Through their work, the EU Institutions touch our culture and our media through diverse proposals on copyright and advertising, the health and rights of consumers, pluralism and competition, legal affairs, fundamental rights and civil liberties, the environment, energy, the EU economy, financial markets and international trade as well as equality and women’s rights.
The future of Europe’s independent media relies on informed, light-touch law-making in Europe underpinned by sound industry self-regulation to ensure that we have:
- Freedom to report
- Freedom to earn advertising revenue
- Freedom to manage our intellectual property
- Freedom to innovate and respond to challenges
- Freedom to compete with public service broadcasters
- Freedom to regulate ourselves
All of these freedoms have been or continue to be under threat.
Our media perform a vital role in society in informing citizens about issues of importance and matters that they care about – everything from education and health to the economy and politics, wars and other world changing events, the environment and climate change, as well as life-style interests, travel, music and sport.
Independent reporting costs money and our ability to earn advertising revenue has a direct impact on the number of pages in your newspaper, magazine or on your choice of television or radio programmes.
Advertising accounts for 67% of the media’s funding but advertising revenues are falling in the printed press and revenues online are minimal. New restrictions on advertising have an immediate detrimental economic impact. Legislation, which dictates what you can or cannot say in advertising for everyday products such as food, cars, alcohol or household goods, is potentially devastating for the economic viability of the media.
We distribute our content as widely as possible and our audience has never been greater thanks to all the many platforms available to us including of course the internet. Audience is not our problem. Getting paid for our content online sometimes is.
Without proper protection for intellectual property, innovation, investment and the provision of high-quality, authoritative content in print or on the internet from trusted brands is unsustainable. Copyright is not always respected online which means Europe’s cultural diversity and media pluralism are at stake. Just like the first printing presses, the internet is a new technology which has made it exponentially easier and cheaper to copy and distribute content, as well as creating a role and opportunity for new players to help distribute that content and importantly to help people find what they want. But many new internet players habitually re-use and often monetise our content without permission even though the publishing industry has devised an online tool called the Automated Content Access Protocol (www.the-acap.org) that works the way the internet works to ensure that our copyright terms can be communicated online in simple, machine readable language.
We don’t need new laws but we do need the help of legislators to put an end to systematic free-riding and to help us to ensure that ACAP becomes a part of the internet landscape.
The EPC is a co-founder of the News Media Coalition (NMC) a world-wide alliance of news media organisations focusing on the specific threat to editorial operations, publishing and independent journalism from excessive controls through accreditation contracts. The NMC aims to remove these controls on the flow of news to the public of events of major public interest, such as football matches and rock concerts. Better contracts mean fuller access to our coverage across our print, TV and internet sites, bringing the type of content our readers want, when they want it by whatever outlet. We must stop the clock on ever-increasing controls by events organisers over how and what we publish.
It is essential for media pluralism and the maintenance of democracy that there should be fair play conditions to allow a free, independently funded European media to flourish alongside publicly funded broadcasters. But state broadcasters now compete head on with publishers online and via mobile as well as with private broadcasters for audience share and advertising revenue. This market distortion endangers investment in wide areas of potential activity by the private sector. There should be much clearer limits on state broadcasters to prevent a crowding out effect through rigorous and independent scrutiny of their ever-expanding activities.
The EPC is naturally opposed to any attempts to curtail editorial freedom and would regard any legislative interference with editorial policy as censorship. The freedom to advertise is an integral element of the freedom of expression which is why the EPC, together with colleagues from throughout the media and advertising industry in the European Advertising Standards Alliance, is committed to high standards of advertising practice. We continue to update and develop best practice in line with market and technological changes. Further information available from www.easa-alliance.org