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19 November 2020

European Publishers Welcome EU Council Proposals To Support Sustainable Media

Press publishers in Europe have welcomed the EU Council Conclusions on safeguarding a free and pluralistic media system but warn against trust indicators and the promotion of public communications on the platforms.

In a joint statement, News Media Europe, of which the News Media Association is a member,  the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Magazine Media Association, and the European Publishers Council welcomed the EU Council Conclusions on safeguarding a free and pluralistic media system that have been adopted by ambassadors.

Press publishers consider the conclusions, a set of proposed actions to foster a sustainable, pluralistic and trustworthy media system throughout Europe, a clear recognition of the vital role the media plays in our European democratic system, the publishers said.

They added: “As COVID-19 showed once more the real value of journalism with consumers turning en masse to high quality press products, profits are still declining. As advertising revenue took a dive due to the COVID-19 pandemic, publishers’ business models are systematically undermined by giant tech platforms.”

The Council Conclusions call on Member States and the European Commission to ensure a legal and economic framework that allows media service providers to sufficiently monetize their content.

The Council Conclusion also emphasize that a few large gatekeeper platforms are increasingly influencing the user’s access to media content and therefore calls on ensuring non-discriminatory access and equal treatment for media content providers on gatekeeper platforms.

In addition, press publishers disapprove the promotion of public communications and announcements, especially on gatekeeper platforms, as it only strengthens the quasi-monopolistic position of such companies at the expense of smaller providers.

A spokesman for the sector commented: “The Council recognizes the importance of beefing up Europe’s press ecosystem during a time that is critical for the sector. As we’re striving to bring original and high-quality content to Europeans every day, the right framework to compete with tech giants is needed now more than ever.”

However, press publishers also warn against the suggested development of indicators for trustworthiness of news and media outlets as well as the promotion of fact-checkers by the EU or Member States.

Such indicators, that influence algorithmic decisions on a platform, could have catastrophic consequences for the availability of content and could potentially deprive large groups of society from their news sources.