Pluralist but dependent on business interests
From a distance, press freedom seems to be fully operational in Luxembourg. According to a 2017 Eurobarometer survey, its residents are among the EU’s biggest consumers of print, radio and TV news, and have the highest levels of trust in the media. Whether a cause or consequence, print media enjoys a significant degree of pluralism. Thanks to generous state funding, the daily papers faithfully reflect the views of the country’s main political parties. A reform of the media subsidy system envisages distributing this funding more fairly, and extending it to online media, which has emerged in recent years. Subsequent to the LuxLeaks revelations about Grand Duchy’s huge system of tax avoidance for multinationals, the court of cassation finally recognised that whistleblower Antoine Deltour’s “theft” of information served the public interest. This has set a precedent that bodes well for the freedom of expression (as advocated by the European Court of Human Rights) at the local level. But press freedom suffers from multiple constraints. The judicial system balks at providing the media with the details of its rulings, while government ministries are reluctant to hand over technical documents. Luxembourg’s small size is also a problem for the media. They tend to be gagged by economic interests, whether linked to individual owners or funding through advertising. Questions are raised about the independence of state-funded Radio 100,7 and about the Bertelsmann-owned digital media group RTL, which is indirectly funded by the state via a public service concession. Widespread collusion, pooling of information and other pernicious practices all threaten Luxembourg’s fragile press freedom. But there have been two other positive developments: a single journalists’ union (ALJP) was formed in late 2017 and an almost entirely subscriber-funded online media outlet (reporter.lu) was set up in 2018.
17 in 2018
14.72 in 2018