The Articles of the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) (Proposal 16.9.2022)

Preamble 21 to 30

(21) To mitigate regulatory burdens, micro enterprises within the meaning of Article 3 of Directive 2013/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council 50 should be exempted from the requirements related to information and internal safeguards with a view to guaranteeing the independence of individual editorial decisions.

Moreover, media service providers should be free to tailor the internal safeguards to their needs, in particular if they are small and medium-sized enterprises within the meaning of that Article. The Recommendation that accompanies this Regulation 51 provides a catalogue of voluntary internal safeguards that can be adopted within media companies in this regard.

The present Regulation should not be construed to the effect of depriving the owners of private media service providers of their prerogative to set strategic or general goals and to foster the growth and financial viability of their undertakings. In this respect, this Regulation recognises that the goal of fostering editorial independence needs to be reconciled with the legitimate rights and interests of private media owners.

(22) Independent national regulatory authorities or bodies are key for the proper application of media law across the Union. National regulatory authorities or bodies referred to in Article 30 of Directive 2010/13/EU are best placed to ensure the correct application of the requirements related to regulatory cooperation and a well-functioning market for media services, envisaged in Chapter III of this Regulation.

In order to ensure a consistent application of this Regulation and other Union media law, it is necessary to set up an independent advisory body at Union level gathering such authorities or bodies and coordinating their actions. The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), established by Directive 2010/13/EU, has been essential in promoting the consistent implementation of that Directive.

The European Board for Media Services (‘the Board’) should therefore build on ERGA and replace it. This requires a targeted amendment of Directive 2010/13/EU to delete its Article 30b, which establishes ERGA, and to replace references to ERGA and its tasks as a consequence. The amendment of Directive 2010/13/EU by this Regulation is justified in this case as it is limited to a provision which does not need to be transposed by Member States and is addressed to the institutions of the Union.

(23) The Board should bring together senior representatives of the national regulatory authorities or bodies referred to in Article 30 of Directive 2010/13/EU, appointed by such authorities or bodies. In cases where Member States have several relevant regulatory authorities or bodies, including at regional level, a joint representative should be chosen through appropriate procedures and the voting right should remain limited to one representative per Member State. This should not affect the possibility for the other national regulatory authorities or bodies to participate, as appropriate, in the meetings of the Board.

The Board should also have the possibility to invite to attend its meetings, in agreement with the Commission, experts and observers, including in particular regulatory authorities or bodies from candidate countries, potential candidate countries, EEA countries, or ad hoc delegates from other competent national authorities. Due to the sensitivity of the media sector and following the practice of ERGA decisions in accordance with its rules of procedure, the Board should adopt its decisions on the basis of a two-thirds majority of the votes.

(24) Without prejudice to the powers granted to the Commission by the Treaties, it is essential that the Commission and the Board work and cooperate closely. In particular, the Board should actively support the Commission in its tasks of ensuring the consistent application of this Regulation and of the national rules implementing Directive 2010/13/EU.

For that purpose, the Board should in particular advise and assist the Commission on regulatory, technical or practical aspects pertinent to the application of Union law, promote cooperation and the effective exchange of information, experience and best practices and draw up opinions in agreement with the Commission or upon its request in the cases envisaged by this Regulation. In order to effectively fulfil its tasks, the Board should be able to rely on the expertise and human resources of a secretariat provided by the Commission. The Commission secretariat should provide administrative and organisational support to the Board, and help the Board in carrying out its tasks.

(25) Regulatory cooperation between independent media regulatory authorities or bodies is essential to make the internal market for media services function properly. However, Directive 2010/13/EU does not provide for a structured cooperation framework for national regulatory authorities or bodies.

Since the revision of the EU framework for audiovisual media services by Directive 2018/1808/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, which extended its scope to video-sharing platforms, there has been an ever-increasing need for close cooperation among national regulatory authorities or bodies, in particular to resolve cross-border cases. Such a need is also justified in view of the new challenges in the EU media environment that this Regulation seeks to address, including by entrusting national regulatory authorities or bodies with new tasks.

