IRIS Special - Media coverage of elections – the legal framework in Europe

A new report of the series IRIS Special on the media coverage of elections!

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Pages : 119
Place : Strasbourg
Date of publication : July 2017
Editor : European Audiovisual Observatory

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As is well known, political communication in the media plays a central role in the campaigns through which candidates hope to become elected politicians, and such communication goes hand in hand with the concept of freedom of expression and information under consolidated European and national jurisprudence.

How this interplay has developed over the past years is explored in this report, produced in coordination with the Institute of Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam. It provides an overview of the most recent rules, case-law and policies across Europe with regard to the coverage of elections and referenda in the various media. Looking into broadcasting and print media, as well as the online dimension, it gives an insight into the differing degrees of regulation that political communication is experiencing within the different contexts, and shows – maybe quite surprisingly – that broadcast media remain the most regulated ones (as they remain the most influential), and that social media, despite their increased use by “crooked” politicians, remain substantially unregulated.

Link to the press release published on 18 July 2017

Content list

1. Introduction

1.1. Media and elections in selected Council of Europe member states

1.2. Broadcast media and elections

1.3. Print media and elections

1.4. Online media and elections

1.5. Conclusion

2. European law on media and elections

2.1. Introduction

2.1.1. Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 of the ECHR

2.2. Broadcast media and elections

2.2.1. Election-time reporting restrictions

2.2.2. Candidate interviews

2.2.3. Televised election debates

2.2.4. Unequal media coverage of elections

2.2.5. Access to election broadcasts

2.2.6. Political advertising

2.3. Print media and elections

2.3.1. Electoral-law restrictions on print media

2.3.2. Election-time injunctions against print media

2.3.3. Defamation and privacy proceedings during elections

2.4. Online media and elections

2.4.1. Liability for reporting allegations against candidates

2.4.2. Online news media's liability for reader comments

2.5. Conclusion

3. European standards and policy on media and elections

3.1. Introduction

3.2. Council of Europe

3.2.1. Recommendation (1999) on media coverage of election campaigns

3.2.2. Recommendation (2007) on media coverage of election campaigns

3.2.3. Resolution (2017) on online media and journalism

3.2.4. Venice Commission

3.3. European Platform of Regulatory Authorities

3.4. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

3.5. Conclusion

4. DE - Germany - 5. ES – Spain - 6. FR – France - 7. GB - United Kingdom - 8. IE – Ireland - 9. IT – Italy - 10. NL – Netherlands - 11. PL – Poland - 12. RU – Russia


The current regulations

Regulation of broadcast media during elections and referenda

Regulation of print media during elections and referenda

Regulation of online media during elections and referenda

Self-regulatory codes or practices concerning elections and referenda

Recent and emergent issues


13. Country report summary

13.1. Introduction

13.2. Regulation of broadcast media during elections and referenda

13.2.1. General rules on electoral coverage

13.2.2. Political advertising

13.2.3. Silence periods

13.2.4. Opinion polls and exit polls

13.3. Regulation of print media during elections and referenda

13.3.1. Silence periods

13.3.2. Opinion polls and exit polls

13.3.3. Political advertising

13.3.4. “False information”

13.4. Regulation of online media during elections and referenda

13.4.1. Silence periods

13.4.2. Opinion polls and exit polls

13.4.3. Political advertising

13.4.4. Political communication and data protection

13.4.5. “False information”

14. Conclusion

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