NEWS published on 03 Oct 2023

European Parliament shows leadership in protecting media freedom offline and online

European Parliament shows leadership in protecting media freedom offline and online

Public service media welcome the outcome of today’s plenary vote in the European Parliament on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). We now call on the Council and the Commission to engage in constructive negotiations with the Parliament in the upcoming trilogue.

Wouter Gekiere, Head of the EBU’s Brussels office, comments: “MEPs have effectively improved the draft EMFA regulation. They have adopted strong principles to promote the independence of public service media, protected journalists and their sources, and safeguarded vetted media against censorship by global online platforms. We strongly urge the Parliament’s negotiating team to settle for nothing less during the trilogue negotiations.”

Healthy democracies require independent media. That is why the European Broadcasting Union supports the safeguards to shield public service media from government interference. This can be in relation to their editorial line, their management boards, or their funding. However, European media’s independence can only be guaranteed if also large online platforms, devices and user interfaces used to access editorial content comply with clear rules. Against this background, public service media commend the following improvements adopted by the European Parliament:

  • Article 17 re-balances the relationship between large online platforms, their moderation guidelines, and algorithms on the one hand, and the freedom of the media on the other. Citizens must have access to professionally produced media content abiding with high editorial standards on platforms where dis- and misinformation can easily thrive.
  • Article 19 introduces a new obligation for device manufacturers and user interfaces to clearly attribute the editorial responsibility to media content. This is not only crucial so that the media can sustain a proper relationship with their audiences. Also, citizens should be able to easily recognize who bears the editorial responsibility over the media content they consume.
  • Article 23 goes beyond pure transparency requirements for audience measurements carried out by large online platforms. A useful obligation to share audience measurements with the media outlets concerned was added.

Wouter Gekiere adds: “Big platform operators have tried everything they can – through sometimes rather questionable lobbying techniques – to dilute the EMFA’s provisions and escape from new obligations. Yet, MEPs have shown leadership in protecting media freedom today, both offline and online. They have seen the game played by large platform providers and kept their eyes on the overarching goal and principles of this Act.”