9 June 1995

Doc. 7322


on migrants, ethnic minorities and media

(Rapporteurs: Mrs AGUIAR,

Portugal, Liberal, Democratic and Reformers' Group,


Spain, Group of the Unified European Left)


      Media coverage of migrant and ethnic-minority matters significantly influences public opinion. Migrants and ethnic minorities are entitled to balanced, unprejudiced media coverage, which is important to developing closer-knit multicultural societies and winning the war on racism and xenophobia. The media also have a key part to play in giving migrants and ethnic minorities a voice, informing them and helping them to adapt.

      Member states are asked to improve migrant and ethnic-minority access to the media and, while respecting freedom of media expression, to promote greater awareness, among those working in media, of the ethical issues which media coverage raises in the areas under discussion. The Assembly likewise calls on member states to recognise and protect the right of migrants and ethnic minorities to self-expression and to information.

I. Draft recommendation

1.       Immigration and the presence of ethnic minorities are integral parts of the European identity. Large communities of immigrant origin have now settled permanently in our societies and contribute to their wealth and diversity.

2.       Media presentation of subjects connected with immigrants and ethnic minorities has a significant influence on public opinion. Although the media constitute an important means of combating racist and xenophobic views, prejudices and preconceived ideas, they can also have a role in the emergence or strengthening of such views.

3.       Migrants and ethnic minorities are entitled to be portrayed comprehensively and impartially in the media. This is a pre-condition if all citizens are to take a more rational view of immigration and multi-culturalism and accept persons of immigrant origin or members of ethnic minorities as their equals. An objective image can primarily be achieved through a responsible approach by media professionals and improved media access for migrants and ethnic minorities on all levels. The Assembly considers it of prime importance that the media and the competent authorities should do their utmost to attain these objectives.

4.       The media are also an important means of informing migrants about their host country, its culture and its language and contribute to forging links between them and the host society. They likewise allow migrants to keep in touch with their country of origin and give them a means of expression and of communication with members of their community.

5.       The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.       through the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe, encourage media professionals' associations to prepare, insofar as they have not already done so, codes of conduct laying down the ethical principles that should guide the work of these professionals;

ii.       provide institutional and financial backing for the creation of a pan-European prize to be awarded annually to media professionals or organs which have distinguished themselves in the fight against intolerance and racism, for exemple by giving an objective and balanced picture of migrants or ethnic minorities;

iii.       instruct the European Committee against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) to pay particular attention to member states' legislation and policy for combating racism and intolerance in the media;

iv.       invite the member states:

      a. to enforce vigorously the legislation prohibiting incitement to racism and fascism in the media or, where applicable, to enact or reinforce such legislation;

      b. to further the education and labour market access of persons belonging to immigrant communities or ethnic minorities;

      c. to establish, in co-operation with the media industry, teaching and training programmes designed for persons of immigrant origin or belonging to ethnic minorities so as to give them a genuine chance of a career in the various media sectors;

      d. to encourage the organisation of seminars and training courses for media professionals on the subject of intercultural education, and the teaching, in journalism schools, of questions of ethics relating to the problem of intolerance;

      e. to evaluate the quality of media output on migrant and ethnic-minority matters from time to time and award prizes to outstanding examples of media coverage of this area;

      f. to encourage both public and private media to play a responsible role in combatting racism and xenophobia through objective coverage of migrant and ethnic minority issues and the provision of opportunities for the balanced involvement of representatives of migrant and ethnic communities in mainstream radio and television programmes;

      g. to ensure that official public relations services provides full, unbiased information on subjects connected with migrants and ethnic minorities;

      h. to assist the production and broadcasting of programmes on intercommunity relations and immigration, including programmes in migrants' own languages;

      i. to encourage action by local media to improve migrant integration into and participation in the local community;

      j. to promote, through the "Eurimages" Fund and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, the co-production of films with producers from immigrant communities' countries of origin, including films dealing with migrants and ethnic minorities;

      k. to ratify, if this has not already been done, the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

