News Media Europe

EU must try harder for a free and competitive European press

Press releases , June 21, 2023


-Brussels, 21 June 2023-

European news publishers regard the today’s general approach on the European Media Freedom Act by the EU Council as a “mixed bag”.

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director of News Media Europe, reacted: “The Council intends to create a single market for the media but fails to help companies to compete. This is does not make sense.

While we welcome safeguards against political interference – including from third country actors – and for the protection of journalistic sources, using “national security” and “public interest” exceptions to spy on news media professionals is simply unacceptable and undermines press freedom.  From a commercial perspective, press publishers will finally benefit from more transparent audience measurement systems from big tech.

News Media Europe recalls that news media is historically self-regulated to ensure that the press can fully exercise its role in democracy and to hold those in power to account. EU rules should protect the press, not regulate it.

Van Wijk added: “The EMFA should not be a regulation of the press through the back door. The last thing a free European press needs is scrutiny rules. We need concrete remedies against media capture and political interference, and the ability to scale and compete.

We express reservations about harmonised rules when national rules remain more appropriate for some of the issues the EMFA seeks to address. This is the case for instance with the assessment of media concentrations. The mandate does not facilitate media consolidation in challenging times, whereas scale is necessary to compete with big tech (Article 21).

The same holds true for state advertising rules, where the Council fails to target all administrations and to consider advertising placed on social networks (Article 24). Member states run the risk of never restoring transparency and competition in this space.

Other aspects are more positive, such as safeguards ensuring that citizens’ access to professional and reliable content will be protected (Article 17). Putting an end to big tech censorship is a matter of cultural sovereignty. Yet we need to clarify that the integrity of media sources relies on applicable regulations and industry standards, not on arbitrary rules dictated by Silicon Valley and organisations outside the profession.

Useful links:

News Media Europe’s position and amendments


Wout van Wijk

Aurore Raoux: