Pillar 2 – Media regulation and political pressures

Dr Peter Bajomi-Lazar

The project’s second area of research tests the hypothesis that poor regulatory framework design can explain the lack of media freedom and the media’s poor democratic performance in Central and Eastern Europe over the last twenty years. Emerging post-Communist elites in much of the region have, it has been argued, effectively used regulation to curtail media freedom, despite apparently praising media freedom as a fundamental tenet of democracy.

Our research therefore focuses on media regulation in the ten Central and Eastern European countries, and particularly on two areas of media policy:

  • the institutions providing free access to information (constitutional guarantees, media pluralism rules, and state assistance with the development of new technologies); and
  • the institutions guaranteeing editorial autonomy (the funding and regulation of public broadcasters, the composition and powers of media regulatory authorities, and labour regulation).

We are also contrasting regulation in these countries with:

  • normative expectations of media policy (to be found in the academic literature and in the European Union’s policy recommendations); and
  • established practice in a western European democracy such as Sweden (selected for its long-standing tradition of press freedom, efficient regulatory framework, and permanent high ranking in press freedom surveys).

Our ultimate objective is to identify those regulatory solutions which obstruct and/or improve media freedom and media performance in Central and Eastern Europe, as part of the project’s wider investigation of the kind of democracy which is needed for the media to perform their agreed-upon normative functions.