LIECHTENSTEIN AND MEDIA OWNERSHIP



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Liechtenstein Flag (World Atlas)
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Map of Liechtenstein (World Atlas)

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Liechtenstein Location Map (Maps of World 2006)



















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Liechtenstein Coat of Arms







Introduction

Liechtenstein is a small country that lies alongside the Rhine River with an area of just over 160 square kilometres and a distinctively low population of approximately 36,000 inhabitants in 2012 (The World Factbook, 2012). However, around 39% of the population are foreign residents, the majority of them being from Switzerland. The country is landlocked and bordered by two other countries, Switzerland to the south and west and Austria to the north and east. The country is one of the smallest countries in the world. Liechtenstein is a principality and a constitutional monarchy led by a Prince, Hans-Adam II. The capital of Liechtenstein is Vaduz, although the largest city in the country is Schaan. Liechtenstein is among the wealthiest countries in the world. It has the highest gross domestic product in the world with $141,100 per capita as recorded in 2008 and has the world's lowest external debt, even recorded as touching 0% in 2001. Liechtenstein has been praised for its low unemployment rate which stood at 2.8% in 2008. A significant amount of the country lies in the Alps and it is a German speaking country. Liechtenstein is a member of the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area. However, it is not a member of the European Union.



Foreign Relations


In 1999, Liechtenstein developed a negative reputation as a money laundering haven for criminals. Hence, in 2003, a London-based branding agency, Wolff Olins, was commissioned to re-make its image. Wolff Olins is a brand consultancy business that recently worked with the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics in creating their image (Wolff Olins 2012). The aim was to create a good international image that encouraged tourism and good international relations. The result was a stylized crown, that has been praised as the reason for the country's low unemployment rate (Wolff Olins 2012). However, this new image has also been criticised as ineffective internationally, with Hulsse highlighting this image not being used in countries outside Liechtenstein (2009, p. 123).

Relationship with Switzerland

Liechtenstein has a very close relationship with Switzerland. For example, there is no strict border control between Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Foreigners are also able to enter Liechtenstein area with a Swiss visa. This is the reason why countries such as the United States or Australia do not have an embassy in Liechtenstein. As a result, Liechtenstein is represented by Switzerland in terms of diplomatic and foreign trades (The World Book Encyclopaedia, 1995, p. 243). One of Switzerland's national languages is German and this too is Liechtenstein's national language and both countries use the Swiss currency, Swiss Franc. It is observed that Liechtenstein's relationship with Switzerland in economy and politics could have the power to influence it to join the European Union (Beattie 2004, p. 181, cited in Young 2010, p. 284).

Relationship with Austria

Austria and Liechtenstein have historically had a close relationship and have combined this relationship with Switzerland in order to continue to reflect Liechtenstein's foreign policy. Cooperation between the countries happens on many levels, visits at the highest political level to people communicating between Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland for work purposes. Austria and Liechtenstein also have a vast amount of international treaties, including the European Economic Area Agreement. Liechtenstein recently entered the agreement in 2005.

Politics of Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a constitutional monarchy and a principality, which has a democratically elected government and is led by the monarch, Prince Hans-Adam II (Hulsse 2009, p. 125). On March 16, 2003 the public voted in a referendum to give the greater powers. The public voted 64% in favour, giving the Prince greater powers as Prince Hans-Adam II (2009, p. 73) himself has stated. Thus, the Prince now holds more constitutional powers than any other monarch in Europe. He has the right to dismiss the government, approve judicial nominees and dismiss laws simply by not signing them within a six-month period. In 2003, Prince Hans-Adam also announced his son, Prince Hans-Adam II would become the future leader of Liechtenstein. On July 1 the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Otmar Hassler, and Prince Hans-Adam II appointed the first two Honorary Consul of Liechtenstein. The Foreign Act (2009) requires foreigners to speak the German language who wish to migrate to Liechtenstein and accept a code of values common the way of life in the country. Klaus Tschuetscher, who was previously Otman Hassler Deputy Prime Minister, became Prime Minister on March 25, 2009 after Hassler stood down (Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein 2010).
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Prince Hans-Adam II
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Otmar Hassler (Former Prime Minister)
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Klaus Tschuetscher (current Prime Minister)














Media in Liechtenstein

As Liechtenstein is characterised by its small land mass and population, the country's media usage mainly depends on media from its two neighbouring countries, Switzerland and Austria as well as Germany as many people use satellite television from these countries. The media consists of the press, including two newspapers, Liechtensteiner Volksblatt and Liechtensteiner Vaterland and one radio station, Radio Liechtenstein. In 2008, the first national broadcasting channel of Liechtenstein was developed.