II. Explanatory memorandum


Contents       Page

1.       Introduction       5

2.       What the media can contribute to harmonious coexistence

      and the establishment of a multicultural society       6

      2.1       Migrants' image       6

      2.2       Media output concerning migrants and ethnic minorities       7

      2.3       Media access for migrants and ethnic minorities       7

      2.4       Training journalists and other media practitioners       8

      2.5       Role of the media in combating racism and intolerance       9

      2.6       The role of the authorities       10

      2.7       Respect for media freedom of expression and commercial

      nature of the media       10

3.       The media as mouthpiece, information source and adjustment

      aid for migrants and ethnic minorities       11

      3.1       General points       11

      3.2       Media output specifically concerned with migrants       11

      3.3       Information from migrants' countries of origin       12

4.       Council of Europe initiatives       13

      4.1       Action by the Parliamentary Assembly       13

      4.1.1       Recommendations adopted by the Assembly       13

      4.1.2       European Television and Immigration (Paris, 11-14 June 1992)       13

      4.1.3       Hearing on migrants, ethnic minorities and the media

      (London, 15 March 1995)       14

      4.2       Intergovernmental activities       14

      4.3       Council of Europe Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia,

      anti-Semitism and intolerance       15

5.       Conclusions       15

1. Introduction

1.       Immigration and the presence of ethnic minorities have always been a feature of Europe. On the one hand migrants and ethnic minorities have brought diversity to our societies. On the other the integration process has provided continual stimulus and enrichment both to the dominant culture and to migrant and ethnic-minority culture. But the upsurge of nationalism and of outright racism and xenophobia, against a background of economic difficulty and, in particular, rising unemployment, is posing a risk to integration and acceptance of migrants and ethnic minorities.

2.       The way in which the public perceives immigrants is strongly influenced by the message conveyed by the media. Few people have an opportunity to gain real knowledge of migrants' way of life; this ignorance is the result of socio-economic exclusion of a great part of the immigrant community and, often, deliberate discrimination on the part of the national community. The latter's opinion therefore depends on information supplied by the media, which thus help to shape the way in which immigrants and ethnic minorities are perceived.

3.       As a rule, migrants have little access to the media, which are important guarantors of freedom of expression. Because they are socially and economically underprivileged, carry little economic weight and are under-represented in the upper strata of society, immigrants are rarely able to influence the content of information concerning them provided by others, and even more rarely to provide information themselves.

4.       The media also have a very important role to play in giving migrants the means of self-expression, providing them with information and helping them to adjust. They offer a unique means of providing migrants with information on the host country and helping them to integrate socially, while also helping them to preserve and develop their mother tongues and home cultures.

5.       It should be stated at the outset that the report will deal with the relationship between the media and immigrant communities in Europe, and including long established immigrant communities: for although "immigrant" is no longer quite the right word for those of immigrant background born and educated in the country of residence and possibly possessing its nationality, such people are often faced with much the same prejudice as first-generation immigrants, prejudice aroused by their ethnic origin or their religious or family links to immigrant circles. However, issues relating to national minorities traditionally residing on the territory of European states lie outside the scope of the report.

6.       Since the terminology applied to immigrant communities varies from country to country, often reflecting national policies in this area, the rapporteurs stress that, as used in this report, the terms "migrants", "immigrants", "foreigners", "ethnic minorities", "foreign communities", "guest workers", etc. have no legal or political overtones, but simply denote the full range of immigrant communities.

2. What the media can contribute to harmonious co-existence

and the establishment of a multicultural society

2.1.       Migrants' image

7.       As already pointed out, public opinion is strongly influenced by the media approach to reporting on migrants, ethnic minorities and community relations. Migrants and ethnic minorities have the right to be depicted by the media in a balanced, unprejudiced way. The majority community, too, needs this balanced portrayal so that its handling of immigration and integration is objective and considered and to enable it to treat minorities as its equals: combating racism and xenophobia protects the whole of society, democracy and human rights and not just the rights of those directly concerned. People working in media need to be aware of this responsibility they carry.

8.       The fact is, however, that, in portraying migrants and ethnic minorities the media often stress the differences between the majority and migrant communities rather than the things they have in common. There is negative stereotyping, and no mention is made of migrants' contribution to the economy. It is not at all uncommon for the emphasis to be on the problems caused by the presence of immigrants and ethnic minorities, or on very narrow topics such as cuisine, sport or tourism. The press, radio and television tend to dramatise immigration problems and to dwell on tensions between ethnic communities.

9.       Since the overall picture of migrants and ethnic minorities tends to be negative, or at least not in balance, reports on more sensational matters such as crime, drugs, poverty and undeclared labour readily arouse prejudice and xenophobia, particularly when national, ethnic or cultural origin are referred to with no explanation of the relevance of that information to the news item. Even where an explanation is given, it often involves a misinterpretation of, say, cultural influence. Clearly, for example, the suggestion that Islam allows Muslims to beat their wives adversely affects how Muslims are perceived. This type of reporting causes serious damage to the entire immigrant community or minority by lending them an adverse image or quite simply categorising them among the problem sections of society.

10.       There is also a lack of information about Europe's colonial past and how colonial policy has affected the present situation in former colonies. If the media provided more information on the subject, people would have a better grasp of the reasons for immigration. Similarly the fact that, in the days of powerful economic growth, there was organised immigration to remedy labour shortages in some European countries deserves a place in the overall picture.

11.       Some migrant groups also suffer as a result of their country's or their religion's reputation. This is usually due to ignorance of the real facts or to confusing religion and the policies which some countries of origin practise. Islam is a case in point: frequent reports and pictures of fundamentalist violence make people suspect all Muslims of these tendencies, even though fundamentalism is only one interpretation of Islam and the Islam of Muslims settled in Europe is in no way comparable with the fundamentalism of some Arab countries.

12.       However, not all migrants are affected by prejudice in the same way. As European integration advances, nationals from other European Union countries are thought of less and less as immigrants. There are also highly qualified migrants, many of them working for multinational companies, who are generally accepted and "blend in" with the rest of the population. "Famous" foreigners, such as sportsmen, also have a certain kudos and so escape stereotyping (although those of them from a different ethnic background are also subjected to racial attack, such as the racist chants of right wing extremist groups at sports events). Thus the reporting that arouses adverse feeling mainly affects the unskilled and those whose ethnic origins or religious beliefs differ from the host community's.

13.       Creating a climate that allows a fair and balanced portrayal of migrants and ethnic minorities is a long and complicated process, and the authorities on all levels, media professionals, the representatives of minorities and migrants, NGOs and the general public must all join in it. The remaining parts of this chapter will try to suggest measures which can be taken in this area.

2.2       Media production concerning migrants and ethnic minorities

14.       Practically all the media deal with migrants, but a distinction needs to be made between media material aimed at a general audience and material specifically catering for migrant communities. For the sake of clarity, the latter will be discussed in Chapter II (dealing with migrants' means of expression and information).

15.       As far as the general media are concerned, the majority community mainly gets its picture of the lives which migrants lead from "News in brief" or "Other news" in the press or on television. As well as appealing to the responsibility and professionalism of journalists and reporters working in this area (see section 2.3), it is necessary to make extensive use of other media genres in presenting material on migrants and ethnic minorities, provided, of course, that the picture is a balanced one. Documentaries and articles on migrants' countries of origin, cultures, customs and religions are one means of doing this, feature-length films another. They should receive support, including financial assistance, from the authorities. Without interfering with editorial independence, encouragement should be given to national television channels to show more films from immigrants' countries of origin and co-productions with those countries should be promoted.

16.       In film-making, the Council of Europe's Eurimages Fund and the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production, which are both intended to promote the expression of cultural diversity, are suitable means of encouraging European co-production of films dealing with migrants and ethnic minorities. We urge member states to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible.

2.3.       Media access for migrants and ethnic minorities

17.       Enabling more migrants and members of ethnic minorities to enter the media, and in positions that carry the same responsibility as those held by members of the majority community, is a prerequisite for more balanced media coverage. Having more influence over the media also allows migrants and minorities to bring to the fore subjects they consider sufficiently important to warrant public discussion.

18.       Giving migrants more access to the media is closely connected with eliminating any obstacles to their getting an education and entering the labour market. The example set by some European countries, which provide professional media training for people from immigrant communities, should be copied. It is vital that these courses be organised in co-operation with the media industry, since experience shows that, without its support, graduates stand little chance of finding jobs to match their training.

19.       The approaches in trying to give immigrants and ethnic minorities entry into the media differ from one country to another. As a general rule their involvement should encompass all sectors, including management, administration and, for that matter, recruitment and promotion panels. They must be able to work on an equal footing with nationals and to have a hand in a range of output, not just output relating to immigration and immigrants.

20.       Following existing examples, European countries should likewise consider setting up bodies (for example, programme advisory councils) for consultation with migrant and ethnic-minority representatives on programme type and content.

21.       Television offers further opportunities for migrant involvement in programme-making. Involvement in the making of programmes aimed at a mass audience would reflect the image of a multicultural society and imprint it on the public mind. The on-screen presence of people of other ethnic origins - presenters, actors or just participants -is one excellent example, as is the production of films and programmes which incorporate a "foreign" aspect without drawing attention to it as such. In all the media genres, portraying migrants and ethnic minorities as ordinary people of the country they live in is of the utmost importance.

2.4.       Training journalists and other media practitioners

22.       Unobjective coverage of migrant matters is often due to media practitioners' personal attitudes and opinions. Like everyone else, people in media are influenced by the climate and culture of the dominant society, which bear traces of various prejudices.

23.       Nevertheless, we are in no way accusing those who work in the media of being racists or xenophobes. On the contrary, we are convinced of the good will of most of them and we believe that what they need is information and assistance so that they can themselves review the way they cover migrant and ethnic-minority matters.

24.       It is vital to continue encouraging associations of journalists to adopt, in co-operation with in particular the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), codes of ethics to govern press treatment of issues concerning migrants and ethnic minorities. It is precisely because freedom of the press and the prohibition of racial discrimination are both fundamental values enshrined in the legislation of the democratic countries that the former must not be protected at the latter's expense.

25.       It should be pointed out that the IFJ was very quick to realise the importance of these issues. In its 1954 Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists it stated that journalists needed to be aware of the danger of media propagation of discrimination and must do everything possible to prevent discrimination on the grounds, among others, of race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political and other opinions and national or social origin.

26.       Among other things, codes of conduct should require that journalists:

      —gi       ve a full and accurate picture of events, placing them in context;—

      —pr       ovide a representative picture of the particular social group;—

      —re       fer to and clarify the aims and values of society.27

27.       Training of journalists, programme presenters, programme makers and so on is very important and requires co-operation with associations of media practitioners, migrants' representatives, the authorities, and specialists on racism, discrimination and xenophobia. It should include inter-cultural instruction on issues relating to race relations and minorities. Journalists belonging to minorities need regular opportunities to meet other journalists, and exchange between media practitioners in the immigration and emigration countries should be encouraged.

28.       The importance of training, informing and raising the awareness of those who work in media should be emphasised: a balanced picture of migrants and ethnic minorities is not just a matter of government policy but rather that of the day-to-day work of journalists, reporters, producers, programme-makers and so on.

2.5.       Role of the media in the fight against racism and intolerance

29.       The upsurge of xenophobia and racism in most parts of Europe reflects the deteriorating public image of immigrants - a trend which the media are not managing to reverse.

30.       It is up to the media to play a central role in ensuring that the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, association, religion and equality of people of all races and all cultures, as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, are respected. However, while they are an effective means of combating intolerance, the media can also do much to propagate it. This may be a matter of deliberately publishing propaganda or broadcasting racist songs, but the propagation may occur in all "innocence" (without any intention of fomenting racism). For example, sensational coverage of racist acts, demonstrations and statements may publicise racist or xenophobic ideas.

31.       There must therefore be a clear acceptance that the media carry some of the responsibility for propagation of such ideas. To prevent deliberate racist excesses, laws which prohibit incitement to racism or fascism must be enforced. Strictly speaking, this would involve restricting freedom of expression, but it should be remembered that such restriction has a legal basis in both national and international law.

32.       In the field of international law, Article 4 of the International Convention of the United Nations (1965) on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination calls for the adoption of legislative measures to punish the propagation of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred and incitement to racial discrimination.

33.       Similarly, case-law under the European Convention on Human Rights has repeatedly and clearly recognised that restrictions on the freedom of expression of people who propagate racist ideas are justified.

2.6.       The role of the authorities

34.       While respecting media independence and freedom of expression, the authorities are required to play an active role in "media-migrant" relations, since good community and inter-ethnic relations are a cornerstone of social stability.

35.       Firstly it is up to states to pass media legislation which, among other things, emphasises the general obligation of the media to promote understanding between peoples, and which spells out the means of giving migrants and ethnic minorities access to the media. Effective anti-racist legislation also needs introducing (where it does not exist already) and strictly enforcing.

36.       Secondly official public relations services should provide credible and complete information to improve public understanding and acceptance of immigrants. Journalists should be the main target, and should be supplied with information and statistics at regular press conferences and information meetings.

37.       Thirdly official public relations services must also get the message across to the public direct. Films and videos are often effective here, as are booklets and leaflets (which are also less expensive), and all of these should have financial help from the state. Local, carefully targeted consciousness-raising campaigns tend often to have more impact than large-scale campaigns conducted through the national media.

38.       Public radio and television appear best placed to take on an active role in the promotion of good inter-community relations. Unlike commercial radio and television they are not bound to operate on market principles only, and this makes them highly appropriate tools in this area. National licensing agreements should require them to set aside adequate air-time for programmes about or for migrants and ethnic minorities, in their own or the host country's language. This is in fact already the policy in various member states, whose approaches offer possible models.

2.7.       Respecting the freedom of expression and commercial nature of the media

39.       While the media should be encouraged to provide balanced information on the facts of immigration, it is essential to bear in mind two limiting factors. These are:

      —th       e need to respect the principle of freedom of expression—

—       the need to respect the commercial nature of the media

40.       Freedom of expression is one of the individual's fundamental freedoms, and experience has shown that restricting it, even when the object of doing so seems laudable, is harmful. It would therefore be wrong to try and censor reporting of events that were felt to be damaging to migrants' image. This is why any restrictions imposed must be based on law and their application overseen by the judiciary.

41.       The media are both cause and effect of public opinion. It must be remembered that they operate commercially, and need to attract, not alienate, their audiences. Choice of programme lies with the consumer, and merely reflects his opinions, interests and tastes.

42.       This being so, the best approach - but also the hardest - would seem to be education of the public at different levels by journalists, the authorities and NGOs.

3. The media as mouthpiece, information source and

adjustment aid for migrants and ethnic minorities

3.1.       General points

43.       The media are vitally important for migrants, who often feel cut off from both their own country and the host community. They can play a crucial role in helping new arrivals to understand the host country, familiarising them with its language and culture and helping them to forge links with its people. They also give migrants and ethnic minorities a chance to say what they think, keep in touch with other members of their communities, preserve and develop their linguistic and cultural heritages, and tell the host community about that heritage.

44.       A German survey has shown that radio and television programmes dealing with countries of origin attract large foreign audiences, and immigrants are, in general, among the most avid television viewers. This is proof of the important role played by radio and television in keeping immigrants in touch with the outside world, and also in helping to emancipate them.

45.       An obligation on states to take the action needed to give migrants the right to self-expression and information is enshrined in international legal instruments. It should be remembered that the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe states that migrant workers are entitled, as far as possible, to receive information on both their own and the host country in their own language.

3.2.       Media output specifically concerned with migrants

46.       The quantity and quality of media output relating to migrants are often affected by a lack of resources. Governments should therefore financially assist the production of immigrant associations' newspapers and newsletters even though they of course cannot take over financial responsibility for them. Advertisers should also be encouraged to use such publications, even if they command smaller readerships than their big-circulation equivalents.

47.       It is particularly important for local radio and television stations and the local press to carry regular programmes and articles on the lives of immigrants in their catchment areas and report on specific examples of successful integration.

48.       Germany was the first country to introduce national television magazine programmes specifically aimed at immigrants in 1963, and was swiftly followed by Belgium and Great Britain. Many member states now have programmes of this kind, often bilingual and fulfilling several functions, from providing information on a wide range of topics of practical interest to migrants to preserving cultural links.

49.       Member states which do not yet have programmes of this kind should consider introducing them by concluding agreements with radio and television stations on making and broadcasting programmes aimed at immigrants and ethnic minorities. For the making of programmes, authorities will in many cases be able to use private production companies, some of which make programmes of a high standard. To be effective, such programmes must be allocated sufficient resources and air-time. The programmes themselves must be comprehensive and cover the specific problems faced by migrants - access to the job market, training and schooling, health, etc. - as well as their culture. It may also be worth subtitling minority-language television programmes so that the host community can follow them. It goes without saying that making good programmes vitally depends on having media practitioners from an immigrant background or ethnic minority.

50.       At the same time a static approach should be avoided, and programme content and type need adapting to changes in the immigrant community in the particular country. It is very important, for instance, to cater for the interests and needs of second-generation and third-generation immigrants and for any new immigrant groups.

51.       The authorities should be cooperative in dealing with requests for wavebands from radio stations run by foreign communities and if possible accommodate them. The major broadcasting companies should be encouraged to work with such stations and help them make programmes. A distinction can be made between national and local services, the latter being more accessible to the public and able to devote more time to specific groups. They can, in other words, focus on things and events with which their audiences can identify easily.

52.       The new media (videotext, satellite, micro-computers, cable, etc.) are opening up new possibilities. Germany, for example, now has five channels in Turkish on cable, and these attract hundreds of thousands of viewers. Nevertheless, if channels of this type are to survive anywhere in Europe, they must be given official support, and the major national channels must co-operate with them on programme-making.

3.3.       Information from migrants' countries of origin

53.       Migrants must be able to maintain links with their own countries and to preserve and develop their own cultures. To that end, states must allow free movement of media output from countries of origin.

54.       The new technologies are making it easier to keep immigrants informed. In Britain, for example, the Chinese community can get Chinese dailies via satellite transmission from Hong Kong to a printer in a London suburb. Satellite television also offers numerous possibilities.

55.       There is no proof that these new information media actually help immigrant communities to integrate, an important consideration when most of them have settled permanently in the host country. Nevertheless, that is undoubtedly no reason to interfere with media circulation.

56.       On a European scale, we urge member states to ratify the European Convention on Transfrontier Television, which seeks to promote the free circulation of television programme services throughout Europe.

4. Council of Europe initiatives

57.       Relations between migrants and the media are not a new subject for the Council of Europe, and have already been studied in connection with various parliamentary and governmental activities.

4.1.       Action by the Parliamentary Assembly

      4.1.1.       Recommendations adopted by the Assembly

58.       Relations between migrants and the media have been the subject of several recommendations. Recommendation 968 (1983) on xenophobic attitudes and movements in member countries with regard to migrant workers, which was adopted in response to the rise of racism and xenophobia in various member states, affirmed that the existence of multicultural societies in Europe was an irreversible fact, and stressed the role of the media in promoting coexistence of nationals and migrants. It proposed various measures, including action to ensure that the realities of immigration were objectively presented, and migrants given better access to the media. The Assembly also proposed that a European Prize be awarded every year for the television programme which did most to promote understanding between cultures.

59.       Recommendation 1034 (1986) on the improvement in Europe of mutual understanding between ethnic communities ("Daring to live together"), adopted in April 1986, led to the "Enjoying our Diversity" seminar, which was held in Strasbourg from 25 to 27 November 1987 and set out to highlight experiments in inter-community and inter-cultural living. The role of the media was one of the three main subjects discussed. The impact of this initiative was assessed in Recommendation 1089 (1988), which stressed that the media had a duty to give a full and objective picture of immigration, and that migrants themselves must be given better access to the media. The Committee of Ministers was also urged to make a comparative study of the member states' media policies in respect of migrant communities, and to examine the possibility of setting up a European agency to produce and disseminate information on migrants in Europe. Unfortunately, the Committee of Ministers did not act on these proposals.

60.       More recently, Recommendation 1222 (1993) on the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance emphasised the "crucial role that the media could play in presenting an open and tolerant society", as well as their responsibility in terms of incitement to racial violence.

      4.1.2.       European Television and Immigration (Paris, 11-14 June 1992)

61.       Organised by the "Association dialogue entre les cultures" (ADEC), under the patronage of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, with the participation and support of two Assembly committees, this meeting was attended by hundreds of participants - producers, programme makers, broadcasters, experts and representatives of the institutions and associations concerned - and set out to compare the audio-visual policies and practices of the different European countries in relation to immigration. Emphasising the power of the image in shaping public opinion, the meeting used national examples to pinpoint avenues to be explored with a view to involving television in promoting community relations.

      4.1.3.       Hearing on migrants, ethnic minorities and the media (London, 15 March 1995)

62.       In connection with preparation of this report the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography held a hearing attended by parliamentarians, representatives of the competent United Kingdom authorities, media practitioners, specialists and representatives of various associations. The hearing looked in particular at how to improve migrant and ethnic minority access to the media and at ethical aspects of media coverage of intercommunity relations. Case studies of media output in this field were presented. We would stress the excellence of the papers presented to the hearing, whose findings are amply reflected in this report.

4.2.       Intergovernmental activities

63.       A European colloquy on "Migrants, media and cultural diversity" was held in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands, from 29 November to 1 December 1988, as part of a multi-disciplinary project on community relations conducted between 1987 and 1991 under the aegis of the European Committee on Migration (CDMG). Action proposals adopted at the colloquy included a wide range of measures to improve migrant access to the media. Among other things, it was recommended that a European Media Prize be awarded every year to the press concern and radio or television station which had done the best work in this area. It was also recommended that a European production fund be set up to encourage the production and dissemination of multicultural programmes.

64.       Several recommendations put forward by the above-mentioned multidisciplinary project were worked out at the conference on "The Role of the Media in Promoting Integration and Equal Opportunities for Immigrants" (Solingen, Germany, 30 November to 2 December 1994). Reaffirming the key role of the media in promoting integration of and equal opportunities for migrants and ethnic minorities, the recommendations adopted by the conference among other things call on governments to provide appropriate financial support to public sector broadcasting, on schools and media organisations to promote access for migrants to the media, and on media practitioners to adopt codes of practice.

65.       Other activities in this field have been carried out by the Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC), particularly under its Project No 7, "Education and cultural development of migrants". The CDCC is currently producing a study on "Minorities and the media". Certain issues connected with migrants and the media are being dealt with by the Steering Committee on the Mass Media (CDMM), which is in charge of preparations for the European Ministerial Conferences on Mass Media Policy, the fourth and latest of which was held in Prague on 7 and 8 December 1994.

66.       In a Declaration on Media in a Democratic Society the ministers attending the conference condemned as undermining democratic security, cultural cohesion and pluralism, all forms of expression which incited to racial hatred and intolerance. The conference likewise stressed the importance of public service broadcasting in combating racism and intolerance and the need for journalists to observe ethical principles.

67.       The Committee of Ministers has recently initiated intergovernmental work in the area of media and intolerance. A group of specialists has been set up to examine the possible role of the media in propagating racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance and the possible media contribution to combating them. The group will also consider the question of media education. This initiative reflects a long-term and structural approach which is a necessary complement to other action on media questions under the Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance (see section 4.3. below) and, in the rapporteurs' view, deserves the Parliamentary Assembly's full support.

4.3.       Council of Europe Plan of Action against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance

68.       In response to the unprecedented rise in intolerance, hatred and racist violence, the Council of Europe's heads of state and government adopted a plan of action against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance at their summit in Vienna in October 1993. Among other things, this plan called on media professionals to "report and comment on acts of racism and intolerance factually and responsibly, and to continue to develop professional codes of ethics which reflect these requirements".

69.       The Committee of Ministers deserves praise for wasting no time in taking the administrative and budgetary decisions needed to implement this Plan of Action. The many activities planned include consultation of media professionals and a meeting has been held in October 1994, the aim being to pinpoint practical ways of making the public aware of the problems of intolerance.

70.       As practical follow-up to this consultation, the first European Media Forum against Racism and Intolerance was held in Strasbourg on 21 March 1995 on the occasion of the United Nations Day for the Elimination for Racial Discrimination. The event, successfully mounted by the Council of Europe, the city of Strasbourg and the International Federation of Journalists, was attended by senior media practitioners. It is intended that the forum become an annual event with, from 1996 onwards, award of a European Media Prize against Racism and Intolerance, sponsored jointly by the Council of Europe and the Commission of the European Communities. We wholeheartedly support this excellent move, which helps stimulate professional attitudes in media coverage of this field. In our view the Assembly should recommend that the Committee of Ministers provide appropriate finance to the project, both in 1996 and subsequent years.

5. Conclusions

71.       There is a general need to extend and diversify media production dealing with migrants and ethnic minorities, to improve its quality and to ensure that migrants take part in media work. It is vital that political decision-makers at all levels should become aware of the power of words and images and, while respecting freedom of expression, employ every political and economic means of developing still further the media contribution to social cohesion and respect for human rights.

72.       Finally, it must be emphasised that improving the image of migrants and ethnic minorities is closely bound up with improving their socio-economic status, including action on unemployment. Embarking resolutely on this path is the key to eliminating the pejorative clichés which attach to them. The proposals for action contained in the draft Recommendation accompanying this report aim to achieve that goal.

Reporting committee: Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none.

Origin: Order No. 420 (1983), 27 September 1983

Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 2 June 1995.

Members of the committee: Mrs Aguiar (Chair), Mr Cucó, Sir John Hunt (Vice-Chairmen), MM. Akselsen, Andres, Mrs Arnold, Mrs Ástgeirsdóttir, MM. Attard Montalto, Biefnot, Billing, van den Bos (Alternate: Mrs Baarveld-Schlaman), Branger, Mrs Brasseur, MM. Brennan (Alternate: Gregory), Brito, Ehrmann, Fuhrmann, Galanos (Alternate: Christodoulides), Ghesquière, Golu, Gotzev, Gross, Iuliano, Iwiński, Junghanns, Kalus, Kapsis, Kiliç, Kiratlioǧlu, Lord Kirkhill, MM. Laanoja, Lauricella, Leitner, Liapis (Alternate: Korakas), Loutfi, Mészáros, Paasilinna, Pantelejevs, Pastuszka, Mrs Robert, MM. Saudargas, Školč, Mrs Soutendijk-van Appeldoorn, Mrs Theorin, MM. Tkáč, Trojan, Vázquez.

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries of the committee: MM. Newman and Sich.