Media sector letter on the protection of sources

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Brussels, 2nd May 2023

Dear Member States’ representatives,

We, the undersigned European organizations, representing thousands of media outlets, journalists and all other media workers across the EU, welcome the intentions of Article 4 of the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), which “aims to guarantee that journalists and editors can work without interference, including when it comes to protecting their sources and communications”.

The right to protect sources is an integral part of a journalist’s right to freedom of expression and is guaranteed by Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Protecting media, including journalists and their sources, against any threat to their independence and security is a non-negotiable condition for effective journalism and editorial freedom. It constitutes a fundamental cornerstone of our democracies: the right of citizens to be informed on matters of public concern. Without proper safeguards, the media cannot fulfill its role as the fourth power in our democratic societies.

Tomorrow, we will mark World Press Freedom Day as Europe faces increasing threats to journalists alongside threats to the anonymity and safety of their sources. Under the theme ‘Shaping a Future of Rights – Freedom of expression as a driver for all other human rights’, it is understood that the work that the media and journalists do is fundamental to our democracies.

However, we consider the protections foreseen in the Commission’s draft to be insufficient to effectively shield journalists from undue interference, prohibit surveillance of journalists and protect journalistic sources and communications. The proposed provisions are in fact a step backwards as they do not correspond to the protections as provided in Article 10 ECHR and the related case law.

The current compromise text, which is discussed at the Council, also needs more ambition to realize the intended benefits of Article 4. We therefore call on the Council to strengthen the EMFA proposal along the lines of our joint amendment suggestions.

Your sincerely,

Grégoire Polad – Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT)

Marianne Bugge Zederkof – Association of European Radios (AER)

Wouter Gekiere – European Broadcasting Union (EBU)

Renate Schroeder – European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Ilias Konteas – European Magazine Media Association & European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (EMMA/ENPA)

Angela Mills-Wade – European Publishers Council (EPC)

Wout van Wijk – News Media Europe (NME)

Johannes Studinger – Media, Entertainment & Arts sector of UNI Europa