News Media Europe

Adoption of the Media Freedom Act: high expectations for the protection of the press

Press releases , March 13, 2024


-Brussels, 13 March 2024-

With the adoption of the European Media Freedom Act today in the European Parliament, the EU is sending a strong message to protect the freedom of the press. The EMFA equips media companies with clear and tangible rights, including:

  • The protection of journalistic sources and confidential communications, free from spyware. Derogations on the ground of national security must be very strictly limited.
  • The right to operate free from political interference in the single market. Unjustified and arbitrary suspensions of press cards, tv licenses or newsroom closures must simply end.
  • Unhindered visibility of professional media content on very large distribution platforms, putting an end for instance to abusive or frivolous take-downs by social networks like X(Twitter);
  • The end of platforms’ opaque audience measurement systems which have a direct impact on publishers’ readership, content performance and advertising revenues;
  • The transparent and non-discriminatory allocation of state advertising, without precluding the necessary funding of local and regional media.

Wout van Wijk, Executive Director of News Media Europe, said: “The EMFA is first and foremost a protection instrument, not a regulatory tool, for European newsrooms. We will make sure that our rights are effectively upheld”.

Going forward, Member States need to enforce the regulation, directly applicable in national legal systems. We insist on three main points:

  1. The press must stay self-regulated, at all costs. Self-regulation and independent editorial control guarantee that journalists can report freely and hold figures of power to account, without the fear of retaliation nor censorship. Democracy cannot properly function otherwise. This also means that regulations cannot interfere with the day-to-day operation of newsrooms (Article 6.2).
  2. Citizens must have unhindered access to professional journalism online.  The EMFA must serve as an effective communication instrument between large platforms and the media to fix any disagreement about content visibility (Article 17). Press publishers expect clear procedural safeguards, not a box-ticking exercise. Also, compliance with internet regulation, and in particular the Digital Services Act, cannot be used as an excuse to over-remove content.
  3. There is no editorial independence without financial independence. From the perspective of private media, the interpretation of concentration rules must be flexible enough to allow a media group to acquire a title for economic viability (Article 21). The involvement of the Board at European level must not slow down much needed transactions (Article 22).

News Media Europe will continue to actively engage with EU Institutions and the new Board of media service providers to ensure that the EMFA works as a protection instrument for the press in Europe.

Contact: Aurore Raoux (EU Policy Manager)