The EU has been “pouring millions of pounds” into projects and groups supporting state-backed regulation of the press, according to a report from the Telegraph this morning.
The European Union has been giving financial aid to key allies of the Hacked Off campaign, including a £2.3m spend on the ‘Mediadem’ project which recently produced “recommendations for the UK” calling for the “imposition of sanctions beyond an apology or correction” on errant media outlets and the “co-ordination of the journalistic profession at the European level”.
Mediadem’s report cites work by the Media Standards Trust and the Coordinating Committee for Media Reform (CCMR), closely intertwined with Hacked Off, and calls for the press to be controlled by the same body and on the same basis as broadcasters, which face tighter controls than newspapers.
According to the report, the European Commission wants to be a “moral compass” against press misconduct, and as such is looking for new national and Europe-wide regulatory power over journalists. Its interest in regulations over the British press comes following its anger over coverage of Brussels and a belief that the press treats it unfairly.
The Sunday Telegraph London editor, Andrew Gilligan, states that Mediadem is one of at least five initiatives being pursued by the EU to increase its powers over the media.
Meanwhile, Hacked Off claimed last night that it had not received money from the EU. However, the Media Standards Trust has received money from the EU’s European Social Fund for a study into local news.
This article originally reported that MediaAct had supposedly transferred £100,000 of European funds directly to the Mediawise campaign group. In fact, Mediawise did not receive any EU money. As Mediawise's accounts state, the group received initial funding for the project from the Erich Brost Institute but had formally transferred the project to the University of the West of England by the time EU funding was approved, though the work continued to be done by Mediawise staff and in Mediawise's office, for which the university was recompensed by the EU. We are happy to make this clear.