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Media literacy in the digital age

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Media literacy in the digital age

The production and consumption of media in the digital age is transforming the media sector. Broadband networks are becoming more accessible and participation in the creation of online content is creating unprecedented volumes of information and content, prompting the Commission to support media literacy initiatives.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 20 December 2007 - A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment [COM(2007) 833 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


Media literacy is defined as the ability to access, understand, critically evaluate and create media content.

It is essential for the development of active and aware citizenship. It gives European citizens the opportunity to better pinpoint the cultural and economic dimension of all types of media associated with digital technology (television, cinema, video, websites, radio, video games and online communities).

A high level of media literacy can contribute to achieving the Lisbon objectives by fostering the emergence of a knowledge economy and by boosting competitiveness in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and media sectors.

Media literacy can give a new boost to European audiovisual policy. The Commission's Report on implementation of the new " Audiovisual Media Services " Directive will give an account of media literacy levels in the Member States up to 2011. This Directive also relates to the MEDIA 2007 support programme by focusing on access to audiovisual works and promotion of European audiovisual heritage.

How can the effectiveness of media literacy be guaranteed?

The Commission considers media literacy in three fields:

  • online content;
  • commercial communication;
  • audiovisual works.

Effective media literacy allows users to critically evaluate online content. The Commission wishes, for example, to develop a critical approach to commercial communication as an alternative to bans on certain practices.

Media literacy must generally encourage online accessibility aimed at ensuring that developments in the information society can be enjoyed by disabled or disadvantaged persons or those discriminated against due to their sex, ethnic origin, age, religion or sexual orientation.

For audiovisual works, media literacy involves raising awareness of European cinematographic heritage and the support for audiovisual creativity.

This communication is based on the conclusions of the wide public consultation launched in October 2006 (pdf), which focuses on spreading good local and national practice in the field of media literacy.

In light of all these priorities, Member States are invited to:

  • encourage the national authorities responsible for regulating audiovisual and electronic communications to play a bigger role in media literacy initiatives;
  • regularly monitor media literacy initiatives and define new evaluation criteria;
  • develop codes of conduct or legislative frameworks by involving all interested parties, namely the national regulatory authorities, consumer associations, content providers and producers, media sector companies, educational establishments and cultural and research institutions.


The Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and online information services industry underlines the importance of media literacy.

Media literacy initiatives will be established as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Last updated: 30.01.2008