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Pilot Project – Media Councils in the digital age - Connect/2019/1074575
Deadline: 17 Apr 2019   - 25 days

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 Digital Culture
 Film and Media
 New Media
 Digital Society
 Web
 Journalism

The Commission seeks to ensure respect for media freedom and pluralism with all the instruments at its disposal.

Media freedom and pluralism are fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights (hereinafter ‘the Charter’) and constitute essential foundations of democratic societies.

Quality news media and quality journalism are essential for the functioning of a democratic society. Therefore, free and independent journalism needs to be promoted and protected in the EU and beyond.

Self-regulatory bodies are crucial in promoting respect for media ethical standards and guaranteeing media accountability. However, different bodies have adapted to the online world to varying degrees. For the sake of healthy and trusted media eco-system, media self-regulation mechanisms and media ethics should be strengthened both offline and online.

Legal Basis

Pilot project within the meaning of Article 58(2)(a) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1).

The annual work programme was adopted under Commission Decision C/2018/6834 of 22/10/2018.

 

2. OBJECTIVES – ACTIVITIES – PRIORITIES

The objective of the call under the present Pilot Project is to acquire a better knowledge and to support the activities of media self-regulation bodies.

 

 

In order to protect media freedom and pluralism and to promote professionalism in journalistic content, the action will seek to improve the understanding of the challenges of digital developments through a press / media council cooperation platform, and in parallel, will support the transition of media self-regulatory bodies to the online world. It will also help them engage in discussions with internet intermediaries and other internet media stakeholders.

Through exchanges of best practices, the project will help bringing clarity on how to achieve, in a converged media environment, the goals of media self-regulation.

Activities to be covered by the Project: a) Designing and running a survey:

Conduct an in-depth survey of the state and models of media self-regulation in the digital environment in the territories covered by the project.

The Project should design and conduct a survey on the state and models of self- regulation in the digital environment. The proposal will identify the stakeholders that are active in the field, the information it seeks to gather and explain how it intends to conduct the survey. The proposal will also explain how and which data will be analysed and which outputs it will seek to provide.

b) Building a database

The project will design and fill-in an online database on (news) media self-regulatory bodies (press/media councils or other bodies fulfilling similar activities) that are active in the territories under consideration.

The Proposal will detail how the project intends to build and feed the database (desk research, results of the survey, existing data or other means). It will also indicate the types of data that it intends to collect (e.g. membership types and size, legal status, areas of competences, powers, activities, ethical codes, outputs, etc.)

The database will be made freely accessible to the public in a user-friendly format and provide links to the various information sources.

c) Exchange of best practices

The Project will facilitate contacts and exchanges of practices between existing media councils and other media or press self-regulatory bodies in the EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

Coordination with existing networks and actors working in the field of media freedom, media pluralism and quality journalism, such as associations of media councils, journalists' associations, NGOs and academics needs to be established.

The proposal will explain the means it will take to undertake this task.

d) Establish a pan-EU Working Group

The Project will develop a pan-EU Working Group on the digital challenges to discuss the results and recommendations of the survey. The proposal should explain how the

 

Working Group would be established, its potential membership and the planned means of collaboration (physical and/or online).

Coordination with existing networks and actors working in the field of media freedom, media pluralism and quality journalism, such as associations of media councils, journalists' associations, NGOs and academics needs to be ensured.

e) Support to new press/media councils

The Project will provide support to newly established press/media councils in Europe.

The Proposal will explain how it plans to identify the needs of new press/media councils in the countries covered by the action, as well as the type of support it intends to provide.

f) Global dialogue

The Project will help press/media councils to participate in a global dialogue on media ethics in the digital age. The Proposal will establish an action plan describing which actions it intends to take to help press/media councils to participate in the global dialogue on media ethics in the digital age.

The present call for proposals

The present call for proposals will select a consortium to execute the project as outlined above.

The territorial coverage of this pilot project is the EU Member States and the candidate countries. The additional coverage of other European countries would be considered positively. The focus of this pilot project should in any case be on the EU Member States and candidate countries.

Applicants must demonstrate the ability to attract staff members with proven expertise in the media sector. In particular, applicants must have proven knowledge regarding the actors, role, functioning and activities of journalism self-regulatory bodies/press or media councils in Europe.

All activities shall be conducted in an independent manner.

 

3. TIMETABLE

The indicative schedule for the different steps and stages of the selection procedure are as follows:

(a) Publication of the call

Q1 2019

(b) Deadline for submitting applications

17 April 2019

(c) Evaluation period

Q2 2019

(d) Information to applicants

Q2 2019

(e) Signature of grant agreement

Q2 2019

 

Scheduled start date for the action: as soon as possible upon signature of grant agreement.

The duration of the project shall be maximum 12 months.

 

4. BUDGET AVAILABLE

The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of the project under this call for proposals is estimated at 500.000 EUR (five hundred thousand euros).

The EU co-financing is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of 70% of the total eligible costs.

