EU: German Council Presidency paper on "rethinking media pluralism"

The Germany Presidency of the Council of the EU (July-December 2020) has put the issue of media pluralism high on its agenda. An internal Council document sets out some of the thinking going on behind the scenes.


Presidency discussion paper: Safeguarding a free media system: Rethinking media pluralism (9215/20, LIMITE, 6 July 2020, pdf)

The paper has been circulated with a view to discussion in the Council's Audiovisual Working Party today, 15 July.

The issue was also raised at an "informal videoconference" of EU justice ministers on 6 July, and the next day the German Presidency announced a "digital conference series on EU media policy, noting the "importance of an independent, plural media landscape and high-quality journalistic content for the democratic opinion-forming process, particularly against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic."

What this means in practice remains to be seen. The Presidency's paper concludes:

"The pandemic has acted as a catalyst and has exposed or exacerbated many media policy problems. We have been made very aware of the importance of the media, but also of the fragility of the media ecosystem. We should therefore seize the opportunity, while respecting the competences of the Member States and taking into account our different social, societal and cultural characteristics, to jointly design ways to ensure and strengthen media pluralism and freedom of expression throughout the European Union."

Member state delegates from the Audiovisual Working Party are asked six questions:

  1. Regulation on safeguarding media pluralism was oriented towards conventional media and primarily aimed at ensuring a variety of providers and content. Has this concept of media pluralism changed in your view? And if yes, what are the relevant factors?
  2. Free access to reliable and diverse information is of crucial importance, especially in times of crisis. Which major challenges for media companies have been highlighted or intensified by the crisis? How can media policy help to overcome these challenges?
  3. An increasing volume of EU regulation, such as regulation in the area of the digital single market, has a major impact on the media. What structural changes or adaptations could be made at EU level to ensure that the overarching objectives of media pluralism and freedom of speech are duly preserved?
  4. Digital platforms offer a variety of information and content. What requirements such as accessibility, transparency and non-discrimination must be fulfilled by platforms so that their role as gatekeepers is consistent with the objectives of media pluralism and freedom of speech?
  5. How can we establish principles and define criteria that guarantee the findability of reliable information?
  6. With a vast amount of content available across borders, what is necessary to ensure that Member States and national regulatory authorities are able to enforce the existing (national and European) rules for media regulation that safeguard media pluralism and encourage freedom of expression?

Presidency discussion paper: Safeguarding a free media system: Rethinking media pluralism (9215/20, LIMITE, 6 July 2020, pdf)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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