EBU position on this issue

  • Ensure a transparent and fair online playing field
  • Shed transparency on platforms’ data usage and ensure access to data  
  • Public value content needs to be easy to access and easy to find
  • Protect freedom of expression and respect editorial integrity of the media
  • Ensure that platforms are held properly accountable

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What is at stake?

The Internet is a key space for accessing content and information. Alongside their radio and TV channels, public service media (PSM) in Europe have developed their own trusted online spaces enabling audiences to access high-quality and diverse content.

Online users increasingly access content through global platforms including social media, video sharing platforms, search engines and voice assistants. As PSM, we want to ensure that audiences can access and find content of public value online. Third-party platforms have become important gatekeepers controlling the ability of content providers such as PSM to reach audiences. We need appropriate measures to create a more level playing field and ensure that platforms’ practices are transparent, fair and accountable (not least to human rights such as freedom of expression and the media).


“We want to ensure that viewers are always aware that a rich offer of public interest programming is available, and just a click or push of a button away.”


Ensure a transparent and fair online playing field 

Given their market power, major online platforms could engage in harmful practices which only serve their business interests. The 2019 EU Regulation on platform-to-business (P2B) practices is a first step in the direction of more fairness in platforms’ trading practices. It sets new provisions to boost transparency on terms and conditions and ranking/algorithms. But we call on the European Commission and the Observatory on the Online Platform Economy to monitor the situation closely and gather evidence. The EU need to be ready to take further action as required considering the fast-moving nature of the market and the impact on digital competition and innovation in Europe.

Shed transparency on platforms’ data usage and ensure access to data   

Understanding what content or service was consumed and how it was consumed allows content providers such as public service media to gain a better understanding of audiences’ needs and expectations. Similarly, understanding how citizens value and respond to their services or content offered through online platforms allows content providers more generally to better tailor their offers and to better and more fairly compete with services offered by online third-party platforms themselves. In addition to proper enforcement of the EU P2B Regulation’s transparency rules, we need safeguards in place to grant users access to data generated by or related to services or content these users offer on online platforms, always respecting personal data protection and privacy rules.

Public value content needs to be easy to access and easy to find

Public service media play a central role for democracy by providing a means to inform citizens, shape public opinion and offer a window to the world. In an online environment, platforms tend to organise and present content at their own discretion. There is a risk that platform operators will focus on driving viewers towards content that suits their commercial interests to the detriment of programmes with a public interest angle. Prominence – or findability as it is often called – is a crucial principle to ensure citizens are sufficiently aware of public service content and other content of particular value to society.

To promote fairness and uphold citizens’ trust in content online, the service or content’s source including its branding needs to be clearly visible or recognized on the platform. The risk of poor or no attribution of brands is becoming increasingly relevant and pressing with the increasing use of voice assistants.

Protect freedom of expression and respect editorial integrity of the media

Radio and television continue to be the most trusted media in Europe. Audiences must be able to rely on the integrity and authenticity of media service providers’ programmes and services, including when they are distributed over third-party online platforms.

Such protection is all the more necessary as a counterweight to the spread of disinformation and it will allow media service providers in Europe to continue playing an important democracy-enhancing role in public opinion formation.

Ensure that platforms are held properly accountable

Millions of citizens, not in the least young audiences, turn to an online platform for content. These platforms, whether they are search, social media and news aggregators, are undeniably impacting public opinion today by sorting and selecting news and information. In many cases, the online platforms’ role is not limited to simply hosting content or services and thus cannot be qualified as a purely passive one.

Unlike print and broadcast media, it is left to the intermediaries themselves and so-called community standards set by them to determine how they exercise their role as information intermediaries. Amid the battle with the continued spread of misinformation and fake news, holding platforms to account has never been more important than it is now.

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