The Commission expects to fund 1 proposal.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available.

 

5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

In order to be admissible, applications must be:

  •   sent no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3;

  •   submitted in writing (see section 14), using the application form available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news-redirect/634620 and in electronic form (pdf format); and

  •   drafted in one of the EU official languages.
    Failure to comply with those requirements will lead to rejection of the application.

 

6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

6.1. Eligible applicants

Proposals may be submitted by any of the following applicants:

  •   non-profit organisation (private or public);

  •   international organisations;

  •   universities;

  •   educational institutions;

  •   research centres;

  •   natural persons: natural persons are eligible as part of a consortium but the project cannot be coordinated by a natural person.

 

For British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article II.17.3 of the grant agreement.

Affiliated entities

Legal entities having a legal or capital link with applicants, which is neither limited to the action nor established for the sole purpose of its implementation, may take part in the action as affiliated entities, and may declare eligible costs as specified in section 11.2.

For that purpose, applicants shall identify such affiliated entities in the application form.

Country of establishment

Only applications from legal entities established in the following countries are eligible:

  •   EU Member States;

  •   candidate countries.

Proposals from applicants in candidate or associated countries may be selected provided that, on the date of award, agreements have entered into force setting out the arrangements for the participation of those countries in the programme.

Consortium requirements

  •  In order to be eligible, a proposal must be submitted by a consortium composed of at least 2 legal entities.

Supporting documents

In order to assess the applicants' eligibility, the following supporting documents are requested:

  •   private entity: extract from the official journal, copy of articles of association, extract of trade or association register, certificate of liability to VAT (if, as in certain countries, the trade register number and VAT number are identical, only one of these documents is required);

  •   public entity: copy of the resolution, decision or other official document establishing the public-law entity ;

  •   natural persons: photocopy of identity card and/or passport; certificate of liability to VAT, if applicable (e.g. some self-employed persons)

  •   entities without legal personality: documents providing evidence that their representative(s) have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf.

 

6.2. Eligible activities

The following types of activities are eligible under this call for proposals:

  •   studies, analyses, mapping project: (Survey of the state and models of media self- regulation in the digital environment)

  •   data collection and treatment: (Design and fill-in an online database on (news) media self-regulatory bodies)

  •   actions aiming at the creation and improving of networks, exchanges of good practices and coordination: (Organise contacts and exchanges of practices between media or press self-regulatory bodies. Develop a pan-EU Working Group on the digital challenges faced by media and press self-regulatory bodies. Help press/media councils to participate in a global dialogue on media ethics in the digital age).

  •   coordination with existing networks and actors working in the field of media freedom, media pluralism and quality journalism, such as associations of media councils, journalists' associations, NGOs and academics

  •   financial support to third parties (see point 11.8. d)) (Support to new press/media councils)

  •   conferences, seminars

  •   training activities.

Implementation period

  •  the maximum duration of the project is 12 months.

Applications for projects scheduled to run for a longer period than that specified in this

call for proposals will not be accepted.

 

7. EXCLUSION CRITERIA

7.1. Exclusion

The authorising officer shall exclude an applicant from participating in call for proposals procedures where:

  • (a) the applicant is bankrupt, subject to insolvency or winding-up procedures, its assets are being administered by a liquidator or by a court, it is in an arrangement with creditors, its business activities are suspended, or it is in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for under EU or national laws or regulations;
  • (b) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is in breach of its obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the applicable law;
  • (c) it has been established by a final judgment or a final administrative decision that the applicant is guilty of grave professional misconduct by having violated applicable laws or regulations or ethical standards of the profession to which the applicant belongs, or by having engaged in any wrongful intent or gross negligence, including, in particular, any of the following:
    • (i)  fraudulently or negligently misrepresenting information required for the verification of the absence of grounds for exclusion or the fulfilment of eligibility or selection criteria or in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision;
    • (ii)  entering into agreement with other applicants with the aim of distorting competition;
    • (iii)  violating intellectual property rights;
    • (iv)  attempting to influence the decision-making process of the Commission during the award procedure;
    • (v)  attempting to obtain confidential information that may confer upon it undue advantages in the award procedure;
  1. (d)  it has been established by a final judgment that the applicant is guilty of any of the following:

    1. (i)  fraud, within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Article 1 of the Convention on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 July 1995;

    2. (ii)  corruption, as defined in Article 4(2) of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 or Article 3 of the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the European Union, drawn up by the Council Act of 26 May 1997, or conduct referred to in Article 2(1) of Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA, or corruption as defined in the applicable law;

    3. (iii)  conduct related to a criminal organisation, as referred to in Article 2 of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA;

    4. (iv)  money laundering or terrorist financing within the meaning of Article 1(3), (4) and (5) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council;

    5. (v)  terrorist offences or offences linked to terrorist activities, as defined in Articles 1 and 3 of Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA, respectively, or inciting, aiding, abetting or attempting to commit such offences, as referred to in Article 4 of that Decision;

    6. (vi)  child labour or other offences concerning trafficking in human beings as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council;

