A new European body – the European Media Services Council – will monitor the protection of media freedom in the European Union. Its creation is enshrined in the new European law on media freedom, which will be debated and voted on in the plenary hall at the next meeting of the European Parliament in early October.
It is envisaged that the body will be independent from the European Commission. It will issue opinions on the application of European media legislation in EU countries and take decisions that affect media markets and their concentration.
The new European media law prohibits all forms of interference and pressure on the media, including forcing journalists to reveal their sources. Wiretapping and the use of spyware against them will be prohibited, except in cases of serious crime and after a court order.
The draft law provides for the publicity of media ownership, as well as the transparency of state advertising and state financial aid for the media. Member States are also expected to fund public media through multi-annual budgets to prevent political interference and ensure predictability of funding.
The European law on freedom of the media aims for greater diversity, freedom and editorial independence of the European media, the rapporteur on the subject, Sabine Verheyen (EPP, Germany), told a seminar for journalists. According to her, media freedom is seriously threatened in some of the EU countries, therefore the new law aims to protect journalists and protect media independence.