40+ rights groups call on MEPs to ensure a strong European Media Freedom Act
09 February 2023
Independent media are under growing economic and political pressure. Many journalists across the EU find themselves in increasingly captured media markets. Independent voices are sidelined because of economic pressures and journalists and media outlets struggle for financial viability.
In a context where politicians often villify critical media outlets and in which access to financial resources is limited, politically influenced media takeovers create an imbalanced media system. A strong European Media Freedom Act will help to protect media freedom, pluralism and independence, and offer scope for further reforms that shore up democracy and the rule of law.
The European Media Freedom Act can and should address these issues and protect free media by outlining European standards on:
- freedom from editorial interference and illegal surveillance,
- guaranteeing media pluralism,
- providing greater transparency on ownership and state financing,
- ending the abuse of state funds to create clientelist media,
- protecting the independence of public service media and the independence of national regulatory authorities, and
- ensuring there is an economic environment in which independent journalism can flourish.
That is why we have joined more than 40 media freedom, journalist, and rights groups to write to European Parliamentarians, calling on them to ensure that the European Media Freedom Act becomes a strong, coherent regulation that establishes harmonised legal safeguards across the EU.
We sent our joint letter to members of the CULT, LIBE and IMCO European Parliament committees on 8 February 2023. The full text is below.
Dear Members of the European Parliament,
We, the undersigned journalists, press freedom, civil society and digital rights groups, are writing to you to reiterate our full support for a strengthened and timely European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).
Many journalists around the EU find themselves in increasingly captured media markets, where independent voices are sidelined by economic pressure. Journalists and media outlets struggle for financial viability and critical media are often discriminated against by (illiberal) politicians blocking access to sustainable financial resources. Others are coerced to report a certain official narrative because of political pressure. Politically-influenced media takeovers create an environment where critical reporters are in the minority.
Media freedom and pluralism is the precondition of stable democracy and the rule of law. Independent media helps to form public opinion and has a direct influence on the outcome of elections.
The EMFA seeks to protect media independence by drawing up common European standards on freedom from editorial interference and illegal surveillance, guaranteeing media pluralism, providing greater transparency on ownership and financial relations with the state, ending the abuse of state funds to create clientalist media, protecting the independence of public service media and the independence of national regulatory authorities and ensuring there is an economic environment in which independent journalism can flourish. These are crucial issues and we call on Members of the European Parliament to engage constructively in this vital debate to ensure that the EMFA becomes a strong, coherent regulation establishing harmonised legal safeguards across Europe.
Association of European Journalists (AEJ Belgium)
Association of European Journalists (International federation)
Association of online publishers, CZ (AOV)
Centre for Democracy & Technology, Europe Office
Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties)
Civil Rights Defenders
Citizens Network Watchdog Poland
Coalition for Creativity (C4C)
Committee to Protect Journalists
Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
DEMAS – Association for Democracy Assistance and Human Rights
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists
European Partnership for Democracy
Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands)
Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
Global Media Registry (GMR)
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR, Warsaw)
Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
Human Rights Monitoring Institute
Human Rights Watch
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Press Institute
Internet Society - Bulgaria (ISOC-Bulgaria)
Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
Media Diversity Institute (MDI)
Novinářský klub Jindřicha Oppera, z.s. (Henry Opper’s club of journalists)
Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
Poland’s Association of Journalists and Authors of the Public Radio, Warsaw
Peace Institute, Ljubljana
Public Media Alliance (PMA)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Society of Journalists, Warsaw
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
Sindikat novinarjev Slovenije
Transparency International EU