Public consultation response: European Media Freedom Act
Eurocadres has responded to European Commissions public consultation on the European Media Freedom Act. While the initiative is very welcome and brings in much needed protection and transparency measures, Eurocadres' position highlights that proper protection for media workers and greater independence of media need to be guaranteed, among other measures that can be taken to develop the proposal.
Eurocadres, the representative of Europe’s Professionals and Managers, is one of the three recognised European cross-sectoral social partners representing six million employees. We welcome the European Media Freedom Act, which brings welcome support and clarity to the media sector that has faced multiple different challenges in the past years. Our key recommendations for the initiative are the following:
Safe work for media workers
Journalists and media workers need to be protected from any threat of harm. Judicial protection and soft law measures to ensure media workers, their sources, and other affiliates are protected from any retaliation related to their work, should be effective and efficient against threats that have increased in the past years. This includes also protection from any illicit surveillance that jeopardises the basic rights that journalists have as citizens, workers and representatives of independent media. The clarity of the wording should include both internal and external actors that may attempt illegally monitor media workers.
Improving the employment stability of media workers
The media sector has gone through a severe transformation in the past years, where working conditions have moved from regular contracts to either freelancing or otherwise towards atypical working contracts. Providing funding and support to stabilise the wellbeing and employment predictability of the media workers is essential to ensure that the vitality and expertise of the sector does not erode.
Transparent and fair media field
For European democracy to function as a whole, transparent ownership of media and its finances is essential prerequisite for the functionality of the sector. While the transparency requirements of head of management and governing board is a good start, also indirect ownerships and interests of the management of media organisations should be clarified.
In similar manner, the legislative coherence with the digital legislations needs to be ensured. The impacts of algorithms and AI should be taken into account to avoid unwanted legislative gaps between the Digital Services Act, AI Act, and Media Freedom Act. This includes the online media content dimensions related to the very large online platforms, but also the impact that algorithmic transparency and other digital regulations have. The media content should be treated and accessible fairly and legally, no matter in which platform it is being shared.
Finally, the self-regulatory measures of the platforms and media sector need to be subject at least to basic principles set by public actors. Otherwise these measures are poorly complied with or simply inadequate.
Protection of information sources
While the Whistleblower Directive has introduced successfully minimum standards for whistleblower, the Media Freedom Act should be consistent with the same level of protection. While the Whistleblower Directive is still in the transposition in a lot of EU countries, the Media Freedom Act needs to address the protection of the information sources that media relies on.