European Publishers Warn Of Press Freedom Risks

European publishers have warned that a new report could pave the way for the tech platforms to further entrench their dominance of data and push news media publishers out of the marketplace. 

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee adopted its report on the Digital Services Act. The report will serve as a basis for the European Parliament’s plenary vote planned to take place in January 2022.

While the European press sector is in favour of a new asymmetric internet regulation, publishers cannot stand behind a report with such obvious risks for media freedom and pluralism, European publisher trade associations said in a statement.

The European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Publishers Council and News Media Europe ask the European Parliament’s plenary to table amendments for the protection of editorial content and online advertising revenues, or otherwise to reject the report.

Specifically, the associations ask for the IMCO report to be amended in plenary, based on:

  • The JURI, ITRE and CULT committees’ concrete solutions to keep lawful press content up, binding on all intermediaries (Article 12) or on Very Large Online Platforms (Article 27);
  • Data protection and data-driven advertising should be left to GDPR and the forthcoming ePrivacy Regulation. Any further restriction on consent and use of data going beyond GDPR would be unacceptable.

Should these aspects not be addressed in plenary, publishers call upon the European Parliament to reconsider the report in committee until an “appropriate and reasonable compromise” can be found.

Wout van Wijk, NME executive director, said: “The IMCO report as it stands gives online intermediaries the green light to impose rules and unilateral decisions over legal editorial content. This is deeply worrying from a press freedom perspective.”

Ilias Konteas, executive director of ENPA and EMMA, said: “The report would legitimise by law the fact that the boundaries of press freedom are no longer determined by general laws, but by the Very Large Online Platforms’ terms and conditions.”

Angela Mills Wade, executive directive of the EPC, said: “By adding blanket obligations across the advertising value chain, the IMCO position would entrench the data supremacy of the Very Large Online Platforms and push smaller players out of the market.”