News Media Europe

Submission to the public consultation on EU Digital Fairness

Position papers , February 20, 2023

News Media Europe submitted its contribution to the European Commission’s public consultation on EU Digital Fairness. The submission can be accessed in full, here.

News media play a central role in democracy, acting as public watchdogs – the so-called “fourth estate”. It is therefore important to highlight that this sector should be treated differently than ordinary online businesses. The business of news is fundamentally a business of trust with citizens and online audiences. 

Retaining and acquiring new subscribers through business-to-consumer contracts is crucial for the development of a more sustainable and diverse information landscape. This is even more true considering the existential threat posed to our industry by online platforms and their dominance of the online advertising market. 

Online contracts concluded with news subscribers are also different from other goods and services in that they offer consumers with instant and direct access to content that can easily be stored and shared. It is therefore fundamentally different from goods that require shipping or other services which do not involve digital content. 

While news businesses should not be exempt from consumer law, we urge the European Commission to consider the impact that the measures discussed could have on subscription models and by extension our sector. The Commission should not facilitate the circumvention of fair subscription agreements by consumers. 

For more information, contact:

Iacob Gammeltoft, EU policy manager