Respekt - Czech Republic | 20/10/2014

Press freedom needs paying readers too

The sale of shares in the publishing company that puts out the liberal Slovakian daily Sme to the investment firm Penta - which is suspected of corruption - is bad news for democracy, the liberal weekly paper Respekt believes: "Rich local businesspeople have always had enough money to influence politicians decisions to their advantage. However they wielded no influence over the media, which kept a close eye on them. But for a year now the majority of Czech and Slovakian media have been in the hands of people whose interests have nothing to do with publishing, but only with accumulating power. ... The good news is that the Sme editors who handed in their resignations now want to start a new project. ... But the time for cheap or free papers is over. In demonstrating their willingness to pay for content, readers will also play a role in shaping the future of the quality papers. And if they do, journalists and readers will jointly make sure that freedom is maintained." (20/10/2014) - Slovakia | 15/10/2014

No press freedom under oligarchs

The German media group Rheinische Post sold its 50 percent stake in the company which publishes the liberal daily Sme on Tuesday. The financier of the new shareholder is the Penta investment group, which was involved in the country's biggest corruption scandal. The main editorial office and many of Sme's editors don't want to work under Penta and have announced the launch of a new media outlet on their new webpage "With Penta we lose two things that are indispensable for proper journalism: we no longer have the certainty of being able to publish freely, and Penta will necessarily reduce our readers' trust. Penta is not a normal investor. The group is interested only in gaining the influence the Sme brand wields. ... Our departure should be seen as a gesture against the merging of politics and business. We don't want to live in a country whose official institutions or media are mainly there to satisfy the needs of oligarchs." (15/10/2014)

Politiken - Denmark | 08/10/2014

Danmarks Radio concealed costs of Eurovision

With a price tag of 334 million kroner (45 million euros), hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 turned out to be four times as expensive for Denmark as initially planned, a report published by the state audit office revealed on Tuesday. The left-liberal daily Politiken is particularly annoyed that the state television broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) kept quiet about this for a long time: "Was this really necessary? One of DR's main tasks as an important institution of society and the media is to examine whether those in power are sticking to the rules and not wasting public funds. Against this background it's very odd that DR decided to keep the affair under wraps. One could almost talk of double standards." (08/10/2014)

Corriere del Ticino - Switzerland | 06/10/2014

Propaganda rules in Ukraine conflict

In a speech at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, US Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the US forced the EU to impose economic sanctions on Russia. A bitter truth that is not being talked about in Europe, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino complains: "This statement has not been taken up in the press. Hardly any journalists have been able to gauge the import of Biden's comments. A grave professional error that is anything but surprising. Media can be influenced. In the US as in Europe. ... If someone says the truth, the world appears in another light than that in which the official propaganda presents it. But if the media don't report on such things, propaganda remains the alleged truth." (06/10/2014)

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