Can freedom of speech be regulated?

150 150 Time To Talk
In the build-up to the European parliamentary elections, this Red House Festival of Ideas on Europe discussion with Daniel Kaiser looked at threats to free speech within contemporary Europe.
These are video highlights, a full-length recording of this event can be accessed by clicking here

About the debate:

In this second Festival of Ideas on Europe discussion, Daniel Kaiser laments that we are still talking about the need to promote and defend free speech in 2019 and focuses on the process of oligarchisation amongst Czech media outlets and what he sees as problematic international legislation.

Looking back at the last five to ten years, Kaiser details how big corporations and businessmen have taken over the Czech media scene, with the exception of Czech national television, which he believes has become stronger since earlier attempts to restrict its independence failed.

Later in the discussion, Kaiser also looks at trends in the UK, the EU and the UN, tracing what he sees as a regulatory tendency towards suppression of free speech. He draws attention to a series of legislative measures which state an intention to protect minorities, restrict terrorism and/or extremist language and the spread of disinformation, but which, he feels, leave the door wide open to a subjective restriction of free speech.

To find out more, watch the English-language highlights of the discussion at the top of this page. A short biography of Daniel Kaiser, information about the Bulgarian-language debate which followed this lecture and a link to that discussion can also been found further down this page.

Alternatively, if you want to find out more about the Festival of Ideas on Europe and its other discussions, click here to visit our festival page.

Schedule of events & speaker biographies:

Freedom of speech in Central and Eastern Europe: between the oligarchy at home and fighting “fake news” in Brussels

Opening lecture - in English


Daniel Kaiser – Journalist, Eho24
Formerly active in the BBC’s Czech Republic office and at the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny. Kaiser left Lidové noviny on its takeover by the current Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, and now works as a political commentator at the Eho24 weekly. He is also the author of a political biography of Václav Havel.

Can Brussels regulate media in the EU?

Follow-up discussion - in Bulgarian
(Bulgarian speakers can access the full-length discussion with Bulgarian interpretation on The Red House's YouTube channel by clicking here)


Polina Paunova - Journalist, Radio Free Europe


Irina Nedeva – Journalist, Bulgarian National Radio & Chair of the Association of European Journalists, Bulgaria

Neli Ognianova - Media Law Expert

Andrei Tagarev - Software Developer, Ontotext AD (a company which develops fake news tracking systems)