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New regulation on media freedom: The European Media Freedom Act

On 13 March 2024 the European Parliament adopted a new regulation called the European Media Freedom Act (“EMFA”). The purpose of the new regulation is to protect EU journalists and the press from political or economic interference. Under the new regulation Member States will be obliged to protect media independence and all forms of interventions will be banned.

The EMFA will oblige the governments of the Member States to limit the use of spyware against journalists. The use of spyware will be allowed only on a case-by-case basis and subject to authorization by a judicial authority investigating serious crimes. Even in these cases, subjects will have the right to be informed after the surveillance has occurred and will be able to challenge it in court. To enable the public to know who controls the media and what interests may influence reporting, all news outlets will have to transparently disclose information about their ownership, funding and state advertising. The EMFA will also introduce mechanism to prevent big online platforms (such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) or Instagram) from arbitrarily restricting press freedom.

The EMFA will establish a new board (called European Board for Media Services) which will be composed of national audio-visual regulators and its tasks will include the oversight of the press sector across the EU.

Once officially published in the Official Journal of the EU, the regulation will be applicable in all Member States after 15 months.