The EU wants to guarantee the independence and plurality of the media
by Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday presented draft media freedom regulations aimed at preserving information diversity and the editorial independence of newsrooms in the face of the creation of large press groups or scrutiny of the public.
The Media Freedom Act (MFA) aims, among other things, to avoid political influence on editorial decisions, to prevent the surveillance of journalists and to promote transparency about the ownership structure of media groups and the allocation of advertising revenues by states.
This project is presented in the context of concerns about press freedom in several European Union countries, particularly Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, and attempts at foreign interference during the electoral period.
“Democracy will only work if journalists have the tools and the necessary protections to exercise control over those in power and those in power, be they political or economic actors,” European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova said during a news conference.
“This law should be viewed as one piece of a larger puzzle. It fits into our broader efforts to protect democracy and bring order to our digital information space,” she added.
These rules apply to television broadcasters, radio broadcasters, on-demand audiovisual services, press publications, as well as major online platforms and video sharing platforms.
They need to be validated at Member State level and by the European Parliament before they come into force, which could take at least a year.
Under the European Commission’s proposals, Member States will be responsible in particular for assessing the impact of concentration measures in the media on information pluralism and the editorial independence of the newsrooms concerned.
The foreign ministry also has “strong” provisions against using spyware to monitor the media, journalists and their families, the EU executive says.
(Report by Foo Yun Chee, French version Bertrand Boucey, edited by Sophie Louet)
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