EANA Statement on the European Media Freedom Act
Free media has always contributed, in our view, to the basis of all democratic societies. A well-developed, sustainable and free media ecosystem provides citizens with valuable and trustworthy information needed for them to make decisions for themselves in times when decision-making all across the globe is plagued by misinformation.
For many years, European media has been constantly pressured by both politics and businesses. In some countries, facing political pressure is just “business as usual” for journalists, while, in others, tech giants have been pushing for use of content without any restrictions, disregarding the value of the journalists’ work.
The latest developments which further underline the need for free and trustworthy media are linked to the most impactful crisis of this century: the Covid19 pandemic and, even more to-date, the war in Ukraine. Both events turn out to be a haven for disinformation campaigns, increasing the “informational noise” and making it more and more difficult for the general public to trust the media. Disinformation campaigns have turned their focus from promoting the anti-vax narratives towards creating a positive image for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This is a turning point for the future of our European democracy at so many levels, but all levels are connected by one key: information. As European values are based on the preservation of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law and human rights, during these trying times it is becoming even more obvious that the general goals of supporting those values cannot be met without a free and independent media sector.
Furthermore, the Board of EANA stresses the importance of news agencies within the media ecosystem and also for the public itself. Representing at this moment an association of 31 members (Russian news agency TASS currently suspended due to Russian media legislation that prevents Russian media from publishing unbiased news), all leading national news agencies in their own countries and internationally, EANA underlines the national, regional and global impact of our members’ newswires. Some of our members are public news agencies, some are privately owned while others are closer linked to their countries’ administrations. But the principles promoted by our Alliance are based on inclusiveness and equality, as one role of EANA is to facilitate for member news agencies to provide unbiased news in accordance with the principles of modern journalism, no matter their source of funding or management. Acting as a provider of good practices, EANA grows alongside its member news agencies.
Having all of the above in mind, the Board of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) is expressing full support for a European Media Freedom Act that would ensure the legal framework needed in order to secure long-term support for the public mission of European media and its fundamental role within our democratic societies. Transparency of funding, pluralism and freedom of news reporting should be at the heart of European legislation regarding the media.
We remain available for more specific discussions and offer our support for developing a coherent set of legislation, in support of all the European media.
EANA serves as a forum for cooperation and exchange of information and experiences among European news agencies. The purpose of EANA is to safeguard and promote the common interests of its members in all areas essential to their work and activities. EANA’s aim is to secure that member news agencies can work as providers of unbiased news. EANA supports the principles of freedom of the press and shall strive to facilitate for member news agencies to work in accordance with these principles. EANA currently has 32 members from all over Europe.
The Board of EANA:
Clemens Pig, President of EANA, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of APA – Austria Press Agency, Austria
Fabrice Fries, member of the Board, President and CEO of AFP, France
Elmir Huremovic, member of the Board, General Manager of the Federal News Agency FENA, BiH
Clive Marshall, member of the Board, Chief Executive of PA Group, UK
Alexandru Ion Giboi, Secretary General of EANA