The results of the 2016 Media Pluralism Monitor Report (MPM) were presented in the Portuguese Parliament yesterday at a colloquium organized by the Parliamentary Committee on Culture, Communication, Youth and Sport. The project, based at the European Institute in Florence, is headed up in Portugal by Professor Rui Cádima and includes the participation of Luís Oliveira Martins, Marisa Torres da Silva and Carla Baptista. The debate centered on the state of media pluralism in Portugal and was attended by parliamentary groups, media specialists and the general public. The situation in Portugal is mostly positive. The country presents low risks in almost all the indicators analyzed, except those related to social inclusion. In this case, Portugal needs to correct representation deficits of the so-called vulnerable groups, including minorities and local and regional communities. Gender-discrimination continues to exist, particularly at the level of journalistic content and programming, even in the public media. There is a shortage of media literacy programs and those that do exist are insufficient, disjointed and unmonitored. Portugal’s positive note came in the issue of accessibility, due to progress arising from programs for people with disabilities (namely deafness and / or vision problems).
Portugal offers a good legal and professional framework for the exercise of journalism as far as the other indicators assessed by the MPM are concerned – basic protection of journalists, plurality of the market, and political independence of the media. However, one of the speakers, the journalist Adelino Gomes said yesterday, “There are black clouds forming on the horizon.” These threats relate to the concentration of media ownership (horizontal and cross-media), the precarious job situation of journalists that risks compromising their autonomy, the increasing interference in content on the part of advertisers and economic powers, and a certain lack of transparency regarding the integration of platforms with migration to digital. The debate was dominated by what the MPs called “the elephant in the room”, namely, the recent ruling of the ERC (Regulatory Entity of Communication) about the intended acquisition of the Media Capital group by multinational Altice. The deal, which is still awaiting the green light, is giving cause for concern regarding the growing risk to media pluralism in Portugal that the transaction might entail.