Media groups seeking to acquire smaller competitors will have to ensure their deals guarantee media pluralism and safeguard editorial independence, according to draft rules announced by the Commission. European on Friday.
The Freedom of the Media Act is part of the European Union’s strategy to prevent political interference in the media and espionage of journalists. It also requires state advertising to communication service providers to be transparent and non-discriminatory.
The proposed rules come amid concerns about media freedom in Hungary, Poland and Slovenia and foreign interference in countries holding national elections.
“Democracy will only work if journalists have the means and the necessary protection to keep those in power, whether they are political or economic actors, in check,” Commission Vice President Vera Jourova told a news conference. .
“This law should be seen as a piece of a larger puzzle. It is part of our efforts to protect democracy in general and bring order to our digital information space,” he said.
The rules will apply to radio and television broadcasters, on-demand audiovisual media services, press publications and large internet platforms and video-sharing platform providers.
They will have to be negotiated with EU countries and lawmakers before they become law, in a process likely to take a year or more.
The proposed rules require regulators to examine whether merging companies would remain economically sustainable in the absence of a deal.
There are safeguards against the use of spyware against the media, journalists and their families. The EU executive and a new European Council for Media Services can weigh in on whether both criteria are met.