Position of the NMHH on the proposed EU legislation on freedom of the mass media

Published: 5 April 2022

The European Commission is preparing a proposal to complement the current rules with a comprehensive regulation of the functioning of the media in the internal market. According to the plans of the Commission, in addition to the television, radio and print and electronic media sectors, in certain cases the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) is planned to cover online platforms as well, such as social networks and video-sharing sites. The EMFA is currently in the consultation phase and, in the absence of a draft, its content is not yet known. The National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) supports the creation of the EMFA, provided that it lays down only basic rules and guarantee conditions, but leaves the detailed rules to the Member States.

The NMHH agrees that freedom of expression strengthens democratic debate, and that media freedom and diversity are therefore a fundamental pillar of democratic systems. The Authority therefore welcomes the Commission’s initiative and the overall objectives of strengthening media freedom, independence and pluralism.

However, during the public consultation on the EMFA, the NMHH expressed concerns about the legal basis, framework and scope of the proposed regulation, including in the areas of market entry mechanisms, the operation of public service media and state advertising. In the field of media regulations, the EU’s legislative powers cannot be extended indefinitely to cover the entire media system, as this could infringe on the exclusive competences of Member States. In other words, EU action in these cases could infringe the sovereignty of Member States and their legislative powers.

In addition, due to the different cultural traditions, legal systems and media market specificities, the press and media markets in the Member States are also substantially different. For this reason, the greatest possible caution should be exercised in strengthening and supporting operators in the sector at EU level, rather than creating EU rules of general application. This is particularly true for balanced coverage, public media services, state advertising and market access conditions. Therefore, in the view of the NMHH, the role of the European Union in this sector is most relevant for cross-border services.