The media has a vital role to play in any democratic state since it provides an important information platform and drives debate over matters of broad social significance. Through this debate, the media helps shape opinions, highlights social problems and plays an essential “watchdog” role (see the European Court of Human Rights judgment in Bladet Tromso and Stensaas v. Norway dated May 20, 1999).

As such, the task of the media goes beyond merely disseminating facts and ideas, and the public can expect it to perform this broader role (see Constitutional Court judgment file no. I. ÚS 156/99 dated February 8, 2000,).

According to the Czech Constitutional Court, there is a need to take into account the role of the media (as opposed to a specialist publication, for example) in informing the broad public. In certain cases:

[t]he media must – especially given the scope of certain articles and reader interest – engage in a certain amount of simplification and it cannot simply be argued that any simplification (or distortion) automatically infringes the rights of relevant persons. As a result, complete accuracy cannot be expected in factual reporting, and reporters cannot be forced to comply with standards which – ultimately – are unattainable (Constitutional Court decision dated February 8, 2000, file no. I. ÚS 156/99).

The European Court of Human Rights took a similar view in its judgment in Fressoz and Roire v. France on January 21, 1999. The court went so far as to point out that the “freedom enjoyed by journalists also includes some freedom to exaggerate or even provoke.”

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