Sunday, Mar 26, 2023

We’re fine as we are, Press tells EU as Brussels plans media freedom law

We’re fine as we are, Press tells EU as Brussels plans media freedom law

The new proposal aims to protect media organizations from political and economic meddling - but publishers worry it could interfere in their business.

Brussels has put forward a new law to protect deteriorating media freedom and pluralism across Europe — but press publishers argue it will have the opposite effect.

The European Media Freedom Act proposal aims to buffer newsrooms from political and media magnates' meddling and limit the buildup of massive media conglomerates. New rules could give media authorities a greater say over mergers, and outlets would have to disclose their owners — direct and indirect.

The Commission’s plan for an EU legislation is a response to the growing threats to media freedom across the bloc. Hungary and Poland have ramped up efforts to control the media, amid wider assaults on the rule of law in both countries. The problem is much broader with journalists in Greece, Slovenia and Malta reporting under difficult conditions and pressure from their governments.

“For the first time in EU law, we are presenting safeguards to protect the editorial independence of the media,” said Commission Vice President Věra Jourová at a press conference on Friday.

The unprecedented move has press publishers — which had already tried to kill the law during consultations — up in arms.

“Media regulators can now interfere with the free press, while publishers are estranged from their own publications,” said Ilias Konteas, executive director of the European Magazine Media Association (of which POLITICO's owner Axel Springer is a member) and the European Newspaper Publishers Association.

"The press has always operated on the basis of the principle of freedom of a publisher to set up their business and work jointly with their journalists to deliver news and information to citizens in Europe and across the world."

Unlike radio and television broadcasters, which are overseen by independent media regulators, the press in most EU countries so far has relied on self-regulation in the form of ethics codes, press and media councils, or ombudspersons.

Now, publishers' lobbies fear the law could limit their editorial control over their publications. A newly-proposed pan-European group of national media regulators is also at the center of their worries: This body, they say, could oversee their editorial activities.

The Commission has fiercely rebutted these arguments, with top officials arguing that, contrary to publishers’ criticism, the rules would instead introduce better safeguards for journalists to make independent editorial decisions.

“For some who say the EU should not regulate their media landscape in Europe, we have a message; we believe the opposite: We need to have good rules,” Jourová said.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton emphasized during a press conference that there was “absolutely no attempt from the Commission to grab power.”

The European board would not enforce rules on the disclosure of ownership and on potential conflicts of interests that could affect editorial decisions. It would also not oversee new rules mandating that editors must be free to make individual choices, said a Commission official. Instead, if the law is passed as currently written, the rules could be used in legal disputes before courts but wouldn't be enforced by media regulators.

European Commissioners Věra Jourová and Thierry Breton at a press conference on the European Media Freedom Act

“What the board will do is [issue] some nonbinding opinions when it comes to [media] concentration, where there could indeed be some print media involved, but this is really totally different from saying that we are putting the press under new regulatory authority,” said a Commission official.

The independent group — which has in the past been used by audiovisual regulators to share standards — will largely advise the Commission, give opinions, coordinate on potential sanctions against foreign state-funded media sharing propaganda, and act as a forum for best practices. The body would comprise the EU's 27 national audiovisual media authorities.

Press publishers may criticize the law, but journalism and press-freedom associations, as well as broadcasters, have largely stood behind the proposal.

Nearly 20 journalism and press-freedom associations including Reporters Without Borders, Civil Liberties Union for Europe and the European Federation of Journalists said that the draft EU law should go even further to shield media from undue political and commercial interest.

Noel Curran, director general of the European Broadcasting Union, applauded the Commission’s plan to “reverse the threats that the entire media sector is facing, alongside its actions to protect the rule of law.”

The Commission's plan "is not trying to get rid of any best practices or to undermine situations that are already able to guarantee plurality and independence of the media,” said Maria Luisa Stasi, the head of digital-markets law for ARTICLE 19, a nonprofit.

