On Wednesday 6 October the European Parliament published a report for the European Commission titled Media in the Digital Decade: An Action Plan to Support Recovery and Transformation drafted by rapporteur Dace Melbārde.
The report was adopted on Tuesday 19 October by the Parliament. It was voted in the Plenary with no changes as to the version voted in the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT.) The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes this report and the recommendations it put forward. The EFJ insists on the need for the European Commission to ensure that all Member States quickly put in mechanisms that ensure a swift recovery and transition.
The report stresses foremost the need for the EU and the Member States to support the media sector and calls on the Commission to strongly encourage the Member States to increase support for them from the funds made available via their approved national recovery plans. It mentions the disruptive impact of global online platforms on the media sector, and the need to address the hegemony of global online platforms on data and advertising markets. The rapid changes in online audience consumption need to be investigated more thoroughly and mechanisms to ensure transparency, accountability and accuracy of online news.
“This is a truly decisive moment to strengthen the European media and audiovisual sector. European media must be provided with substantial financial support and a favourable regulatory framework to help them seize the opportunities of the digital environment. We need to strengthen the economic viability of the sector,” said Melbārde.
The report welcomes the Creative Europe programme and the actions focused on “enhancing media freedom, high quality journalism and media literacy” as independent media are crucial and must remain part of the media landscape.
Other important points include:
- The importance of making permanent the European News Media Freedom (‘NEWS’) initiative, of which the EFJ is a member, helping in particular local and regional media as pillars of democracy. It highlights the need for public funding mechanisms that fully respect editorial independence and are based on the arm’s length principle. EU also needs to promote the creation and growth of digital media start-ups through easier access to finance and a supportive framework for innovation that enables scalability.
- The need to promote the creation and growth of digital media start-ups through easier access to finance and a supportive framework for innovation that enables scalability.
- Increase diversity and gender equality and improved gender portrayal including through the development of new mentoring programmes and campaigns on diversity both in front of and behind the camera to improve the representation of women and disadvantaged groups in society and to encourage them to consider media careers.
- The necessity to conduct a study on news media funding support in the EU and develop guidelines and facilitate the sharing of information and best practices among Member States on public financing mechanisms; The EFJ agrees that this much needed study should be conducted by independent bodies.
- The need for a fair implementation of the copyright directive. It calls on the Member States to urgently transpose Article 18 of Directive 2019/790 and to establish remuneration mechanisms that will generate appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers for the use of their works and performances on all media, in particular online media.
- The dual system of public and commercial media in Europe and the need to protect it. The EFJ agrees that adequate funding for public service media should be implemented to ensure their independence from “governmental, political and market pressures” thus ensuring a diverse media landscape.
- The issue of precariousness in the journalism sector and adequate measures to help ensure a fair income and strong social security for journalists. Freelance journalists must receive fair remuneration in order to be able to continue their essential contribution to Europe’s “newsrooms”. Unions must be able to do collective bargaining on their behalf.
- Support for media, digital and information literacy at all levels.
EFJ Director Renate Schroeder said: “We thank the rapporteur Dace Melbārde for her holistic approach in tackling the challenges the journalism field is facing in Europe. Journalism is a public good, and it must be protected before it is too late. We welcome this latest European Parliament report on media which entails a detailed Action Plan to Support Recovery and Transformation. Now it is on the European Commission and its member states to show that they are committed to independent journalism and media freedom.”
The article was originally published by EFJ on 26 October.