The press of Liechtenstein was stated as the freest in the world with freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 40 of the 1921 Constitution. The open and unrestricted internet within Liechtenstein supports this freedom of expression. However, in 2004 the government took over the ownership of Radio Liechtenstein after the previous owners encountered financial difficulties. The local television station, Landeskanal, broadcast national official information over the cable network and anyone can request to broadcast content of national relevance. However, the government has the final say on what content is broadcast. Thus, the government controls both the national radio and television broadcasting content presented to the country (Freedom House 2008).

Public Broadcasting


Liechtenstein Television


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Liechtenstein's first national broadcaster, 1 Furstentum Liechtenstein Television(1FLTV), started its activity to serve the people on August 15, 2008 in German (1 Furstentum Liechtenstein Television 2008). This television station is owned by the government. 1FLTV was established with the aspiration of participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by the European Broadcasting Union. However, Liechtenstein's national television has yet to receive the approval to be a part of the European Broadcasting Union (Eurovisiontimes 2012). Under Article 74 of the Liechtenstein Law Gazette, teleshopping windows must be clearly marked and must be broadcasted for 15 minutes without interruption. Article 74 further asserts that there are more than eight of these teleshopping windows a day. However, in broadcast media, all times added up should not exceed three hours (Liechtensten Law Gazette 2005).




Liechtenstein Radio


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Radio Liechtenstein Logo


Radio Liechtenstein (RL) was first established in Vaduz in 1938. Due to World War II and the privately owned radio's financial problems, it went on trial and was purchased by the government. The radio station of Liechtenstein is currently financed and operated by the government. The October 2003 Liechtenstein Radio Act states that information on art, culture and science have to be included in the broadcasting radio (Pfeiffer 2011, p. 16). However, Radio Liechtenstein did not become a public broadcaster until 2004. The radio has adopted several online platforms for its audiences to access broadcasted content and extra information. These include their official website, Facebook, as well as the sound-sharing community, SoundCloud.

Radio is specifically mentioned in the Liechtenstein Gazette of 2005, stating in Article 42 that political and religious advertising is not allowed on the media platform (Liechtenstein Gazette 2005).

Print Media


The two major newspapers in Liechtenstein are each orientated towards one of the two major political parties (Pfeiffer 2011, p. 15).

Liechensteiner Vaterland

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Liechtensteiner Vaterland is the largest paper in Liechtenstein with approximately 20,000 readers and is based in Vaduz.The paper began distribution in 1918 and is owned by the Vaduzer Medienhaus AG. The Liechtensteiner Vaterland also releases many sub magazines and newspapers. The Liechtensteiner Vaterland delivers its sunday edition every week called the "Liewo". On the last Sunday of each month, the Liechtensteiner Vaterland contains the country's only cultural magazine, Kul. The magazine circulates approximately 35,000 copies. A market innovation and social trends magazine is released approximately 20 times through the year by the Liechtensteiner Vaterland, known as the "Homeland Magazine". The magazine is produced and delivered inside the newspaper. The newspaper also has its own online internet source, the "fatherland online". This allows people in Liechtenstein to connect with important information on demand. The website reaches approximately 100,000 viewers monthly.

Liechtensteiner Volksblatt

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Liechtensteiner Volksblatt is the older news paper of Liechtenstein, established in 1878. Volksblatt literally means "Journal of the People", and the company's slogan is "The Daily Newspaper for Liechtenstein". Volksblatt is the second largest newspaper company with 9,000 circulation every day.

