‘Eurobarometer’ on Media Pluralism and Democracy

The Eurobarometer survey no. 452 ‘Media Pluralism and Democracy’ explores citizen’s opinions about the diversity of views available in the media, and their perceptions of media independence.

The survey was carried out by in the 28 Member States of the European Union between the 24th of September and 3rd of October 2016.

In particular, the survey covers the following areas:

  • Views about the variety of opinions and views presented in the media;
  • Perceptions of the independence of both the general and public service media;
  • Trust in the information provided by the media;
  • Awareness of the national media regulator, and opinions about its independence;
  • Participation in debates on social media;
  • Online encounters with hate speech and threats, and the influence this has on participation.

The results of this survey paint a mixed picture of media pluralism and freedom across the European Union. On the positive side, the majority of respondents think their national media provide a diversity of views and opinions.

However, in spite of the diversity of the media, the majority of respondents say neither their national or their public service media are free and independent. Furthermore, almost three in ten think their national media are less free and independent than they were five years ago.

While all Member States have a body to regulate audiovisual media, just over one in five know their country’s media regulator. Furthermore, only a minority believe their media regulator is free and independent from political, governmental or commercial pressures.

Just over half of respondents follow debates on social media by reading articles on the Internet, or through blogs or other social media. Less than three in ten actively participate in them by posting comments and so on. For those who do participate, it is more likely to be an occasional rather than a regular occurrence.

Amongst those who at least sometimes follow or participate in such debates, there is widespread experience of hate speech, threats or abuse directed against journalists, bloggers or people active on social media. For almost half, these experiences make them hesitant to engage in online debates.

These results highlight that, in the eyes of Europeans, there is still considerable work to be done in ensuring the independence of national media. The widespread experience of hate speech, abuse and threats in online spaces also needs to be addressed to ensure all citizens feel free to safely express themselves in the online sphere.

Download Eurobarometer survey no. 452 ‘Media Pluralism and Democracy’: report, summary and factsheets.