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Europe's publishers speak out against "censorship" directive

Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, European Parliament hearing, Brussels

Speaking at the European Parliament Hearing on Discrimination against Women outside the workplace in Brussels today (10 September), Koen Clement, EPC member and General Manager of Magnet Magazines, Belgium, strongly criticised the current text of the "sexism" Directive as a direct threat to editorial and advertising freedoms.

The EPC is naturally opposed to any attempts to curtail editorial freedom and regards any interference with programme guidelines and editorial policy as attempted censorship. Mr. Clement questioned the Commission's mandate to regulate content and questioned the EU's competence to "indulge in areas of advertising regulation which concerns matters of taste and decency".

Mr. Clement said: "As ethically responsible companies, we of course attach great importance to the quality and dignity of our editorial content and advertising, especially, where gender issues are concerned. However, we strongly believe that matters of editorial and advertising policy fall within the remit of self-regulation."

The EPC insists that national codes already exist at national level to cover gender discrimination with the advantage of allowing flexibility and interpretation according to cultural differences. The recently adopted draft directive on unfair commercial practices concluded that such matters are better dealt with by existing self-regulatory codes of advertising practice and guidance on the content of television programmes is contained within the TV Without Frontiers directive, itself currently under review.

Mr. Clement concluded: "We look forward to further dialogue with the Commission to avoid any legislation which would threaten fundamental press and media freedoms".

For further information, contact Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265 or Angela Mills Wade on Tel: +44 1865 310 732.

Note to Editors:

The European Publishers Council (EPC) is a high level group of Chairmen and CEOs of leading European media corporations actively involved in multimedia markets spanning newspaper, magazine, Internet and on-line database publishing. Many EPC members also have significant interests in private television and radio.

www.epceurope.org