The European Commission is finalizing its proposal for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), upcoming legislation that has the potential to greatly protect and strengthen media freedom in Europe.
Numerous threats could be confronted
Prague has said that it will make the Media Freedom Act a priority of its Presidency of the Council of the EU. However, the statement the Czech Presidency published recently is evasive and meaningless.
The EMFA could dramatically bolster media independence and pluralism, enhance protections of journalists and media workers, and safeguard freedom of expression and information therefore it should be top priority for the Council.
The EMFA also offers an opportunity to address the numerous threats that actors across the EU media landscape face. Political pressure on both public and private media, media concentration, lack of transparency in ownership, non-independent media regulatory authorities and partial public service broadcasting in a significant number of EU member states, improper allocation of state aid and subsidies, financial sustainability, and protection of journalists are among the most pressing issues.
What should be in it
The Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) urges the European Commission to propose a strong EMFA that will tackle these challenges and protect the values the EU is built upon. To this end, we recommend the following:
subsidies to media companies. These principles should include political impartiality, transparency of funding, accountability, eligibility, and feasibility.
A can’t-miss opportunity
The EMFA could reshape the EU media landscape for the better, improving Europeans’ access to quality media and strengthening and enriching Europe’s media environment. But it can only do this if it is equipped with the necessary tools, and if it is given the priority it deserves.
Now all eyes will be on the Commission as it finalizes its draft, and on the Czechs to see if they follow through and indeed prioritize this much-needed legislation.