For publishers and the Commission, this is just the start of a long fight, as the plan still needs to face the careful scrutiny of the European Parliament and the EU Council, representing member countries' governments.


Related Articles

Powell: Silicon Valley Bank was an 'outlier'
Bordeaux town hall set on fire in France pro democracy protest
Police violence in Paris
Donald Trump arrested – Twitter goes wild with doctored pictures
NYPD is setting up barricades outside Manhattan Criminal Court ahead of Trump arrest.
Credit Suisse's Scandalous History Resulted in an Obvious Collapse - It's time for regulators who fail to do their job to be held accountable and serve as an example by being behind bars.
Paris Rioting vs Macron anti democratic law
'Sexual Fantasy' Assignment At US School Outrages Parents
The US government has charged Chinese businessman Guo Wengui with leading a $1 billion fraud scheme that cheated thousands of followers out of their money.
Credit Suisse to borrow $54 billion from Swiss central bank
Russian Hackers Preparing New Cyber Assault Against Ukraine
"Will Fly Wherever International Law Allows": US Warns Russia After Drone Incident
If this was in Tehran, Moscow or Hong Kong
TRUMP: "Standing before you today, I am the only candidate who can make this promise: I will prevent World War III."
Drew Barrymore
China is calling out the US, UK, and Australia on their submarine pact, claiming they are going further down a dangerous road
A brief banking situation report
Lady bites police officer and gets instantly reaction
We are witnessing widespread bank fails and the president just gave a 5 min speech then walked off camera.
Donald Trump's asked by Tucker Carlson question on if the U.S. should support regime change in Russia?.
Silicon Valley Bank exec was Lehman Brothers CFO
Elon Musk Is Planning To Build A Town In Texas For His Employees
The Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse effect is spreading around the world, affecting startup companies across the globe
City officials in Berlin announced on Thursday that all swimmers at public pools will soon be allowed to swim topless
Fitness scam
Market Chaos as USDC Loses Peg to USD after $3.3 Billion Reserves Held by Silicon Valley Bank Closed.
Senator Tom Cotton: If the Mexican Government Won’t Stop Cartels from Killing Americans, Then U.S. Government Should
Banking regulators close SVB, the largest bank failure since the financial crisis
Silicon Valley Bank: Struggles Threaten Tech Startup Ecosystem"
Man’s penis amputated by mistake after he’s wrongly diagnosed with a tumour
In a major snub to Downing Street's Silicon Valley dreams, UK chip giant Arm has dealt a serious blow to the government's economic strategy by opting for a US listing
It's the question on everyone's lips: could a four-day workweek be the future of employment?
Is Gold the Ultimate Safe Haven Asset in Times of Uncertainty?
Spain officials quit over trains that were too wide for tunnels...
Corruption and Influence Buying Uncovered in International Mainstream Media: Investigation Reveals Growing Disinformation Mercenaries
Givenchy Store in New York Robbed of $50,000 in Merchandise
European MP Clare Daly condemns US attack on Nord Stream
Former U.S. President Carter will spend his remaining time at home and receive hospice care instead of medication
Tucker Carlson called Trump a 'demonic force'
Kamala Harris: "The United States has formally determined that Russia has committed crimes against humanity."
US Joins 15 NATO Nations in Largest Space Data Collection Initiative in History
White House: No ETs over the United States
U.S. Jet Shoots Down Flying Object Over Canada
Nord Stream terror attack: David Sacks breaks down Sy Hersh's story
Being a Tiktoker might be expensive…
Miracle: El Salvador Search and Rescue teams, with the support of Turkish teams, rescued a woman and a child from the rubble 150 hours after the earthquake
SpaceX, the private space exploration company, made a significant breakthrough in their mission to reach space.
China's top tech firms, including Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, and, are developing their own versions of Open AI's AI-powered chatbot, ChatGPT
This shocking picture, showing how terrible is the results of the earthquake in Turkey
President Joe Biden delivered the 2023 State of the Union Address , in order to help Americans that missed the 2022 speech, do not have internet, and suffer from short memory.