EU Parliament Passes Landmark Media Protection Law

The European Parliament has cast a decisive vote, ushering in a new era for media protection across the European Union. With 464 votes in favor, 92 against, and 65 abstentions, lawmakers have signaled a robust commitment to safeguarding journalists and media outlets from undue political and economic influence.

The landmark regulation mandates that EU member states must actively protect media independence, explicitly banning any form of interference in editorial decisions. This includes a prohibition on authorities pressuring journalists to reveal their sources, whether through personal detention, sanctions, office raids, or the installation of surveillance software on electronic devices.

In a significant victory for privacy rights, the European Parliament has established strict controls on the use of surveillance software. Such measures will now be permissible only in serious criminal investigations, subject to case-by-case judicial approval. Individuals under surveillance will be informed and granted the right to challenge the monitoring in court.

The regulation also addresses the editorial independence of public media. It stipulates that leadership positions within public broadcasters must be filled through transparent and impartial procedures, with secure tenure to prevent politically motivated dismissals. Furthermore, the funding of public media is to be transparent, objective, sustainable, and predictable.

In a move towards greater transparency, all news and current affairs media are required to disclose their ownership in a national database. This applies even to state-owned or state-influenced outlets, regardless of size.

The fair distribution of state advertising is another cornerstone of the new rules. Media outlets must now reveal their revenues from state advertising and funding, including contributions from non-EU countries. Detailed reports on the allocation of state advertising funds will also be made public.

To counteract potential overreach by major online platforms like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram, the regulation introduces a mechanism to prevent arbitrary content restrictions or deletions. Platforms must notify media outlets prior to taking action on their content, allowing for a response within 24 hours.

Sabine Verheyen (EPP, Germany) highlighted the critical role of media pluralism in democracy, while Ramona Strugariu (Renew, Romania) emphasized the regulation as a tool for journalists to resist pressures and challenges. The new EU regulation stands as a testament to the bloc’s dedication to media protection, journalist safety, media independence, and transparency in media ownership.

The European Parliament approved a new EU regulation for the protection of journalists and media from political and economic interventions, with 464 votes in favor, 92 against, and 65 abstentions

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