Across Europe, attacks on public service broadcasting are eroding democracy

  • Like thousands of employees of France Télévisions and other public broadcasters are set to strike on June 28, UNI Global Union calls for sustainable funding to save public service broadcasting in France and beyond
  • Public service broadcasting is vital for free and independent media, cultural diversity and community representation
  • Workers at public broadcaster VRT in Belgium went on strike last month, while British unions also fought against cuts and privatization. Meanwhile, public broadcasters in Hungary and Poland lost most of their editorial freedom.

Tomorrow, June 28, the same day as the first session of the newly elected French National Assembly, workers at France Télévisions and other public broadcasters will go on strike to defend the economic and political independence of service broadcasting. public and its role in French life and culture and democracy. The strike is one of many examples of unions defending public broadcasting against the severe cuts of recent months.

The walkout follows President Macron’s proposal to scrap the €139-a-year audiovisual license fee for public service broadcasting, leaving a €3.7 billion funding hole. Unions, including UNI Global Union affiliates CGT, CFDT and FO, will march to the French parliament to demand sustainable funding for public service broadcasting which includes France Télévisions, Radio France, France Médias Monde, INA and ARTE.

William Maunier, general secretary of the French union SNRT-CGT Audiovisuel and president of the European sector of UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts (MEI), said:

“The public broadcaster not only employs tens of thousands of people in the audiovisual sector in France but also orders a large majority of films and programs made by independent producers. But it’s not just a question of jobs or funding, it’s a question of maintaining the independence of the French media, it’s a question of plurality of programming and it’s a question of cultural diversity. Public broadcasting is at the service of all parts of society and that is what we are fighting for.

What is happening in France is part of a broader context tendency of governments to try to defund or dismantle public broadcasting in Europe.

For example, at the end of May, three Belgian trade unions joined forces to strike against proposals by the Flemish government to further cut funding for VRT, a popular and successful public service broadcaster. Additionally, in the UK unions are uniting to oppose plans to privatize Channel 4 – and the government has also expressed a desire to change the license fee model – but has so far failed to find alternative.

Bectu manager Philippa Childs said:

“The freezing and later abolition of BBC license fees will require huge cuts – hitting jobs, regional economies and ultimately the content Britons know and love. The privatization of Channel 4 will deal a major blow to the thriving independent production sector in the UK and to the thought-provoking and thought-provoking content that UK audiences enjoy.

“These attacks are an act of cultural vandalism and Bectu will not let these attacks on public property, and the innovative creative content they generate and the tens of thousands of jobs they create, go unchallenged.”

Public broadcasting is particularly exposed to attacks from right-wing governments, as seen in Hungary and Poland – where public broadcasters have lost most of their editorial freedom. After years of persistent budget cuts under a right-wing populist government, Slovenian trade unions are fighting to maintain independent and quality journalism at national broadcaster RTV.

Johannes Studinger, Head of UNI Media, Entertainment & Arts, said:

“In several countries, there is pressure to reduce public broadcasting, which is seen as a thorn in the side of government policies. Then we see the danger of funding being used to discipline or limit the role of public service broadcasters.

“Undermining public broadcasting reduces civic space for everyone. License fees give public broadcasters the freedom to fulfill their mission of supporting communities and cultural diversity, as well as providing quality, reliable and unbiased reporting, which is especially important at a time of rising nationalism. and fake news.

UNI Global Union and its 500,000 members from the media, entertainment and arts sector around the world have shown their solidarity with the strikers in France. See the statement.

UNI Global Union represents 20 million service sector workers worldwide, including over 140 unions and 500,000 media, entertainment and arts workers.

Follow the strike action on #TouchePasAuxMediasPublics. Sign the petition: