On Thursday, June 7th, 2018, the Association of European Radios – AER, organised a conference at the European Parliament stressing the important role played by radio in fighting against disinformation.
John Purcell (IBI President), moderator for the conference, welcomed the guests to the 2018 AER Conference. Mr Purcell stressed the difficulties faced by radio to guarantee its future in today’s world as technology is rapidly changing.
Marlene Mizzi MEP (Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – S&D, Malta) outlined the work her team and her performed on the European Electronic Communications Code. She stressed that the legislators have managed to reach what seems to be an acceptable compromise for radios, pushing digital broadcasting in cars, whilst recognising that online is important and that FM is still the main door to access radio. In that sense, radio is essential for citizens as it enables them to reach a free and accessible medium, helpful in cases of disaster or to tackle fake news. This is why radio should maintain a good shape, through FM as it is currently the case.
Stefan Möller (AER President) started by thanking MEP Marlene Mizzi and her team for hosting the event and recognising / supporting the specificities of radio: amongst others, an analogue medium thriving in a digital world that provides listeners with trusted news and content to relax.
Manuel Mateo Goyet (Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel) outlined the recent measures taken by the European Commission (EC) to tackle online disinformation. Mr Mateo Goyet stressed that the EC is promoting a self-regulatory approach with regards to the actions to be taken by the platforms when fighting against disinformation. He added that platforms should work hand in hand with advertisers / media and a Code of Practice developed by stakeholders will be published during the summer, giving examples of the points to be tackled (tools to take down fake accounts, to help factcheckers, to address deep fakes, and bots, to have more transparency on advertising, for media literacy, etc.).
During the question / answers following the keynote, Lucas Boudet (EASA Director General) stressed that whilst self-regulation when it comes to the Code of Practice on disinformation is a positive step forward, stakeholders need more time to come up with the correct framework – self-regulation takes a minimum period to be drafted in order to deliver.
Caroline Grazé (Radioplayer Germany Managing Director) started by presenting Radioplayer: a non-for-profit entity benefitting all radios, which members are usually radios that have a licence to broadcast. Radioplayer ensures that all radios that have a licence to broadcast are found online and on related devices such as voice activated devices, cars, etc. In that sense, a study commissioned by Radioplayer (and covering France, Germany and the UK) showed that 84% of people always listen to radio in the car and 82% would never consider buying a car without a radio.
Julia Maier-Hauff (AER Secretary General) set the scene for the panel debate and outlined two reasons for radio to be the citizens’ trusted guide against fake news. On the one hand, radio is impervious to filter bubble as 90% of the radio listening is done via broadcasting. In that sense, listeners do not choose to listen at news they like but get a full programme. On the other hand, radio complies with strict local rules and journalistic standards, which imposes them to rectify any information broadcasted that is wrong. Regarding advertising, she reminded that the industry has set up self-regulation on behavioural / targeted advertising, enabling users with information and the choice NOT to receive targeted advertising.
Pervenche Berès MEP (Member of the S&D Group, France) agreed with the points made earlier and stressed the importance to act now with regards to the next Multi Financial Framework 2021-2017, as it could greatly help radio. She added that the main advantage of radio compared to other means of information, is that it requires less activity from the listener: it is easier to follow and to understand. This is why even the youth listens to the radio. For her, the macro-issue is populism, and the micro-issue is fake news.
Lynn Boylan MEP (Member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left – GUE/NGL, Ireland) said that radio’s value lies in the accuracy of the information it broadcasts. She added that funding should be allocated to quality journalism. She highlighted that because of its nature, radio is passive and can be listened to whilst multitasking, thus allowing the listener to be less distracted and thus understand better.
Nadja Hirsch MEP (Member of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – ALDE, Germany) outlined the issues faced by politicians today because of disinformation. She stressed that radio can be a useful tool to fight disinformation as citizens have over the years put their trust in it, and have time to listen to it.
More information with vincent.sneed[@]aereurope.org or here: