In accordance with Article 3 of the Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, member States undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature. Media freedom under Article 10 of the Convention is a necessary condition in order to ensure this fundamental right to free elections.
The current change of the media landscape through rapidly expanding Internet media also changes the impact of media on the democratic decision-making process. Traditional standards need to be reviewed, for example regarding the access of political parties to broadcasting before elections.
Faced with a growing politicisation of the media as well as public accusations of media by politicians, journalists are often working under undue pressures, as noted in election observation reports by the Parliamentary Assembly.
The Assembly should therefore discuss and develop common standards and indicators for an analysis of the media situation in the context of elections and referenda.