Private Broadcasting


Paid Television Service


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Telecom Liechtenstein Logo


In addition to public free-to-air broadcasting service, there is also a private company that provides paid television service. Telecom Liechtenstein, the largest telecommunication company in Liechtenstein, offers TVision, which is a pay TV service, providing 126 Standard Definition Television channels and 12 high definition television channels from various countries and programs, with some of which are in English. Telecom also provides other telecommunication services such as Internet Provider, mobile and wireless network, land-line networks.





Media Regulations

The media of Liechtenstein have been stated as 'articulating contemporary issues in Liechtenstein society' and in doing so perform their function within the country's society. Furthermore, the Media Act of October 2005, Article 3, outlines the freedom of opinion within the media and states the media are to serve the Liberal democratic order (Liechtenstein Law Gazette Act 2005). In order to promote the diversity of opinion within the media of Liechtenstein, the government supports the media. The government also restricts themselves from interfering with the media in order to maintain the freedom and independence of the media. They are not allowed to contribute more than 30% of wages, but contribute to the media through educating media employees and providing media training (Pfeiffer 2011, p. 15-16). The Media Promotion Act of November 1999 formalised the distribution and coverage of cultural events. This furthered the interactive relationship between the media and the culture of Liechtenstein, forming an inextricable connection. Article 89 of the Liechtenstein Law Gazette demonstrates the measures and methods in order to continue a sense of media diversity in Liechtenstein in holding a pluralistic society and signifies when this may be under breach or threatened. The article addresses the flow of power between owners of media companies and the use of their dominant position upon employees or journalists who can influence the reporting of events and upon market media domination and hegemonic presence in the media in a certain way, shape or form. The article asserts measures should be taken to secure the freedom of expression and choice and that if a dominant figure is abusing ones power the granting of broadcast time or publishing space, cooperation with other market participants, the creation of an Independent Commission will be set up to review content which has been expressed throughout the media. The article states in the situation measures shall be taken against corporate journalism to protect editorial freedom and if there is failure to do so the company must enforce adjustment to entreprueneurial and organisational structures. Article 89 continues to assert that if one figure abuses their power to influence media diversity the supervisory must contact and consult the competition authority and an outside expert in the matter of the situation to asses the impact of the dominant figure or media organisation (Liechtenstein Law Gazette 2005). The Foreign Act of Liechtenstein (2005) requires foreigners to speak the German language who are desiring integration and accept a code of values common the way of life in Liechtenstein. The revision of the Foreign Act has allowed the preservation of the Liechtenstein culture as the German language remains a significant part of the Lichtenstein culture as language remains a significant part of any culture as it continues to connect groups to an identity. The Foreign Act has impacted the media into using the German language to communicate its messages, stories and entertainment to its public. For all people who become newly integrated into Liechtenstein their German speaking skills are effectively at a high standard which allows them to connect with the media of Liechtenstein and allows foreigners to develop their cultural understanding of Liechtenstein (Pfeiffer 2011, p. 12). Furthermore, the Media Act of October 2005, Article 10, states that every media owner of a domestically published medium has to be a resident or established in the country, in an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and can be prosecuted in Liechtenstein (Liechtenstein Law Gazette Act 2005). Thus, it can be stated that the government of Liechtenstein has laws in place to promote diversity in the media and to limit and prevent foreign ownership of media.

Internet censorship


In terms of internet censorship, a report has revealed that approximately 8.9% countries, including Liechtenstein, have no obligations on the legal provisions of offensive and pornographic content on the internet (Mijatovic 2010, p. 16). In addition, the Council of Europe held the Cybercrime Convention in 2001, which aimed to raise awareness about several offences related to unauthorised activities to computer systems and online databases, as well as other contents such as child pornography. The Convention was put into operation in 2004 and received a full support from the 46 Member States. In spite of the fact that Liechtenstein has signed for the Convention, it has yet to endorse the Convention up until 2009. Liechtenstein might have had the desire to remain one of the countries with a high status of press freedom in the world (Akdeniz 2010, p. 267).

