While media in Cyprus are generally independent from political control, they frequently reflect their owner’s political agendas and are vulnerable to influences by commercial interests, a recent study said.
According to the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM) 2016, freedom of expression and media pluralism in Cyprus are generally positive, but gaps and problematic aspects do exist.
“While media are generally independent from political control, they frequently reflect the owners’ political agendas,” the report said. “They are also vulnerable to increasing influences by commercial interests.”
Companies have been known to threaten media outlets with withdrawing advertising if negative reports are published. They have also been known to pull ads after such reports.
The MPM is a research tool designed to identify potential risks to media pluralism in the EU. The report was produced as part of the first pan-European implementation of the MPM carried out in 2016.
According to the report, despite privileged media access, political actors interfered with the funding and operation of public service media.
“Non-mainstream and other minorities groups, including women, enjoy limited media access,” it said.
In Cyprus, the main challenge for the authorities is to promote universal penetration of broadband with higher speeds so as to bridge the digital gap.
The media must also rethink and redefine its role.
“Raising awareness on and defending journalists’ rights and editorial independence are key to pluralism and serving the public interest,” the report said.
As regards market plurality, the media must clear content from external influences and restore its social role.
The media should also experiment with new business models and revenue streams and the state must find ways to assist print media mainly to survive and offer more titles.
“Government and political parties must revise their approach to media, mainly public service media,” the report said. “The legal framework of PSM needs ample revision, in particular the definition of public service.”
Read the full report here