What is ERC?

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 December 14th 2017, its third Regulatory Board took office.

The regulatory objectives for the media sector to be pursued by ERC are:

a) Promote and ensure cultural pluralism and the diversity of expression of various schools of thought, via the media organisations that are subject to its regulatory supervision;
b) Ensure free transmission of media content by media organisations and free access to content by those for whom the media content is intended, in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner and in such a way as to avoid any kind of social or economic exclusion, while ensuring efficient allocation of scarce resources;
c) Ensure protection of more sensitive audiences, such as minors, in terms of content and services that may harm their development, offered to the public by the media organisations subject to its regulatory supervision;
d) Ensure that the information supplied by the providers of editorial services is guided by strict criteria and journalistic rigour, enforcing editorial responsibility before the general public by the service providers subject to its jurisdiction, in the event of proof of breach of the applicable legal rules and principles;
e) Ensure protection of consumers, as the addressees of media content services, in relation to communications of a financial nature or purpose, distributed via electronic media, by service providers subject to its regulatory supervision, in the event of breach of advertising laws;
f) Ensure the protection of individual personality rights whenever they are placed into question in the context of the provision of the media services subject to its regulatory supervision.

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.