NME: Media Freedom Act Must Live Up To Original Intention

A proposed Media Freedom Act to protect the independence of media in the wake of growing threats to their freedom across Europe is a legitimate and timely initiative yet too many of the proposed measures risk undermining press freedom, not protecting it, News Media Europe has said. 

NME said it opposes harmonised restrictions on market concentrations, and that a balance must be struck that distinguishes between “healthy concentration for media survival and sustainability” and “concentration for media capture.”

“Also, the establishment of a European Media Board opens the way for state controls over the media and raises serious questions about independent enforcement. This must go,” NME added. 

“Other points in the Act are helpful to media freedom, in particular measures seeking to protect independent media in countries struggling against unacceptable state interference and the power of oligarchies – for instance in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Balkans. Where we can support those measures, we will. This includes measures to prohibit interference with editorial decisions and disproportionate intervention in media companies’ operations.

“More broadly, we support the protection of newsrooms’ independence, safeguards against unreasonable content moderation by platforms and fair rules on state advertising.”

NME said the Act needs “serious amendment” to overcome these problems.

Aurore Raoux, NME policy manager , said: “We want this Act to achieve its ambition, particularly in countries where democracy and freedom are still very fragile. This is a very complex measure. We will play our full part in the detailed consultations ahead to ensure it achieves its original intentions of supporting democracy. But we will strongly oppose any measures which interfere with the vital freedoms of the media.”