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.
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.
Press freedom indices:
- Financial Times Czech Media Oligarchs Consolidate Press Powers
- European Centre for Press & Media Freedom How Czech Journalists Survive in Babisistan
- Freedom of Information request response on social media arrests in the Greater London area from 2014-2017
- theintercept.com Police Increasingly Monitoring and Criminalising Online Speech
- The Times Police Arresting Nine People a Day in Fight against Web Trolls
Legislation, agreements and related articles:
- European Commission Code of Practice on Disinformation
- European Commission The EU Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online
- Legislation.gov.uk Communications Act 2003
- Crown Prosecution Service Guidelines on Prosecuting Cases Involving Communications Sent via Social Media
- IOM, UN Migration Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
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)