Council agrees on European Media Freedom Act pushed by MEPs

European Media Freedom Act: Council adopts new rules to protect journalists and media providers


The EU’s prime ministers have approved the European Media Freedom Act, a common framework for media services expected to introduce measures aimed at protecting journalists and media providers from political interference.

The Council adopted the law, and is expected to enter into force within less than a month.

The new rules guarantee the right of citizens to access free and plural information and define the responsibility of member states to provide the appropriate conditions and framework to protect it.

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The law could have wide ramifications for Malta’s national broadcaster, whose close control by central government has been a bone of contention for decades since the liberalisation of the broadcast media.

member states will have to ensure – either by law or actions – that public broadcasters have full autonomy and editorial independence from governmental, political, economic or private vested interest.

Member states will be told to ensure the principles of “independence, accountability, effectiveness, transparency and openness” are respected in public broadcaster’s management structures by appointing them in a transparent, open and non-discriminatory procedure.

Directors’ terms will also be established in national law and be sufficient to ensure effective independence of the public media service provider.

Member States will also have to ensure that public service media providers have “adequate, sustainable and predictable financial resources on a multiannual basis for the fulfilment of their public service remit.”

The regulation, pushed through by the European Parliament, responds to rising concerns in the EU about the politicisation of the media and the lack of transparency of media ownership and of allocation of state advertising funds to media service providers.

The law is expected to put safeguards to combat political interference in editorial decisions for both private and public service media providers, protect journalists and their sources, and guarantee media freedom and pluralism.

The EMFA introduces an independent European board for media services to replace the regulators group (ERGA) established under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, composed of national media authorities.

Recent reports from the Commission and the Media Pluralism Monitor have highlighted a number of concerns in the EU regarding issues such as the politicisation of the media, transparency of media ownership and the independence of national media authorities.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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