Freedom of the Press


As a democratic corporatist of the North/Central European area, Liechtenstein is acknowledged as one of the countries that are most free and wealthy (Young 2010, p. 273). It has been said that in German-speaking countries, there is a high level of professionalism in their journalism because they show a strong characteristic of liberalism in their practice of press freedom (Hallin & Mancini 2004, cited in Puppis 2007, p. 7). This is clearly reflected in Article 3 of Liechtenstein Law Gazette, stating that "The media are free. They serve the liberal-democtratic order." (Liechtenstein Law Gazette 2005). Liechtenstein media consider themselves to play the social role of providing free, relevant information to the public. It is also indicated that journalism tends to favour an information-oriented style and neutralisation rather than an entertainment-based style. Generally, while the freedom of the press is exceptionally valued in this area, there exists a powerful support for regulation of the media from the state (Hallin & Macini 2004, p. 74). Nonetheless, a number of regulations were limiting the media content in Europe until the 47 member states of the European Council, including Liechtenstein, achieved the right of freedom of expression and information. This right was approved by Article 10 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Voorhoof & Cannie 2010, p. 408).

Moreover, the Freedom Information Act went into practice in January 2000 after being introduced in 1999. The act enables anyone to obtain files from the state, municipal organisations and private companies or organisations associated with public activites. The Freedom Information Act places exemptions upon the access to certain information, such as, decision making, public security, disproportionate expenditures, professional secrets and expenditures. The Freedom Information Act states information is released upon a balance of interest assessment, where people have the ability to appeal in court. However, the Data Protection Act of 2002 gives people the ability to correct personal information held by different organisations, both public and private organisation. A Data Protection Commissioner is appointed and he or she monitors The Data Protection Act (Banisar 2004).

Journalism in Liechtenstein


Media in Liechtenstein has a set of journalistic code of ethics, which is contained in Article 7 of the Liechtenstein Law Gazette (2005). There are several values that are embedded in the code, including:
  • Objectivity and truthfulness of reporting information, regarding of its content, the origin, and the reliability of the information. Provided facts also have to be examined in order to prevent false information.
  • Maintaining existing journalistic principles when reporting using new technology.
  • Separation of objective reporting and subjective comment or opinion by stating the commentator.
  • Methodology of gathering information, including polls.

This is an example of statement form when journalists are conducting interview. It is clearly stated in the 'Agreement' section that the process of interview by journalists for public broadcast media is regulated in the Article 7 of Liechtenstein Law Gazette (2005).

Furthermore, the practice of journalism is also regulated in other laws. For example, to obtain personal data of someone's profile, journalists are required to reflect to Data Protection Act (Liechtenstein Law Gazette 2005, Article 16). In Data Protection Act 2002 Article 13, data holders have the right to refuse and restrict personal data request by media employees if such data may threaten their privacy or public reputation.

Protection of Journalism


In order to protect journalists and maintain their safety, Liechtenstein government imposes protection of journalism law. In Article 19 of Liechtenstein Law Gazette (2005), journalists and media owners have the right to maintain the secrecy of confidential information such as personal details of the journalists, personal details of the informants, and any documents that may threaten their security. Journalists have rights to report information that may contrast the company's perspective, and the company is not allowed to reject such information and also not allowed to intervene with the processing of information.

Advertising

The advertising of Liechtenstein is quite heavily regulated. Articles 40 through 44 of the Liectenstein Gazette (2005) state Advertising has to be, clearly separated from other content in the medium being used, cannot be offensive (such as offensive to religion, politics, race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, unfair advertising) and has to promote health, safety and protection of the environment, medicinal advertising is banned and alcohol advertising is heavily restricted, as minors are subject to moral, physical or mental harm there are further restriction focused towards this demographic including not depicting minors persuading their parents to purchase goods and or services (Liechtenstein Gazette 2005). These regulations illustrate how the government of Liechtenstein take measures to contain the influence advertisers have over society.

The duration and interruption of advertising is also regulated. Advertising cannot interrupt programs and has to be inserted during transition of programs. Advertising can only interrupt a program if the program's duration is longer than 90 minutes, and only one interruption is allowed. According to Article 73, the maximum duration of advertising is 20% of daily broadcast time, excluding advertising from government officials and organisations. The maximum duration of teleshopping windows, which means direct advertising of goods and services, is also limited to three hours per day, as stated in Article 74 (Liechtenstein Law Gazette, 2005).









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