This week, the European News Media Forum (ENMF) was hosted by the European Commission (EC) in Brussels, bringing together speakers from press, TV, radio, magazines, online media, and more to discuss transformation in the industry.
After a first edition earlier this year about the safety of journalists, this second incarnation of the ENMF focussed on the challenges and innovations of European news media organisations, looking at key topics for the industry including revenue streams, business models, community engagement, diversity, media convergence, new formats and partnerships.
New media freedom act
Addressing the physical and virtual audience, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said that the EC plans to introduce new rules to help protect media freedom across the region.
“To address these concerns, the European Commission will present next year a media freedom act. We want to act against all types of unjustified interferences in the activities of our media companies. We need to make sure that there are media pluralism safeguards, including online, so no one grows too big to care about public debate.”
Importantly in addition to competition concerns, the new act will also set out to tackle hostile foreign interference in European media. It will be drawn up in 2022, following a period of consultation with media and other third parties.
An industry of individuals
Also speaking at the event, Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, spoke passionately about the need to protect not only the media industry as a whole, but the individuals who operate within it.
“It is clear that journalists play a key role in democracy,” she said. “No journalist should die or be harmed for doing their job. We ask members states to take a series of practical measures, with a specific focus on female journalists and those who belong to minorities.”
“Why did we decide to regulate something we call media freedom? It sounds difficult doesn’t it… but we have to react on many different threats, especially politics and economic hardships faced by the industry in Europe. The media does not have any kind of protection in EU rules, and we want something more. So with the upcoming media freedom act we want to address such problems.”