The European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) and the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) have published a policy paper taking a closer look at the provisions on transparency of media ownership within the proposal for the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) and their shortcomings to make recommendations on this topic vital to media pluralism, media freedom, and democracy. We need meaningful transparency at both the national and the EU level, which can be achieved by creating media ownership databases.
Transparency of media ownership strengthens the accountability of media service providers, while with the support of public scrutiny, it enforces media freedom and pluralism. Transparency of media ownership also improves the functioning and convergence of the EU media market. Moreover, transparency is key to informing the public about possible political interference and allowing regulators to prevent media ownership from being excessively concentrated in the hands of too few owners, which have undue influence over democratic discussions.
The recommendations we make regarding media ownership transparency are the following:
- Mandate transparency of media ownership for all media service providers;
- Establish an EU-wide database of media ownership;
- Ensure national regulatory authorities or bodies develop and maintain national databases of media ownership;
- Expand the list of media ownership data to be provided by media service providers;
- Oblige media service providers to report on media ownership information to their national regulatory authorities or bodies;
- Mandate yearly reports on media ownership data by national regulatory authorities or bodies;
- Include the obligation for data on media ownership to be made publicly available free of charge, in an electronic and user-friendly manner accessible for people living with disabilities;
- Include an obligation to update the published information within 30 days of any change occurring; and
- Introduce a specific requirement in the European Media Freedom Act for a publicly available media ownership database connected to public interest.
Read the full policy paper here.