ENG: Challenges of European and National Media Policy in the Fields of Migration and Diversity

In *RENAMING Media*, Radio FRO will scrutinize how current media policy discourses on the subject of migration take place on a European level and which role media play in this connection. *RENAMING Media* offers a setting for reflection in which to shed light on constructions and processes in the field of media production on national and European levels, and focuses on media initiatives that are confronting this constellation of facts and circumstances.

The effects of globalization that we encounter on a daily basis—greater mobility, international communications, increasing mediatization, global connectivity, and collaborative, interdisciplinary and trans-cultural cultural production, modes of working and networking—have focused the spotlight of attention in recent years on debates about collective constructions of identity within European societies. Encounters with ethnic, national or even European identities as well as the values and historical preconditions on which they are based have also assumed a key role in the debate about a European social utopia and current challenges posed by European social developments.[1]

At the same time, populist-authoritarian politics have reared their head in EU member states. This represents the effort to establish the idea of a national cultural identity, to strengthen national cohesion, and to foster a process of distancing the nation’s own culture from foreign elements.[2] The dominant majority culture’s confrontation with social, societal and cultural developments reflects the discrepancy between a diversified social reality and the hegemonic understanding of culture prevailing in that majority culture that merely tolerates immigrants living in its midst. The process of dealing with these social constellations, in which political leaders have revealed their complete impotence and proposed policy measures increasingly limited to enacting more stringent immigration procedures and regulations strictly limited to economic and linguistic integration, demands that civil society assume political responsibility and develop alternative strategies.

Immigrants as Objects of Mass-Media Productions

This state of affairs is clearly illustrated by the way immigrants are represented in the media. The prevailing attributes in such coverage all over Europe are violence, criminality, poverty and backwardness. Mainstream media do not simply report on this political agitation; they also construct it in the form of statements, texts and images. This constitutes support for these political dynamics and causes structural exclusion and worsening xenophobia.

Surveying the media landscape from the point of view of cultural diversity strengthens the impression that mainstream media operate exclusively within a fixed framework whose basic principle is coverage about immigrants in which these people are the objects of reporting that is pervaded by stereotypes.[3] Despite the fact that immigrants make up on average 20% of the population in European societies, reporting about immigration manifests the social and societal distance between the native-born locals and immigrants that is typical of these societies.

In the media production field, immigrants don’t play a significant role. The fact that a considerable segment of the population has no public voice audible throughout society calls into question the fundamental democratic consensus of European societies and necessarily leads to a political crisis of legitimacy. Due to the barriers placed in the way of immigrants and the general dependency on preconceived opinions, the media landscape of European societies needs to be fundamentally overhauled. In going about this, consideration has to be given, first and foremost, to representation of immigrants in media production. Nevertheless, it would be “naïve to think that one could simply insert immigrants into the existing structures.”[4] The media and their conditions of production will have to change and adapt to facts and circumstances that have been ignored far too long. This process of change is not just a question of survival of the media; it is also a core issue for all those societies that wish to continue to be considered democratic. Political institutions above all have to recognize this shift as a mission, the fulfillment of which will also prove to be a precondition for their own survival.

Challenges Posed by European Media Policymaking

The prevailing reality of the mass media strengthens the consolidation and formulation of conservative-populist social models, and pervasive everyday practices in the mass media attempt to thwart the constantly more diversified multicultural reality of European societies. In contrast to these developments, there have been initiatives set up on a national level since the 1970s throughout Europe that have made an effort to facilitate access to media production and to function as an interface making media available to immigrants.[5] Moreover, these developments have been accompanied by European projects that deal with media issues in Europe as a whole. Their basic principle is to cease regarding immigrants as objects to be reported on; their aim is to function as a participative nexus for and by immigrants within an otherwise hegemonic media structure.

On the national level, scant consideration is given to the role of media as a vehicle for getting across role images and stereotypes, and the political discourse on the subject of immigration and integration is dominated by an obsession with integration despite the fact that what is truly needed here is a well-though-out media policy strategy since media play hardly any role in this connection.[6] Political leaders have failed to come up with effective strategies for getting immigrant groups involved in this process.

The current efforts on the EU level to initiate Europe-wide media projects give rise to expectations that a new form of dealing with media production by immigrants in Europe is about to emerge; nevertheless, it is important to analyze the principles and objectives of such projects.[7] Are alternative options and offerings for a new European media landscape being provided? Is this an effort to establish conditions that will give rise to an open and flexible media landscape in which immigrants will be able to actively take part in the media production process? Do these interventions suggest a new European idea: a European identity that goes beyond public relations campaigns and makes possible a reflection of the European social model? And what challenges can these initiative expect to confront on the national level, where political leaders regard themselves as guardians of national identities and values?

Text: Ingo Leindecker, Alexander Vojvoda, Andi Wahl 

Translation: Mel Greenwald

A Project of

  Rado FRO 105.0 MHz
In Cooperation with


 ARS Electronica Festival 2010  VFRÖ – Verband der Freien Radios Österreich
cmfe  cs 
 CMFE – Community Media Forum Europe  Connecting Systems



[1] Charles Husband/Tom Morning (2009) *Public Spheres and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Europe* in Inka Salovaara-Moring (2009/Ed.) *Manufacturing Europe – spaces of democracy, diversity and communication*, NORDICOM, p. 131

[2] Ljubomir Bratic *Der Konsens im vermeintlichen Dissens. MigrantInnen als Objekte rassistischer Wahlkämpfe – und als Subjekt der Konfrontation* (consensus in purported disagreement—migrants as objects of racist election campaigns and as the subject of confrontation) in IG Kultur Österreich (2006/Ed.), *Kulturrisse* (Nr. 3/2006), IG Kultur Österreich, pp. 38 ff

[3] In Austria, the medial marginalization of social groups is explicitly addressed in the *Charta der Freien Radios Österreich* dated May 12, 2007; see *http://www.freie-radios.at/article.php?ordner_id=27&id=194*

[4] Terkessidis, Mark (2010): Interkultur, Surhkamp Verlag Berlin, p. 8

[5] RTR GmbH (2008/Ed): 10 Jahre Freies Radio in Österreich (10 years of free radio in Austria), RTR GmbH, pp. 69f

[6] National Action Plan for Integration *http://www.integrationsfonds.at/fileadmin/Integrationsfond/NAP/Nationaler_Aktionsplan.pdf*

[7] Euranet as pan-European radio network *http://www.euranet.eu*

Zuletzt geändert am 16.07.10, 00:00 Uhr

Silke Müller

Verfasst von Silke Müller

Ein Duett aus Radiofeature-Produktion und Illustrationsausstellung hat mein Kommunikationsdesign und Medienstudium abgeschlossen. Seit dem beschäftige ich mich mit der großen, künstlerischen Radioform "Feature", mit Reportagen und Interviews mit KünstlerInnen und Kulturschaffenden.

Ich bin freischaftende Illustratorin für Plakate - zum Beispiel für Radio FRO - Zeitungen, Magazine, Bücher und Ausstellungen. Radiohören geht beim Zeichnen wunderbar.

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