On 4th July, I-Com hosted a Power Breakfast on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). The event was attended by Marco Campomenosi, MEP, Shadow Rapporteur on the European Media Freedom Act and IMCO Committee member; David Ek, Counsellor for Culture and Media at the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU; Giuseppe Abbamonte, Director Media Policy at DG CONNECT and many stakeholders and representatives from the industries.

In view of the Power Breakfast, I-Com research team worked on a background document on the issue at stake. The document was later complemented by the insights and policy suggestions emerged from the discussion and updated to a policy brief.

The policy brief presents an overview of the evolution of the European media regulation and recent developments. The analysis is made up of three main parts: (i) an exploration of the European legal framework in the media field before the EMFA; (ii) a comparison with foreign media regulations – especially those enacted in Florida and Texas – and case-law; (iii) an assessment of the challenges and opportunities that are likely to arise from the EMFA in the current ever-growing “phygital” world.

  • The EMFA is the first European regulation directly touching upon media aspects. It aims to achieve balanced and impartial media coverage through transparency, regulatory convergence, and cooperation between Member States.
  • The need to protect the independence and transparency of media companies has become increasingly important in the digital era, where content is produced, distributed and consumed through innovative channels. The rise of new influential players in the media industry has blurred the line between independent and corporate-owned media providers.
  • The proposed regulation assumes that national interventions to address the decline in media freedom and pluralism within Member States have proven insufficient, considering the cross-border nature of digital platforms. A unified legal response at the European level, consistent with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, could provide a more effective solution.
  • Media regulation is also undergoing significant changes in the U.S., where it has become a contentious battleground between Republicans and Democrats. The U.S. Supreme Court plays a central role in shaping media law and determining how existing rules can accommodate the challenges posed by the widespread use of digital platforms.
  • The policy brief sheds light on some salient issues raised by the EMFA, namely: (i) the competence conundrum considering that Art. 167(5) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union restricts the EU from harmonising national media laws and regulations, limiting its competence to soft law acts; (ii) the foreseeable operation of the enforcement mechanisms set therein: and (iii) potential unintended consequences.
  • The EMFA represents a significant step forward in protecting the rule of law and promoting high-quality media services by strengthening the free and pluralistic media system throughout Europe. However, its implementation requires coordination with the existing EU legal framework, which is a patchwork of direct and indirect measures.

Please find as follows I-Com policy brief.