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Joint statement on Article 17 of the European Media Freedom Act

Together with a group of civil society organisations, we want to express our concern about Article 17 of the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), putting forward the so-called “media privilege”.

Article 17 implements a mechanism whereby the identification of media service providers (MSP) is based on self-declaration, establishing a fast track and non-transparent procedure for certain privileged actors. This can potentially have a major negative impact on the right to freedom of expression and information, as it may open the door to rogue actors whose interest is to distort democratic public discourse. Furthermore, it jeopardises the effectiveness of the Digital Services Act by fragmenting horizontal rules and overloading the system with new procedures.

There is an urgent need to counterbalance the power asymmetry between MSP and very large online platforms (VLOPs). Healthy newsfeeds on social media are a precondition for access to reliable information and VLOPs are responsible for their algorithms as well as their content curation and content moderation policies. Article 17 focuses on content moderation. However, algorithmic-driven content curation optimised for profit as well as the monopolisation of the global digital advertising markets by VLOPs constitute a much more serious threat to media pluralism and content diversity. Measures proposed in Article 17 providing privileged treatment to media content will not provide an adequate response to this issue.

Efforts should focus on the enforcement of the DSA, particularly on mitigating systemic risks linked to freedom of expression and information,  disinformation, algorithmic amplification and content delivery and reject Article 17 in the EMFA.