit hochqualitativen kommerziellen Medien, kaum klarer dargelegt werden“, so die Erklärung weiter.

Neben der BBC, Großbritannien, NPO, Niederlande, NRK, Norwegen, RUV, Island, SR, SVT und UR aus Schweden, SRG SSR, Schweiz und dem WDR aus Deutschland unterstützt auch der ORF diese Initiative.

Die Erklärung der öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender im Wortlaut:

Public service broadcasting under threat

Threats to the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) will have significant and far-reaching consequences. This is the message in an open letter from the Directors-General of some of Europe’s most renowned public service broadcasters.

Over the last few days we have been reached by deeply worrying signals from Denmark. During the Autumn the Danish government has held negotiations with the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) over a major tax reform. Discussions are ongoing over whether to abolish the licence fee that funds Denmark’s public service broadcaster, DR, and to replace it with a tax. The Danish People’s Party – whose politicians have, on occasion, claimed DR to be “a democratic threat” – have added an additional demand: to cut DR’s budget by 25 per cent.

According to Danish media reports, the Danish government was trying initially to limit cuts to 12.5 per cent. The negotiations are ongoing and the risk that the cuts end up being much more severe cannot be dismissed.

What values are at stake in the negotiations underway between the Danish politicians? What values are at stake when other European governments either cut budgets for public service broadcasting or increase their control over journalism through draconian legislation?

According to a report published in November 2016 by the Reuters Institute at Oxford University, and commissioned by the Danish Department of Culture, the cultural and democratic impact of public service content is significant. Public service broadcasters publish more news content than comparable commercial media; they increase citizens’ knowledge of politics, and have a positive impact on political participation.

In an era of increased polarisation and greater alienation between different groups in society, the importance of well-functioning, trusted public service broadcasters, side-by-side with high quality commercial media, can hardly be stated too clearly. The pressure that democracy is under when both fake news and news produced to suit a particular political agenda gain ground is likely to have a much greater impact than we have seen so far.

The response from liberal democracy cannot be to diminish media organisations with a remit from the public, and that enjoy an incredibly high level of public trust built up over decades. The only beneficiaries would be forces for which it is less than self-evident that free and independent journalism are a foundation of democracy. We read with concern an interview with Henrik Söndergaard, a Danish researcher at the University of Copenhagen. In the interview with the Danish newspaper Politiken, Söndergaard underlined that “the risk of political interference is clearly present”.

It is also important to put the Danish developments in a broader perspective. Danish democracy is, of course, not necessarily in direct and imminent danger. But free and independent journalism around the world is under greater pressure than it has been for a long time. The causes are numerous: an increasingly polarised political landscape and tough economic pressure from multinational players has weakened the development and stability of many high quality media organisations. Increasingly authoritarian regimes in some parts of Europe have made public service broadcasters subject to comprehensive changes. For the time being two of the most troublesome cases are Hungary and Poland. It is no coincidence that both countries have plunged down the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index in recent years.

One thing is absolutely obvious: if the plans to drastically diminish DR’s ability to operate as a public service broadcaster are implemented, they will have significant and far-reaching consequences. The choice that Danish politicians must make when it comes to public service broadcasting can be seen in many other countries around Europe: Whether to cut budgets and increase the risk of political control; or to secure long-term funding and build up greater and more effective safeguards for the independence and stability of public service broadcasting. That the latter would promote democracy hardly needs to be pointed out.

Tony Hall Magnús Geir Þórðarson Director General, BBC, UK Director General, RÚV, Iceland Shula Rijxman Cilla Benkö Director General, NPO, Holland Director General, SR, Sweden Thor Gjermund Eriksen Hanna Stjärne Director General, NRK, Norway Director General, SVT, Sweden Dr. Alexander Wrabetz Per Bergkrantz Director General, ORF, Austria Acting Director General, UR, Sweden Gilles Marchand Tom Buhrow Director General, SRG SSR, Director General, WDR, Germany Switzerland

Die Erklärung steht auch auf der Website der.ORF.at zum Download zur Verfügung.

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