PRESS RELEASE published on 18 Apr 2018

EBU calls on public authorities to address the full extent of ‘Information Disorder’

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), representing 73 public service media organizations across 56 countries, publishes today a policy paper providing recommendations to build a comprehensive framework that effectively prevents the spread of ‘fake news’ in Europe.

The EBU welcomed the European Commission’s initiative on ‘fake news’ and online disinformation as an important step in the right direction. However, the EBU warns that ‘fake news’ are only the tip of the iceberg of a much broader system of ‘information disorder’. Tackling underlying causes such as the erosion of quality journalism and ethical standards, the loss of revenues for news media and the role of online platforms is crucial to ensure an informed democratic debate.

The EBU encourages a holistic approach combining incentives and regulatory measures to strengthen transparency and accountability of platforms while protecting freedom of speech and supporting pluralism. As such, the EBU underscores the need for great caution on targeted measures aimed at dereferencing, blocking and removing ‘fake news’ to avoid unintended and disproportionate consequences for freedom of expression.

EBU Director General Noel Curran, who recently took part in the EU's High Level Group on Fake News, said: ‘EBU members are in the front line of the fight against disinformation. Faced by unprecedented challenges, public service media play a unique role in promoting the values of quality journalism, media pluralism and unbiased reporting in what some are calling a new age of confusion’.

Independent public service media are a vital asset to deliver accurate and thoroughly-researched news stories to European citizens. The EBU is eager to contribute to the multi-stakeholder Coalition that will develop a Code of Practice to fight ‘fake news’ and disinformation in Europe. Drawing on the depth and breadth of its members’ expertise, the EBU stands ready to share best practices and take an active role in cross-industry and policy initiatives that support fundamental European values and our democratic systems.

The EBU works closely with its Members to support quality journalism and recently launched a Public Service Journalism Initiative. This includes setting up an investigative journalism network, developing an agreed set of trust and transparency standards with partners such as Reporter without Borders as part of the Journalism Trust Initiative and, most recently, establishing a Global Council to Build Trust in Media and Fight Misinformation. Alongside these activities the EBU also runs verification training and workshops and operates the Eurovision News Exchange Social Newswire which clears around 50 items of user generated content every day.