In the European Democracy Action Plan (EDAP), the VAUNET in particular evaluates positively the approach of ensuring the findability of professional media content in a reliable manner. As the protection of free elections and free reporting by journalists are essential prerequisites for democracy, it welcomes the emphasis made on the freedom of the media. The transparency and accountability of platforms through the intended transformation of the Code of Practice on disinformation into a co-regulatory framework in line with the forthcoming Digital Services Act is thereby a sensible step. The focus should be on standardisation, measurability and the development of verifiable criteria for platforms. Regarding political advertising, the announced legislative proposal should create a level playing field with the traditional media.
Equally welcomed are the opportunities provided for in the Action Plan for Europe’s Media in the Digital Decade (previously known as the Media and Audiovisual Action Plan – MAAP) to improve media cooperation, and to finance media services and initiatives. The importance of access to data for the media is also correctly recognised. However, the proposals will need to be examined in detail to ensure that they are contributing to the objective of strengthening media competitiveness. In particular, a holistic approach should ensure that the proposals do not jeopardise the refinancing of the media. Here, the VAUNET also highlights the existential importance of the practice of exclusive territorial or country-based licensing.
Claus Grewenig, Chairman of the Television and Multimedia Department at VAUNET and Head of Media Policy at the Media Group RTL Germany: „What is unfortunately missing from the Action Plan for Media is an overarching regulatory approach that ensures media diversity and refinancing across all instruments. This could be achieved, for example, by means of a mandatory media impact assessment of measures in other regulatory fields, such as data protection, competition, telecommunications, or copyright law. We would like to continue the dialogue with the European Commission to ensure that the concern for EU-wide availability of content does not reverse the objectives of the Action Plan for Media.
It would now be important to achieve a breakthrough in the core objective of the Commission’s two welcomed political declarations of intent and to strengthen sustainable European media providers competing with global platforms. This requires in particular a „well-designed link with the regulatory acts to be adopted this year“, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, which are intended to create a Europe-wide legal framework for digital services.