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S&Ds: Media Freedom Act protects journalists from pressure to reveal their sources

Date

03 Oct 2023

Sections

Global Europe

The Socialists and Democrats have today led a majority in the plenary of the European Parliament – with their priorities included – for the adoption of the European Media Freedom Act. Thus, they have improved the European Commission proposal for a Regulation put forward one year ago. Thanks to the S&D Group, the European Parliament goes to negotiations with the member states in the Council of the EU and the Commission with a clear position: national governments must stop putting pressure on journalists to reveal their sources with the universal excuse of national security interests. The S&D Group believes citizens have a right to know who owns the media that informs them – and they have also included a provision in this regard. These so-called inter-institutional trilogues will start now and the S&D Group hopes to conclude a deal before the end of this year.

Petra Kammerevert, S&D co-coordinator in the committee on culture and education and negotiator of the group on EMFA, said:

“Just last week, several journalists were arrested in France and were put under pressure to reveal their sources. In the EU, such incidents have been increasing for years, often making the work of journalists impossible. In a democracy, journalists may not be arrested or spied on simply for doing their job. In the provisions we included in Article 4, we protect journalists, editors and their professional contacts against surveillance and against pressure and we reject any general exception to this protection on the grounds of national security. We, the Socialists and Democrats, are long-standing supporters of media pluralism, freedom of expression and journalists. We want to be coherent with our position on blatant cases, such as the Pegasus spyware scandal in Greece, and we do it with our work on this proposal for legislation.

“Speaking of freedom of speech, it is crucial our citizens know who the owners of media are. We, as Socialists and Democrats, have strengthened the rules on transparency regarding media ownership, so that everyone can see who owns media outlets. Furthermore, we have extended the protection of editorial teams from undue interference by owners or management within media houses. Editorial independence is frequently under unwarranted pressure and must be vigorously safeguarded. Media oversight as well as the new European body for media services will have to be completely independent from state influence, including from the European Commission.

“Since every person in Europe has the right to enjoy a variety of different media, ensuring free access to trustworthy media content online is particularly important. By establishing clear procedures for dealing with demonstrably trustworthy content, we will ensure that the media is no longer at the mercy of online platforms. Under these rules, it will no longer be Mr. Musk and Mr. Zuckerberg alone who decide what European citizens are allowed to see online. This is needed to continue to fight disinformation, and to ensure people have access to trustworthy information on social media.

“I am happy the vote today by the plenary of the European Parliament reconfirmed the improvement made by the S&D Group to the Commission's proposal for a regulation and we will fight forcefully for this decisive piece of legislation to make a real change in the way people access, discuss and share information in Europe.”

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