On 29 June, the European Parliament’s committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) adopted significant changes to the draft European Media Freedom Act. Public Service Media thanks the Members of the IMCO committee for their strong commitment to safeguarding media freedom and fostering a vibrant media landscape in Europe. We now count on the lawmakers in the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) to consider these improvements while negotiating the final position of the European Parliament on the EMFA.
The IMCO opinion reinforces the independence requirements of Public Service Media. It usefully clarifies that Member States must ensure that our Members can fulfil their remit in an independent manner, also by ensuring that they have adequate and stable funding. We applaud that the EMFA includes strong principles that shield Public Service Media from interference by governments.
The inclusion of a new obligation aimed at promoting the prominence of general interest media services is commendable. In an era where information overload and the proliferation of disinformation pose significant challenges, ensuring the prominence of quality news and media services is crucial. It is all the more relevant as user choice is increasingly captured by device manufacturers and user interfaces putting their commercial interests first. By placing greater emphasis on promoting the prominence of media services of general interest, the IMCO committee has taken a decisive step in fostering an informed and pluralistic society.
In the digital age, where users increasingly access their news and entertainment through third parties, such as social networks and video-sharing platforms, users must be enabled to easily identify the media service providers whose content they consume. By providing citizens with such a user right, the European Parliament's IMCO committee reinforces trust, transparency and accountability in the media landscape. This provision serves as a bulwark against disinformation campaigns, fake news, and anonymous sources, enabling users to evaluate the credibility and reliability of the information they consume.
The IMCO opinion recognizes the negative effects of takedowns and other forms of restrictions of editorial content by online platforms on media’s editorial freedom. It keeps the general idea of Article 17 as proposed by the Commission intact. As our Members regularly face unjustified restrictions of their content by online platforms, solely based on their own values enshrined in their terms and conditions, the EBU would have appreciated more ambition. The IMCO opinion falls short in equipping media service providers with an effective right to reply prior to any action taken by the platforms. On the positive side, IMCO sets clear deadlines for platforms to treat complaints from media service providers. When content moderation decisions are taken in relation to time-sensitive news and current affairs programs, clear deadlines are crucial.
Audience measurement helps media companies understand their audiences. For Public Service Media, it also is a means to monitor and demonstrate that we fulfil the objectives laid down in our public service remit. However, in today's intermediated world, Public Service Media struggle to get the necessary data from the platforms they operate on. The EBU is therefore grateful that the IMCO opinion goes beyond pure transparency requirements on audience measurement methodologies and ensures media service providers’ access to the audience measurement data in relation to their own content and services.