Welcome to the website of the Press Council (CdP)
It took a long time for the written press in Luxembourg to finally organise itself under one umbrella organisation. For although there has been an “established” and regularly published local press in Luxembourg since the 19th century, it was not until 1979 that the Press Council was established by law.
On 20 December 1979, the “Loi relative à la reconnaissance et à la protection du titre professionnel de journaliste” was passed by parliament. So shortly after the Thorn-Vouel government (the first without conservative participation since the Second World War) was replaced. The social-liberal coalition had already introduced state press subsidies in 1976 in order to prevent a massive death of newspapers.
It should be noted that the text of the law was signed by the then CSV prime minister Pierre Werner and the former prime minister and short-term minister of justice, the liberal Gaston Thorn. At that time there was neither a minister nor a state secretary who would have been responsible for media policy.
The functions of the Press Council are manifold. The one that is probably most noticed by the public is the issuing of official press cards. These go to journalists who are either employed by one of the media houses based in Luxembourg or to freelance journalists. Conditions include proof that the applicant derives most of his/her income from journalistic work and that he/she has completed a two-year period of training, during which he/she must attend compulsory courses organised by the Press Council. The subjects of the courses are the code of ethics, authors’ rights, Luxembourg institutions, the press law, etc.
The press cards are issued by the Cards Committee. This commission is composed equally of journalists and publishers and is chaired by the president of the Press Council. This commission will become more important once the reform of the Press Assistance Act is completed. This reform provides, among other things, that financial aid will no longer be based on the quantity of editorial contributions but on quality, i.e. the number of journalists with a press card who have been recruited will be decisive.
The plenary session of the Press Council will also be equally composed of journalists and publishers. The term of office is two years. The number of members varies between 30 and 34. The Plenary Assembly meets periodically to discuss and adopt the work and proposals of the Executive Board.
The Executive Board (also with equal representation) consists of the President, the General Secretary, the Treasurer, two Vice-Presidents and three assessors. The first three offices alternate every two years between the publishers’ and journalists’ group.
In addition to the card commission, the Press Council also has other commissions: The “Commission des plaintes”, which deals with appeals from the population against media professionals, the “Commission d’appel des cartes de presse”, which deals with appeals in the event of refusal of a press card, the training commission, which organises training courses for prospective and established journalists, the commission dealing with “Media Literacy” and organising, among other things, the annual “Concours jeune journaliste” with the SCRIPT and the Ministry of Education, etc.
An important task of the Press Council is to be the guardian of the code of ethics for professional journalists. When the press card is issued, each professional journalist receives a bound copy of the Press Code and the Code of Ethics. Everyone must acknowledge receipt of these documents by signing them.
Initially located in a building on the Theaterplatz in Luxembourg City, the Press Council is now located in the “Maison de la Presse”, 24 rue du Marché-aux-Herbes in Luxembourg, opposite the Grand-Ducal Palace and the Chamber of Deputies. The administrative office (secretary: Myriam Kerschen) is open mornings and afternoons on weekdays and can be contacted by telephone on 00352 22 23 11-1. Mailaddresse: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noticed in the margin
The use of press equipment for self-regulation of the press dates back to 1916, when the Swedish Press Council was established. This idea was taken up by Finland in 1927 and by Norway one year later. It was not until 1947 that the concept of the “General Council of the press” was turned into reality in Great Britain. Further press devices were available in Germany from 1956, in Austria from 1961 and in the Netherlands from 1968. Today, there are about 40 presses worldwide, half of them in Europe.
The role of the press council
Claude-Jean Bertrand, an expert in the field of media, said at a European meeting of the Press Complains Commissions in London in 1999: “A press council is a non-governmental association of people who wish to protect the freedom an quality of the news media, mainly by making them accountable to the public. And they do this mainly – but not only – by receiving complaints from the public, and giving their opinion on such grievances – with no power to punish except by exposure, i.e. publication.