13.03.2023 - The European Treaties knowingly do not provide a competence for the regulation of media pluralism at the EU institutions all the while taking into account the diversity of linguistic and cultural areas in the member states and regions of Europe. The mainly on the commercial aspects of media focused approach of the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) ignores this, overlooks the cultural implications, and thus threatens to negatively change well-functioning media systems adapted to the respective circumstances. In this respect, it is not only not needed, but it endangers an essential pillar of European democracies.
We welcome that the discussions on the EMFA in the European Parliament and the European Council have recognised that an EU-wide regulation might lead to unintended consequences. Splitting the European Media Freedom Act into a directive and a regulation, as reportedly currently under consideration by the CULT-Committee, could be a step into the right direction. As stipulated in our previous submissions, a careful examination of the necessity and possible impacts of the proposed provisions on the media regulations of the Member States is of the utmost importance.
In case of doubt, a minimum harmonisation by a directive is the most suitable and appropriate instrument for the media sector for regulatory aspects that ensure media pluralism. Notwithstanding, the undersigning associations emphasise the necessity of further changes to the provisions, as outlined in their respective positions.
The EMFA contains provisions that clearly focus on establishing, preserving, and securing media pluralism in Europe. Audio and audiovisual media services and press, following the diversity of the linguistic and cultural areas in the Member States and regions of Europe, are mainly national, regional, or even local services. Against this background, regardless of the question of the correct legal basis, the Member State level is the legally correct and only suitable level to set out rules for safeguarding media
Therefore, at the very least the following provisions of the EMFA should be moved to a directive and further revised to give leeway to the Member States while implementing them in a way that fits best for their relevant media markets – if there is no sufficient national regulatory regime on those topics already.
While acknowledging the competence at Member State level and therefore moving articles into a directive, this must as well lead to the deletion of Art. 20 EMFA, which in the end narrows down the room for manoeuvre of the Member States by introducing a supervision of the usage of their competences.
APR – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Privater Rundfunk
BDZV – German Newspaper Publishers and Digitalpublishers Association
MVFP – Medienverband der freien Presse
VAUNET – German Association of Private Media