ACT Feedback on Roadmap on European Democracy Action Plan
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Commercial broadcasters welcome the proposed Roadmap on the European Democracy Action Plan as broadcasters are invested and committed at all levels to “nurturing, protecting and strengthening our democracy”. Producing and distributing news has a cost. Each year broadcasters invest millions in professional and fact checked news disseminated across our thousands of generalist channels and dedicated news channels in Europe (a majority of which are operated by commercial entities). We play a major part in informing the public, offering diverse opinions and editorially responsible content. This role is crucial towards ensuring media pluralism and a healthy democratic discourse in our societies.
Regulators have duly recognised this is placing heavy regulatory requirements on broadcasters. The media landscape has changed and with it a number of regulatory asymmetries have appeared, notably online. The EDAP should be a measure, with other instruments such as the DSA, to achieve a regulatory level playing field while ensuring European citizens are equally protected no matter what distribution means they choose to access content and information.
This should ensure that the problems identified by the Roadmap – disinformation, erosion of media freedom and pluralism, quality decrease of public debate, threats to the integrity of elections caused by external interferences – are aptly tackled. As such we call on the Commission in its Action Plan to put more emphasis on the economics of the media sector and focus on the main disruptive factors, such as the spread of disinformation on global online platforms as identified in the roadmaps and recently set out in the EC’s DSA inception impact assessments and public consultation documents.
Finally, the Roadmap in its treatment of the Covid-19 impact should outline how the epidemic has magnified the phenomenon identified and further legitimised the need to tackle the issues at hand. As such, we trust that the EDAP as “a non-legislative initiative announcing further steps to come” will highlight clear areas towards extending platforms’ responsibility while ensuring the robustness of the media sector.