MEP Casa welcomes new proposal for a European Media Freedom Act

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MEP and Co-Chair of the Media Working Group David Casa welcomed the proposal for a European Media Freedom Act, a legislative initiative by the European Commission that aims to improve media pluralism across the EU.

It was launched on the 59-month anniversary since the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Casa said that the Media Working Group had been calling for better media guarantees, and that the proposal was a very welcome development in the campaign for journalistic protection.

Casa explained that media freedom and pluralism was facing more and more threats, requiring more protection against economic and state pressure. The proposal includes frameworks to facilitate quality media services and to ensure that economic resources were distributed fairly, without inappropriate government interference.

“The pandemic pushed the print media close to the brink,” Casa explained. “In Malta and in many other EU states, governments financed relief packages for media companies but did not always do so transparently.”

As we emerge from the pandemic, state intervention is still present in advertising revenues generated from taxpayer money. Casa outlined the worst case scenario where government-friendly media could be given preferential financial treatment from taxpayer money.

“We must avoid a situation where editorial decisions can be influenced by the government coffers.” 

Casa called for more transparency in the way taxpayer money was used to finance media services, adding that “government intervention can distort the playing field for news providers, harming competition, distorting the market and information flows.”

Casa lamented Malta’s decline in press freedom indexes, noting that the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) ranked Malta at medium risk overall, and at high risk in the areas of editorial autonomy and political independence of the media.
 
“The proposal is a timely one, and I thank Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová for her tireless work in the run up to today’s presentation.

“On the 59-month anniversary of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we are also reminded of the work that still needs to be done. Not only to strengthen our democracies, but to make it safer for journalists to do their job in the public interest.”

Casa pledged to work toward strengthening the proposal in his parliamentary work.

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