  2. (e)  the applicant has shown significant deficiencies in complying with main obligations in the performance of a contract, a grant agreement or a grant decision financed by the Union's budget, which has led to its early termination or to the application of liquidated damages or other contractual penalties, or which has been discovered following checks, audits or investigations by an authorising officer, OLAF or the Court of Auditors;

  3. (f)  it has been established by a final judgment or final administrative decision that the applicant has committed an irregularity within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95;

  4. (g)  It has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that the applicant has created an entity in a different jurisdiction with the intent to circumvent fiscal, social or any other legal obligations of mandatory application in the jurisdiction of its registered office, central administration or principal place of business;

  5. (h)  it has been established by a final judgement or final administrative decision that an entity has been created with the intent referred to in point (g);

  6. (i)  for the situations referred to in points (c) to (h) above, the applicant is subject to:

    1. (i)  facts established in the context of audits or investigations carried out by European Public Prosecutor's Office after its establishment, the Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office or the internal auditor, or any other check, audit or control performed under the responsibility of an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body;

    2. (ii)  non-final judgments or non-final administrative decisions which may include disciplinary measures taken by the competent supervisory body responsible for the verification of the application of standards of professional ethics;

    3. (iii)  facts referred to in decisions of persons or entities being entrusted with EU budget implementation tasks;

    4. (iv)  information transmitted by Member States implementing Union funds;

    5. (v)  decisions of the Commission relating to the infringement of Union competition law or of a national competent authority relating to the infringement of Union or national competition law; or

    6. (vi)  decisions of exclusion by an authorising officer of an EU institution, of a European office or of an EU agency or body.

7.2. Remedial measures

If an applicant declares one of the situations of exclusion listed above (see section 7.1), it must indicate the measures it has taken to remedy the exclusion situation, thus demonstrating its reliability. This may include e.g. technical, organisational and personnel measures to correct the conduct and prevent further occurrence, compensation of damage or payment of fines or of any taxes or social security contributions. The relevant documentary evidence which illustrates the remedial measures taken must be provided in annex to the declaration. This does not apply for situations referred in point (d) of section 7.1.

7.3. Rejection from the call for proposals

The authorising officer shall not award a grant to an applicant who:

  1. (a)  is in an exclusion situation established in accordance with section 7.1; or

  2. (b)  has misrepresented the information required as a condition for participating in the procedure or has failed to supply that information; or

  3. (c)  was previously involved in the preparation of documents used in the award procedure where this entails a breach of the principle of equal treatment, including distortion of competition, that cannot be remedied otherwise.

The same exclusion criteria apply to affiliated entities.

Administrative sanctions (exclusion) may be imposed on applicants, or affiliated entities where applicable, if any of the declarations or information provided as a condition for participating in this procedure prove to be false.

 

7.4. Supporting documents

Applicants and affiliated entities must provide a declaration on their honour certifying that they are not in one of the situations referred to in Articles 136(1) and 141 FR, by filling in the relevant form attached to the application form accompanying the call for proposals and available at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/news- redirect/634620.

This obligation may be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  1. (i)  the coordinator of a consortium signs a declaration on behalf of all applicants and their affiliated entities; OR

  2. (ii)  each applicant in the consortium signs a declaration in its name and on behalf of its affiliated entities; OR

  3. (iii)  each applicant in the consortium and the affiliated entities each sign a separate declaration in their own name.

 

8. SELECTION CRITERIA

8.1. Financial capacity

Applicants must have stable and sufficient sources of funding to maintain their activity throughout the duration of the grant and to participate in its funding. The applicants' financial capacity will be assessed on the basis of the following supporting documents to be submitted with the application:

a) Low value grants (≤ EUR 60 000):
 a declaration on their honour.

b) Grants > EUR 60 000:
 a declaration on their honour

AND

  •   the profit and loss account as well as the balance sheet for the last financial year for which the accounts were closed;

  •   for newly created entities: the business plan might replace the above documents;

  •   the table with the financial figures provided for in Annex to the application form, filled in with the relevant statutory accounting figures.

    In the event of an application grouping several applicants (consortium), the above thresholds apply to each applicant.

    On the basis of the documents submitted, if the Responsible Authorising Officer (RAO) of the Commission considers that financial capacity is weak, s/he may:

  •   request further information;

  •   decide not to give pre-financing;

  •   decide to give pre-financing paid in instalments;

  •   decide to give pre-financing covered by a bank guarantee (see section 11.7.2 below)

  •  where applicable, require the joint and several financial liability of all the co- beneficiaries.

If the RAO considered that the financial capacity is insufficient s/he will reject the application.

8.2. Operational capacity

Applicants must have the professional competencies as well as appropriate qualifications necessary to complete the proposed action. The applicants must demonstrate the ability to attract staff members with proven expertise in the media sector. In particular, applicants must have proven knowledge regarding the actors, role, functioning and activities of journalism self-regulatory bodies/press or media councils in Europe.



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