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MEPs improve the Media Freedom Act with safeguards for public service media

07 September 2023
MEPs improve the Media Freedom Act with safeguards for public service media

On 7 September, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) Committee voted to approve its compromises for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). The CULT Committee’s text has improved and strengthened the EMFA proposal for public service media.

Wouter Gekiere, Head of the Brussels Office, EBU said: “The EMFA is a unique opportunity to establish strong principles to shield Europe’s media from interference from governments and private interests, including from online platforms. After a disappointing result in the Council, we warmly welcome the work that the CULT Committee has done. This is especially true around measures in Article 17 to rebalance the relationship between media service providers and big tech platform operators, relating to restrictions and suspensions of media content. The CULT Committee’s compromises ensure that content with high editorial standards remains available online for citizens, while also complementing obligations in the Digital Services Act.”

Further areas that will have a positive impact for public service media include:

  • clearer and more ambitious safeguards for public service media independence including their governance and funding
  • improved protection for journalistic sources, including for encrypted communications and clearer limits for the deployment of surveillance technologies
  • a new obligation for digital device manufacturers and user interfaces to ensure that the identity of the media service provider who has editorial responsibility for a media service is consistently and clearly visible and identifiable for the users
  • meaningful rules on audience measurement so that media service providers can receive, in a comprehensible, comparable and timely manner, the audience data related to their content and services

However, the EBU regrets that stronger measures were not added to ensure the prominence of general interest media services. In times where digital device manufacturers and user interfaces determine how media services are presented based on purely commercial objectives, audiences must be enabled to easily discover and access a diverse media offer, with reliable information, and local and regional content. The European Parliament has missed a crucial opportunity.

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