Parliament must protect media personnel
Changes needed to the Media Freedom Act.
Proposed last September by the European Commission, the Media Freedom Act is a welcome movement towards delivering protection and safeguarding independence for some of the most influential workers in European society. A functioning media sector provides Europeans with impartial, trustworthy information that functions as a central pillar of our democracies. Attacks on the press by right-wing authoritarians have, time and time again, shown why Europe needs to legislate to protect workers in the sector.
Despite the positivity in pushing forward with efforts to protect media workers and their independence, the Commission’s proposal needs improvement to be truly effective. As outlined in our consultation response to the text, there is a need to provide safety, employment stability, transparency and fairness in the media field and protection of information sources in European legislation. While the text will contain overlapping elements within the Whistleblower directive and anti-SLAPP legislation, a standalone text defending the industry and its workers should be as comprehensive in the protection it provides as possible.
With the digitalisation of workplaces, journalists and media workers face a number of new and emerging risks in their daily activities. The act must safeguard against these risks by removing the ability of Member States, non-state and quasi-state entities and others to impact the editorial freedom of outlets and journalists through surveillance via spyware in any device or machine used by media personnel or others where this might lead to access to journalists’ sources. The ongoing conversation and debate around the use of certain applications provides an insight as to why this certainty is so desperately needed, with enforceable measures a necessity for guaranteeing editorial freedom for workers.
In an age where misinformation is rampant throughout Europe, citizens and consumers justifiably question where they source the media they consume. Consumers should be entitled to information in relation to their media service providers’ links to business, government, political parties and any other interests that could influence their strategic decision-making or their editorial line. We are encouraged to see this clause included in the act, and ask that national regulatory authorities or bodies monitor and produce yearly reports regarding the ownership in media markets within their Member State, with the establishment and operation of a European Database of Media Ownership, collecting information related to the ownership of media service providers. Transparency must be at the forefront of media regulation to curb the rise of alternative-facts and fake-news in European public discourse.
Eurocadres will continue to advocate for the most robust Media Freedom Act possible, with workers in this sector deserving of additional supports and protection. While the Commission’s proposal moves the conversation forward, we look forward to improving the text, together with other organisations and workers’ representatives, within the European Parliament.