European Media Freedom Act: Striking the Right Balance

European Media Freedom Act: Striking the Right Balance

The European Commission has published its European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). Media independence and media pluralism are cornerstones of European democracy and freedom. Well-functioning and stable public service media are a key pillar to ensure that these values are promoted and preserved. Safeguards for the governance of public service media enable them to fulfil their mission and respond to the democratic, social and cultural needs of society and its citizens, as enshrined in the so-called Amsterdam Protocol attached to the EU Treaty.

The EBU is pleased that the EMFA recognizes, in principle, this vital role of public service media in Europe. It will however be important during the legislative process to ensure the right balance between single market objectives and national competencies to shape media pluralism and independence, social and cultural issues.

Noel Curran, Director General, EBU, said: “We welcome any effort to support public service media and to reverse the threats that the entire media sector is facing, as well as actions to protect the rule of law. We recognize that this initiative acknowledges the key role that public service media play in providing citizens with objective news and information, as well as bringing them together with quality content and entertainment. We also believe it has to respect existing EU Law and safeguard the competence of member states.”

Delphine Ernotte-Cunci CEO, France TV and President, EBU, said: “Freedom of expression is key for our democracies. So is an independent media, both public and commercial, free from political or economic interference. The EMFA aims to protect these values. We look forward to continuing the debate with the EU Institutions and ensuring a robust defence against current and future threats to the media sector.”

As the work on the EMFA continues, the EBU will work with policymakers on improving the proposed draft and also to extend provisions into the online space, complementing the Digital Services Act (DSA) with specific rules to protect freedom of expression and pluralism. In particular, the EBU advocates: ensuring that general interest content is visible and findable online; offering clear brand attribution; and securing an effective recourse in the face of takedowns and suspension of media content by online platforms.