Free media are a key pillar of every democracy and they are essential for a healthy market economy. On a global scale, the European Union remains a stronghold for free media, setting a standard as a democratic continent. Yet, there are increasingly worrying trends. Building on past efforts, the Commission has taken a number of measures to protect media freedom and pluralism in the EU. This has culminated in the European Media Freedom Act proposal, which was put forward by the Commission on 16 September 2022.
New rules to protect media pluralism and independence
The European Media Freedom Act proposed a new set of rules to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU. They will ensure that media – public and private – can operate more easily across borders in the EU internal market, without undue pressure and taking into account the digital transformation of the media space.
Among others, the Media Freedom Act aims to achieve:
No interference in editorial decisions of media
No spyware against journalists
Independent and adequately funded public service media
Transparency of ownership
Transparent and fair audience measurement systems and allocation of state advertising
Establishment of a new European Board for Media Services
More protection for media against unjustified online content removal
Assessment of market concentrations and requirements on national measures affecting the media
The Commission has also proposed to set up a new independent European Board for Media Services comprised of national media authorities. The Board will promote the effective and consistent application of the EU media law framework.
Journalists and editors will be better protected from undue interference in editorial decision-making and, in the case of public service media, have assurances that their employer is equipped with adequate and stable funding for future operations, in accordance with their public service mission.
EU support for free media
There are also a number of ways in which the EU is supporting media freedom and pluralism, including by:
- Having press and media councils that strengthen the position of press and media councils in a converged media environment (Budget: €500,000)
- Implementing a Media Ownership Monitoring System to provide a country-based database containing information on media ownership (Budget: €1 million)
- The Collaborative and Investigative Journalism Initiative, which equips media outlets and journalists with resources and infrastructure (Budget: €1 million)
- Providing grants to support innovation of local and regional media and boost pluralism (Budget: €2 million)
- Having a rapid response mechanism to provide practical help to protect journalists under threat (Budget: €1.95 million)
- Providing emergency support fund for investigative journalists and media organisations to ensure media freedom in the EU (Budget: €1.8 million)
- Implementing a Media Pluralism Monitor to identify potential risks to media pluralism (Budget: €1.1 million)
- Having Journalism Partnerships to support business transformation and collaborations between media (Budget: €7.5 million)
- September 2022
European Media Freedom Act
- December 2020
- December 2020
- September 2020
- November 2018