Media & language minorities

An exciting conference exploring the state of language minority media in Europe took place at the Renaissance Hotel in Brussels on the 31st of May.  The conference entitled “Media & language minorities” was organized by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland (Svenska kulturfonden).  The conference emphasized the role media plays in shaping the identity of cultural and linguistic minorities and giving people a unique space for practicing their democratic rights. The speakers were renowned experts, professors and decision makers from Sweden, Wales, Catalonia, Finland and Germany, who shared their stories of success and failure, analyzed the changes taking place in mass media and explored the ways new technologies are affecting our lives. The conference was divided into 4 different parts: Public Service Broadcasting, Technical and Legal Challenges for TV without Borders, Changes in Media Behavior and Minority Language Press. During the constructive debates the following questions were posed:

1. How can we increase language loyalty within the minority?

2. How can we get the attention of young people?

3. How can we innovate in order to remain interesting to others?

4. How can we portray people of the minority in a fascinating way?

5. How can we strengthen belief in the future of our minority?

6. How can we keep the media quality high enough in tough economic times?

Looking at the experiences with language minority media in different parts of Europe one could notice that there are huge discrepancies and that a lot of member states are lacking behind in supporting minority media. The negative example of Greece was set forward being one of the few European countries that do not recognize at all the existence of minorities, thus breaching several European and international human rights conventions and agreements.  The main reason for these discrepancies is the fact that minority media does not have legal base and there is no EU budget line referring to it because media in general falls under subsidiarity matters. This means that subsidiarity should be reconsidered. Supporting minority media and securing crossborder broadcasting should be a priority for the EU. Other topics that were discussed during the conference included the recent trends in minority language press, the way young people use media, transnational media co-operation, etc.

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