Free media, free minds!
European Media Freedom Act
Guaranteeing the freedom of the media and enhancing the protection of journalists will remain one of our top political fights before the end of this parliamentary term. Read on to find out more about our 5 priorities to make this happen!
1. Enhancing transparency
We need transparency of media ownership. Our citizens have the right to know who owns the media they consume every day in order to be able to make informed decisions. Moreover, clarity on how the state authorities and state controlled companies allocate advertising to the media companies is a necessity. Citizens need to know the extent to which the state uses its resources to conduct media campaigns in order to understand the influence it has when it comes to viability of the media market. It is crucial to have also an oversight on how the state authorities use emergency messages and if that tool is not misused.
Our citizens have the right to know who owns the media they consume every day in order to be able to make informed decisions.
2. Protection of journalists
It is essential to create a framework that protects journalists against the disclosure of their sources and against the deployment of spyware. Any action interfering with journalistic sources should be taken in the absolute last resort and only if disposed by a court of law or a judge. We have seen many instances where authorities tried to force journalists to disclose their sources in spite of existing soft-law provisions from the Council of Europe or the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. What is more, the examples of use of Pegasus software to spy on journalists in several Member States are a compelling argument for us to want to strengthen further the standards proposed by the Commission.
3. Safeguarding editorial independence
European citizens should have the right to receive unbiased news produced with respect for editorial freedom without any interference. Media owners have the right to determine the overall editorial line of the media outlet they own, but editors in chief and editors should work in full independence from any influence coming from above. Media are businesses, but this is not an ordinary sector as they deliver on the freedom to receive and impart information, the cornerstone to the functioning of our democracies. This freedom cannot coexist with censorship from media moguls, self-censorship by the journalists, or state capture of media landscape. Public service media providers have a special place in our democracies to provide impartial quality news and plurality of opinion. We should make sure that public media have sufficient safeguards for their independence throughout the Union and give the power to the journalists themselves to have legal remedy to fight for their editorial independence.
Public service media providers have a special place in our democracies to provide impartial quality news and plurality of opinion.
4. No to Putin’s propaganda:
The integrity of the internal market for media services is challenged by providers that systematically engage in disinformation, including by state-controlled providers financed by certain third countries. The continued spread of Putin’s propaganda is not acceptable. Unfortunately, there are still European companies who facilitate the spread of such lies. This is why Renew Europe wants to include media service providers established in the Union in the scope of this Regulation. We also need to create a legal tool so that Member States can react to propaganda without waiting for EU sanctions.
5. Concentration of media markets that influence media pluralism
Excessive concentration of media markets can have severe negative impact on the plurality of news and should be properly scrutinised and assessed. Such assessments should highlight distortions of the functioning of media markets while bring clarity and predictability to market players to facilitate cross-border ownership and foster professional corporate culture of respecting editorial freedom. Media should have a special place in our internal market in order not to distort media pluralism or infringe on their rights to provide quality and professional news. KESMA in Hungary or the acquisition of Polska Press by the state-owned PKN Orlen have destroyed media pluralism and media freedom in these Member States. We cannot stand by and do nothing in this regard. We need to prevent possibilities for such political media captures in other Member States. What we need is a strong assessment of such concentrations in order to avoid these situations being repeated. Having the European wide legal safety-nets and the European Board for Media Services as an additional layer of protection against such cases is therefore absolutely essential.
Watch here again our webinar about the Media Freedom Act with the participation European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová.