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About The Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media - ERC

Creation and status 
The Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media (ERC - Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social) is an independent administrative body established by the law n. 53 of November 8th, 2005.

Through this act, the previous regulatory authority in Portugal, High Authority for the Mass Media (Alta Autoridade para a Comunicação Social) was abolished.

ERC performs the tasks entrusted by the Portuguese Constitution on media regulation and guides its work independently of any lines of approach on the part of political authorities.

ERC operates since February 17th, 2007, when its first Regulatory Board took an oath before the President of the Portuguese Parliament. On November 9th 2011, its second Regulatory Board took office.

ERC is established in Lisbon. 


C
omposition of the board, mode of governance and organization of services
ERC encompasses the Regulatory Board, the Executive Directorate, the Advisory Council, and the Auditor.

The Regulatory Board, responsible for defining and implementing the regulatory activity of ERC, comprises the chairman, the vice-chairman and three board members. Four of the five members of the regulatory board are elected by the Parliament by a majority of two thirds of the deputies and the fifth member is co-opted by the previously elected four. The chairman and the vice-chairman are elected from amongst the five members of the board. All members shall take office before the President of the Portuguese Parliament.

The five members of the board have a 5-year term, not renewable, and remain in office until their effective replacement or termination of service.

The regulatory board meets once a week. Extraordinary meetings may be convened by the chairman, on his own initiative, or at the request by at least two of its members. The regulatory board decides by a majority of the votes cast, being required the vote in favour of at least three members.

The members of the regulatory board shall appear before the competent Committee of the Assembly of the Republic (Committee on Culture, Communication, Youth and Sport), to provide on request information or clarifications on their work.

ERC must inform the Portuguese Parliament of its decisions and activities, by means of a monthly report and also of an annual report on its regulatory activities, as well as the annual statement of accounts, for a debate, preceded of a hearing.

The members of the regulatory board are subject to the incompatibilities and impediments of holders of high public office. During their term of office, they are required to not retain interests of a financial nature or shares in companies that pursue mass media activities and carry out any other public function or professional activity, except with regard to part-time teaching duties in higher education. For two years following its termination, members aren’t allowed to hold any executive post in companies, unions, confederations or business associations of the mass media sector.

Currently, the Board is made up of:

The Executive Directorate is the body responsible for the organization of services and for the administrative and financial management of ERC. The executive directorate consists of the chairman and vice-chairman of the regulatory board, and of the executive director.

The Advisory Council is a consultative body that takes part in the definition of the general guidelines for ERC activity, contributing towards the articulation with public and private entities  representing  relevant  interests  in  the  context  of  the  mass  media  and  associated sectors.

The Auditor is the body responsible for monitoring the legality and effectiveness of the financial and asset management of ERC, as well as for providing advice on this field to the regulatory board. 

ERC is provided with technical and administrative support services, established by the regulatory board according to the respective work programme and to the extent allowed by the budget.

It currently has a staff of 64 employees serving in the following areas: Cabinet to the Board, Cabinet to the Executive Directorate, Legal Department, Media Analysis Department, Supervision Unit, Registration Unit, Management Department, IT and Library and documentation.

ERC staff shall not work or provide other paid or unpaid services to companies subject to its supervision or to other companies whose activity conflicts with powers and responsibilities of ERC.

  

Competencies
The ERC regulation mission comprises all legal persons pursuing mass media activities, within the jurisdiction of the Portuguese State, which include press agencies, newspapers, radio and television operators or all natural or legal persons who make publicly available an edited coherent framework of contents, on a regular basis, through electronic communications networks.

Any citizen or legal person may file a complaint regarding behavior liable to be deemed as an infringement of any legal or regulatory provisions that apply to mass media activities. This procedure is entirely free of charge. Within the framework of its powers and responsibilities, ERC may also act on its own initiative. The decisions of ERC shall be subject to appeal.

In accordance with the Portuguese Constitution, ERC shall be responsible for ensuring:

a) the right to information and the freedom of the press;
b) that the ownership of the media is not concentrated;
c) the media are independent from political e economic powers;
d) the respect for rights, freedoms and guarantees within the scope of the media;
e) the respect for the statutes and rules governing the mass media activity;
f) the pluralistic expression of different trends of thought;
g) the exercise of the right to broadcast, as well as the right of reply and of political response.

ERC shall guarantee the fundamental rights regarding the information provided by the mass media including the respect for pluralism, human dignity, and right of reply.

ERC shall secure that the media are independent, as well as the compliance with the legislation concerning the radio and television services, and shall classify periodicals pursuant to applicable legislation.

ERC shall issue licenses for broadcasters.

ERC is responsible for ensuring the independence and pluralism of public service broadcasters. ERC also issues binding opinions on the appointment of heads of programming of public service broadcasters.

ERC shall also be also responsible, in accordance with Law n. 95/2015, of August 17th, for verifying  and monitoring the duties of communication and transparency on state publicity campaigns and to disclose monthly reports, on its website.

In accordance with Law n. 10/2000, of June 21st, ERC shall have jurisdiction with regard to opinion polls directly or indirectly concerned with political issues published or broadcasted by the media. These polls shall comply with particular scientific and deontological rules laid down by ESOMAR, and shall only be carried out by entities approved by ERC. 

ERC is also responsible for receiving information on ownership, management, equity and liabilities from media companies, in accordance with Law n. 78/2015, of 29 July, and to disclose it publicly in a digital platform, on its website, unless ERC understands that the data’s nature and sensitivity justifies not making them available to the public.


Recent reports/studies:

  • Growing Up between Screens: Use of electronic devices by children (3-8 years) - Executive Summary and Study Presentation
  • Report on Media Consumption in Portugal - Executive Summary, Prologue & Presentation
  • Publics and Media Consumption - Executive Summary
  • New Media: On the redefinition of the meaning of media organisation

 

Contacts:
ERC - Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social |The Portuguese Regulatory Authority for the Media
Address: Av. 24 de Julho, 58, 1200-869 Lisboa - Portugal
Telephone: +351 210 107 000
Fax: +351 210 107 019 
E-mail: info@erc.pt
Website: www.erc.pt
facebook.com/ercpt
https://twitter.com/ERC_PT