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Violence in and through the media

Doc. 13509: collection of written amendments | Doc. 13509 | Revised version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Parliamentary Assembly notes that the media play a major role in the daily life of modern societies. In this context, it is alarming that incidents of extreme violence have been perpetrated by individuals who had intensive prior exposure to violent media. It is therefore of utmost importance for democratic societies to address this correlation adequately.
2Over the last decade, the media landscape has changed due to the enormous growth of the Internet and online media. The latter, and a convergence of traditional media with social online media with user-to-user content, have created new forms of media violence. Existing policies and regulations regarding media violence therefore face challenges both legally and in practical terms.
3Violence in and through the media can take different forms, ranging from the implied or verbal to the depiction of psychological or physical violence, including sexual. Such violence can be targeted at fictional characters or human beings, with the distinction between the two categories being blurred by technological advances in computer-animated images. The interactivity of computer games and Internet media provides possibilities for users to actively steer violence in and through the media and thus identify with such violence.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 3, replace the last sentence with the following sentence: "The interactivity of computer games, Internet tools (social networks, chat rooms, search engines, online shopping, and so on) and the accessibility of those media from anywhere (via “smartphones”) create numerous possibilities for users to actively steer the violence found in and conveyed through the media, and to identify with it."

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 3, insert the following paragraph:

"Because they are very active in certain new media, children (up to the age of 18) are especially exposed to the new forms of violence found in and conveyed through the media and to all the attendant risks; their situation therefore deserves particular attention."

4A particularly serious aspect of these developments is media incitement to violence, namely the advocacy of violent behaviour through a media product or service. Cyber bullying is a form of inter-personal aggression which uses the Internet and mobile phones as weapons, but may be a consequence of incitement to violence through the media. Together with other contributory factors, such aggression might also lead to self-aggression or suicide.
5The perception of violence may differ among individuals and societies and may evolve over time, but it is generally recognised in Europe that freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) applies neither to child pornography nor to hate speech.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5, add the following sentences: "Child pornography and child abuse images as serious violations of children’s rights have been covered by the Assembly in its work leading to Resolution 1834 (2011) and Recommendation 1980 (2011) on "Combating 'child abuse images' through committed, transversal and internationally co-ordinated action". Violence may also be insidiously conveyed through the media, for example in the depiction of the hyper-sexualisation of children."

6In order to address media violence adequately, all stakeholders need to recognise and assume their respective responsibilities. States have the obligation to combat illegal forms of media violence, protect minors against the harmful effects of media violence and ensure access of users to information about the violence of a media service or product. The producers, and in particular commercial producers, of violent media bear editorial and commercial responsibility. Users, as well as parents of young users, are also responsible for such use.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6, at the end of the first sentence, add the following words: "and to be aware of the particular vulnerability of children in this sphere".

7While it is difficult to prove a direct causality between the exposure of a person to a violent media service or product and a subsequent act of aggression or violence by that person, the general impact of media violence on the behaviour of individuals and societies as a whole cannot be denied. Commercial producers of violent media content bear a social responsibility for combating violence in society. Strict licensing requirements, higher transparency obligations or dissuasive fiscal measures may therefore be appropriate under these circumstances.
8Measures applied by public authorities against media violence need to be prescribed by law and justified in a democratic society. They must not be used to curb political opposition or otherwise violate the right to freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. News and current affairs media need to report on acts of violence, but should respect the rights of victims depicted in such media as well as the rights of children viewing them.
9The Assembly therefore resolves that national parliaments, governments of member States and media providers have a duty to protect against media violence on the basis of the following principles:

16 June 2014

Tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development

Votes: 80 in favor 1 against 4 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 9, replace the first sentence with the following sentence: "Consequently, convinced that governments, national parliaments and media service providers have a duty to combat violence in the media, the Assembly asks them to take the following measures:"

In amendment 5, replace the word "duty" with the word "responsibility".