(26) To ensure the effective enforcement of Union media law, to prevent the possible circumvention of the applicable media rules by rogue media service providers and to avoid the raising of additional barriers in the internal market for media services, it is essential to provide for a clear, legally binding framework for national regulatory authorities or bodies to cooperate effectively and efficiently.

(27) Due to the pan-European nature of video-sharing platforms, national regulatory authorities or bodies need to have a dedicated tool to protect viewers of video-sharing platform services from certain illegal and harmful content, including commercial communications. In particular, a mechanism is needed to allow any relevant national regulatory authority or body to request its peers to take necessary and proportionate actions to ensure enforcement of obligations under this Article by video-sharing platform providers.

In case the use of such mechanism does not lead to an amicable solution, the freedom to provide information society services from another Member State can only be restricted if the conditions set out in Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 53 are met and following the procedure set out therein.

(28) Ensuring a consistent regulatory practice regarding this Regulation and Directive 2010/13/EU is essential. For this purpose, and to contribute to ensuring a convergent implementation of EU media law, the Commission may issue guidelines on matters covered by both this Regulation and Directive 2010/13/EU when needed. When deciding to issue guidelines, the Commission should consider in particular regulatory issues affecting a significant number of Member States or those with a cross-border element.

This is the case in particular for national measures taken under Article 7a of Directive 2010/13/EU on the appropriate prominence of audiovisual media services of general interest. In view of the abundance of information and the increasing use of digital means to access the media, it is important to ensure prominence for content of general interest, in order to help achieving a level playing field in the internal market and compliance with the fundamental right to receive information under Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union.

Given the possible impact of the national measures taken under Article 7a on the functioning of the internal media market, guidelines by the Commission would be important to achieve legal certainty in this field. It would also be useful to provide guidance on national measures taken under Article 5(2) of Directive 2010/13/EU with a view to ensuring the public availability of accessible, accurate and up-to-date information related to media ownership. In the process of preparing its guidelines, the Commission should be assisted by the Board. The Board should in particular share with the Commission its regulatory, technical and practical expertise regarding the areas and topics covered by the respective guidelines.

(29) In order to ensure a level playing field in the provision of diverse audiovisual media services in the face of technological developments in the internal market, it is necessary to find common technical prescriptions for devices controlling or managing access to and use of audiovisual media services or carrying digital signals conveying the audiovisual content from source to destination. In this context, it is important to avoid diverging technical standards creating barriers and additional costs for the industry and consumers while encouraging solutions to implement existing obligations concerning audiovisual media services.

(30) Regulatory authorities or bodies referred to in Article 30 of Directive 2010/13/EU have specific practical expertise that allows them to effectively balance the interests of the providers and recipients of media services while ensuring the respect for the freedom of expression. This is key in particular when it comes to protecting the internal market from activities of media service providers established outside the Union that target audiences in the Union where, inter alia in view of the control that may be exercised by third countries over them, they may prejudice or pose risks of prejudice to public security and defence.

In this regard, the coordination between national regulatory authorities or bodies to face together possible public security and defence threats stemming from such media services needs to be strengthened and given a legal framework to ensure the effectiveness and possible coordination of the national measures adopted in line with Union media legislation. In order to ensure that media services suspended in certain Member States under Article 3(3) and 3(5) of Directive 2010/13/EU do not continue to be provided via satellite or other means in those Member States, a mechanism of accelerated mutual cooperation and assistance should also be available to guarantee the ‘effet utile’ of the relevant national measures, in compliance with Union law.

Additionally, it is necessary to coordinate the national measures that may be adopted to counter public security and defence threats by media services established outside of the Union and targeting audiences in the Union, including the possibility for the Board, in agreement with the Commission, to issue opinions on such measures, as appropriate. In this regard, risks to public security and defence need to be assessed with a view to all relevant factual and legal elements, at national and European level. This is without prejudice to the competence of the Union under Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

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