Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), Centre right MEPs have backed moves for a major shake-up in media regulation.
This comes as the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee votes this week on the European Media Freedom Act.
The EPP Group says that it “firmly believes” in the independence of the media.
A spokesman said, “Independent media serve as a public watchdog, a crucial pillar of democracy, and, at the same time, are a significant part of our economy.”
“With the European Media Freedom Act, the EU is creating a legal framework for greater cultural diversity, freedom, and independence of the media in Europe, in order to preserve the editorial independence of European media outlets, to improve media regulation through transparency measures and, lastly, to protect journalists across Europe”, said Verheyen.
The Culture and Education Committee also includes online players such as platforms and search engines in the scope of the new law. “They are key gatekeepers to what we see in our everyday life. It is not possible to regulate media without the online world”, added Verheyen.
The Act has been negotiated by EPP member Sabine Verheyen, who is Chair of the Committee.
“Regulating media is a delicate balancing act. We have to make sure that the measures are carried out with moderation and that the cultural dimension doesn’t take a back seat to the economic aspects”, continued Verheyen.
The new law would require Member States to respect the effective editorial freedom of media service providers and improve the protection of journalistic sources.
Media service providers would have to ensure transparency of their ownership by making this information publicly available. Public authorities would have to publish information on their advertising expenditure to ensure that the allocation of state advertising is non-discriminatory and transparent.
“We cannot close our eyes to the fact that media freedom is under serious threat in several EU Member States. We firmly stand by the side of free media and have worked for a balanced legal text”, concluded Verheyen.