9.1any incitement to violence through the media shall be prohibited by law in accordance with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the direct use of media in order to inflict psychological violence upon others, such as through cyber bullying, should be prohibited by law;
9.2the production, public display, sale and possession of media with gratuitous violence which violates human dignity shall be punishable by law; human dignity is at stake if a human being is prominently portrayed in a dehumanised way as a legitimate object of explicit and gratuitous physical, psychological or sexual violence and suffering;
9.3the production, public display and sale of violent media content which is likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of children and adolescents shall be restricted under the domestic law of member States; national regulations shall take due account of the fact that the access to such media content requires prior age verification of users;
9.4those who produce media in which violence plays a central part should be obliged by law to indicate publicly the type, level and quantity of violence of such media; authors of violent media content should identify themselves or be traceable through the editors of media or the providers of media services or products, unless the latter bear legal responsibility for such content;
9.5the providers of media services or products (such as broadcasters, Internet access or service providers, providers of mobile telecommunications media as well as sellers of videos, games or print media) must ensure that all media services or products which are knowingly made accessible through them indicate publicly the level and type of violence they contain, if violence plays a central part of the content;
9.6the providers of media services or products should be required to provide hotlines or other public complaint mechanisms, which can be used if difficulties are experienced with violent media content or violence through the media; complaint mechanisms should be complemented by a code of conduct regarding media violence, which includes content rating and access restrictions as well as co-operation with law-enforcement authorities in case of potentially illegal content;
9.7the producers of media reception devices (such as television sets, video players, audiovisual mobile communication devices, personal computers or smart phones) should be encouraged to provide built-in or free-of-charge add-on technical equipment to filter violent content in accordance with standardised indicators of such content; parents should be made aware of the availability of such filtering for the protection of their children; for this purpose, user-friendly manuals, made available free-of-charge upon request, should contain relevant information and guidance.
10The Assembly recommends that member States:
10.1create, in co-operation with media companies and media professionals, organisations which rate media violence, develop measures for the protection against media violence and monitor compliance with such measures; where such organisations do not exist, public regulatory authorities should have such competences in member States;

16 June 2014

Tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development

Votes: 82 in favor 1 against 3 abstentions

In the draft resolution, before paragraph 10.1, insert the following sub-paragraph: "devise and implement national programmes to raise awareness both of violence and of media skills for people who work with children, for families and for children themselves, based inter alia on greater European co-operation in this field;"

In amendment 6, delete the following words: "based inter alia on greater European co-operation in this field".

10.2criminalise the production, distribution and possession of violent and extreme pornography;

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 10.2, add the following words: ", in particular where images of aggression against children are concerned;"

10.3provide education about media violence in school curricula and in teacher training programmes.
11The Assembly invites:
11.1media professionals to develop, through their professional organisations, a code of conduct for journalists, photographers and editors dealing with violent media content;
11.2the European Broadcasting Union and the Association of Commercial Television in Europe to fully address the problem of media violence in the context of connected television, that is television sets with Internet access.

BDraft Recommendation

1Referring to its Resolution … (2014) on violence in and through the media, the Parliamentary Assembly welcomes and encourages member States to actively support the Council of Europe’s youth campaign against hate speech online.
2As violent media services and products are produced throughout Europe, including in countries which are not members of the European Union, the Council of Europe is the correct and appropriate authority to address this subject from a European perspective, based on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), which sets the standards for all 47 member States of the Council of Europe.
3Recalling the important legal and political guidance provided by the Committee of Ministers in its Recommendation No. R (97) 19 on the portrayal of violence in the electronic media, as well as Recommendation No. R (89) 7 concerning principles on the distribution of videograms having a violent, brutal or pornographic content, the Assembly believes that further work is necessary in this field.
4The Assembly therefore recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
4.1instigate the preparation of practical guidance to parents, teachers and providers of media services and products on how to deal with the effects of media violence on individuals and society as a whole and how to counteract its potential impact;

In the draft recommendation, paragraph 4.1, replace the words "deal with the effects of media violence" with the following words: "deal with violence in the media and its effects".

4.2assess the feasibility of ensuring, possibly in co-operation with the European Union and UNESCO, the standardised rating of violent content by the producers and access providers of such content throughout Europe and beyond;

16 June 2014

Tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development

Votes: 86 in favor 2 against 1 abstention

In the draft recommendation, paragraph 4.2, replace the words "assess the feasibility of ensuring" with the following words: "encourage, through relevant existing partnerships between intergovernmental bodies and private stakeholders".

In amendment 9, delete the word "existing".

4.3call on governments of member States to forward this recommendation and Resolution … (2014) on violence in and through the media to their domestic regulatory authorities and public service broadcasters.