Transparency of media ownership & funding

Transparency of media ownership and financing are crucial instruments of effective pluralism in a democratic society. A broad notion of media pluralism, among others, encompasses economic dimension that might have potential interference risk with the editorial and operational independence of the media outlets. Comprehensive picture of ownership and financial sources allows to evaluate the viability of the media market and understand to what extent political or commercial forces, including media owners and advertisers, influence editorial decision-making.

Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2017x)xx of the Committee of Ministers to member states on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership sets criteria for member states in order to ensure high levels of transparency with regard to the sources of financing of media editions and help increase media accountability. Council of Europe encourages member states to adopt and implement legislation that sets out enforceable disclosure of the following information:

  • on the sources of income, including from State and other funding mechanisms and (State) advertising, of media outlets.
  • Information on structural relationships or contractual cooperation with other media or advertising companies, political parties or the State, including in respect of State advertising.

Guidelines developed by the Council of Europe provides a set of recommendations to member states on how to guarantee access by the public to information about media by including relevant provisions in their domestic legislation:

  • Guideline No. 1: Access by the public to information on the media: “It should be carried out in a way which respects the rights and legitimate interests of the persons or bodies subject to transparency requirements. Particular attention should be given to the need to reconcile the requirement of transparency with the principle of freedom of trade and industry as well as with the requirements of data protection, commercial secrecy, the confidentiality of the sources of information of the media and editorial secrecy”.
At the same time, different regulatory and policy approach towards certain types of media (broadcast, print, online) is precondition of such legislation. According to the recommendations, the obligations may be limited with regard to factors such as the commercial nature of the media outlet, a wide audience reach, exercise of editorial control, frequency and regularity of publication or broadcast, etc.

Broadcast media


Public Service Broadcaster funding models


Online media


Print media