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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The EU strikes back - at the media and bloggers

Last week the Irish Times wrote up a Commission briefing note which suggested that the Irish only voted no because they had were tricked by the evil British media.

Well, you didn't expect they could make up their own minds, did you?

The briefing note blamed "A growth in readership and distribution of Eurosceptic British press" for the no vote. It said:

"Since 2002 we have seen an increase in UK with "Irishised" editorial of titles. 41% of all Irish people read one or more of the following; the Irish Sun, Irish News of the World, Sunday Times, People, Irish Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday. These have proven to be significant opinion formers which in general have been more Euro-hostile."

[...]

"While much has been made of the increase of UK tabloids and broadsheets, what has gone mainly unnoticed is the growth in reproduction of foreign news in indigenous Irish titles like the Irish Examiner, Irish Times and Irish Independent. The Irish Independent takes much of its European news from the Daily Telegraph. Despite being the largest national daily title, it no longer has a Brussels based journalist. The main reason for this is the cost cutting that many of the indigenous Irish titles underwent in the early part of the decade. Both the Irish Times and Independent reduced editorial staff numbers. This has created a dependency on outsourcing reporting to UK titles."

The note says "Not only has the editorial been largely critical of Europe" (which isn't true) but also, "it is rumoured that it has been refusing contributions from staff that are pro-Europe" (a likely story).

So much for the Commission staying out of politics and merely providing neutral information. This is a one-sided briefing, designed to make people feel like they were tricked by the Brits.

We rang the Commission's DG communication to ask who had produced it. They said that it was "not an official document" but merely a "routine" note produced by the Commission's representation in Ireland which was meant for "internal" use. They were "surprised" to see it in the Irish Times. That said, they "didn't see anything controversial in it."

This "unofficial document" follows on from the previous misleading note on the commission's private "poll". That was a "leak" too. It seems like the Commission is "leaking" pretty badly. Basically the Commission punts out partisan briefings and then denies responsibility.

Nonetheless, leaving aside the none-too-subtle Brit-whacking, and the Commission's "unofficial" interventions in politics, the most intense criticism in the note is reserved for the evil internet. It warns that:

The internet has allowed increased communication between citizen groups away from Government and traditional media dominated sources.

Gasp!

Blogging is also seen as an anti-establishment activity. Few Yes campaigners came out with forceful counter arguments or were inspired to do so.

Zounds!

Because of the many different sources of No campaigners on the internet, classic rebuttals is made impossible.

Curse those evil uncontrollable bloggers! We need to hit back!



And so they have. Or rather, they're planning to.

The EU has had an issue with the internet for a while now (consistently documented by Richard North) .

Basically they don't like the internet because they can't control it.

So today the European Parliament’s Culture Committee has voted for a report (here is the draft) which proposes that the EU should regulate blogs.

It’s been a big deal in the Swedish blogosphere/media for some time. The final version of the report released today is somewhat watered down and written in vague language, but it appears as if a few potential regulations are proposed. It seems as if the idea is to make blogs subject to similar rules as the print and broadcast media. Proposals seem to include:

-> Making it impossible to blog anonymously, and making significant bloggers declare their interests.

-> Bloggers would be forced to give a right to reply to persons that are criticized in a blog post.

-> Introducing a code of conduct for the private-user-generated content and a system of royalties for such content (similar to the one used in broadcast media if I understand it correctly).

-> Bloggers should be pressed to voluntarily publish their “aims and background.”

The report complained that:

"The undetermined and unindicated status of authors and publishers of weblogs causes uncertainties regarding impartiality, reliability, source protection, applicability of ethical codes and the assignment of liability in the event of lawsuits. It recommends clarification of the legal status of different categories of weblog authors and publishers as well as disclosure of interests and voluntary labelling of weblogs."

The EP will vote on it end of September, according to the Swedish blogger HAX. Commissioners Reading and Wallstrom are said to be working on something similar.

Leaving aside whether it is even possible to do any of these things (hopefully not) the fact that MEPs are prepared to propose it in the first place is terrifying.

The report was initiated by Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko. As Swedish MEP Christopher Fjellner has pointed out, Marianne Mikkos view of journalism makes one think of George Orwell’s book 1984.

Which sort of makes sense, given that Mikko does have a degree in journalism from the Soviet Union - from 1984.

Enough said.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have I got this right? The European Commission permits its employees to leak anonymously to the mainstream press but anonymous bloggers, meanwhile, cannot criticise such a practice or the EU itself?

That's hypocrisy, innit?

* waves at Margot and promises her 5 euros if she can track me down *

Open Europe blog team said...

A fair point

Syd Thomson (Scotland for the benefit of the EC) said...

This is typical of the usual mound of manure spouted forth from those upright, truthful, honest members of the europeen Commission. Talk about Big brother ?? This is worse than communism!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It makes me marvel at the arrogance of these mep's (muppets), how do they expect anyone to vote for and follow in their example when they would seemingly be the most secretive, arrogant and untrustworthy bunch of try-hards known to man?
There's a long standing tradition of 'not trusting a politician' (do you reckon muppets can even trust one another?), can anyone muster up a guess why this may be?
Let's open another commision to analyse it. I propose 200 high ranking officianados on full 2-year expenses will uncover the appropriate answer...
---
Let people give their name, let the muppets know who criticises them. They currently only suspect one person named A. Nonymous to be responsible and they're having trouble hunting him down!

HURRAH for europe, the new Commu-Socialist land!

Be careful though, petty playground name calling may lead to persecution!

---

eu Planks!!

Philip Hammond.


p.s. Is this a blog??

Anonymous said...

Now it's time to speak up. Bloggers unite!

Vote YES to Free Europe at www.FreeEurope.info (as long as this is still possible without permission from the EU)

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to freedom of speech - " I do not support what you say but I support your right to say it"

Anonymous said...

I'm Spartacus!

Anonymous said...

This is yet another example of highly dangerous political arrogence.Where is it going to end?Labour camps (or prison) for those who dare to point out the rampant corruption and arrogance within the EU executive to which the U.K.is a very large nett contributer.
PS I expect this will be cencored.

Anonymous said...

Its all about information that equals power which ultimately leads to control.
Once they know who said it they can use the unlimited power of the state to discredit it.
You will be controlled weather you like it or not.
What a truly frightening path we are on.

Anonymous said...

And this statement comes from an organisation that hasn't audited it accounts for 13 years and which the UK pay millions/billions to each year. Is this not the height of corruption?
And what about the media blackout of Elizabeth Beckett, the 84 year old pensioner who decided not to pay her council tax as it was going to the EU thus funding a foreign power to dismantle British sovereignty which is under British Constitutional law a treasonous act.

R. Hartman said...

Keyword: Critical Theory

Chalcedon said...

You will note that all these people pushing for regulation are socialists. Bloggers will not comply with any form of censorship or accreditation nonsense. These eurocreatures are frightened of free speech. Make sure your blogs are on servers based in the US if these evil eurocrats get their way. Free speech is protected by the US constitution. I wonder what the wonderful Lisbon treaty/constitution says about it?

Anonymous said...

So let me get this right.

The Irish are too thick to think for themselves and are swayed by the Brits.
The rest of us are too thick to think for ourselves and therefore need 'regulating' to ensure we are 'on message'.

Anonymous said...

Pro-Europeans like my father have become muted & demoralised by the reaction of politicians like British MEP Richard Corbett towards the Irish no vote and the refusal of a referendum in Britain. I want politics to develop into Direct Democracy where the people can use modern technology to vote directly on Bills in Parliament, this would only be possible if we leave the EU. The way things are going this is only a matter of time, in fact it could be next year. If after next years European Elections a majority of British MEP’s come from UKIP then we should at least have a referendum on Europe, if not then that is the end of democracy in the EU and therefore people should be prepared to fight for freedom. This would mean being prepared to kill Pro-Europeans who oppose democracy. All my family will vote to get Britain out of the EU and my mother thinks she could even get my father to vote UKIP next year. Pro-Europeans are loosing there naivety towards the EU and this repression of free speech will help, they would not be prepared to fight for a European Union that clearly opposes democratic referendums or elections. But I suspect that the EU could stoke up a useful crisis as an excuse to cancel next year’s elections or more likely, deliberately cause trouble for UKIP. I am not a UKIP supporter. Once Britain has left the EU; UKIP will have done its patriotic duty, served its democratic purpose, and should then disband. We can then give maximum democratic value to our vote towards Labour or Liberal or Conservative or any other party on issues such as Direct Democracy.

Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable... the arrogance of these eurocrats has no limit !
My grandfather took part in the french resistance during WWII. I am ready to do the same against this new euro-tyranny.
...and thanks to the irish and brits for their fights in this...

John.K.Lund1941 said...

We have seen the fall of the Soviet Bloc and we have witnessed the totally voluntary march of the European masses unfettered into this new form of slavery which is a a self perpetuating oligarchy and if one of their number fails to get re-elected put him into some cosy sinecure. What did our parents and grandparents fight two world wars for.

Anonymous said...

Dosen't British law required any printed leaflet or booklet to have a printers' 'imprint'? So either let people pubish by any media anonymously or make the rules the same for everyone. Are blogs covered by British election law.

Anonymous said...

Who has drawn this picture of 1984? It's so cool! I would like to have the makers e-mail, if it is anyone on this page who know who it is?

Open Europe blog team said...

ah... sorry, no idea, we just grabbed it off the web - the person who found it no longer works with us

Beness said...

It's obvious that they are scared of people comming together. wether it be in pubs (ban smokers) on the streets (illegal gatherings) or on bloggs and message boards.

They simply are not comfotable with people being able to organise themselves with a view to breaking up their happy and very profitable club.