#disinformation #EU #mediafreedom
The launch of the European Media Freedom Act is a landmark step in European media policy. The rapid evolution of digital technologies has transformed the media landscape, leading to more access and information dissemination. However, the equally rapid proliferation of harmful content on online platforms, including disinformation, has raised significant concerns and risks across Member States. To address these challenges, new rules and regulations have been introduced, such as the Digital Services Act to limit the spread of illegal and harmful activities online by regulating content moderation. However, the European approach to content moderation is still characterised by sectorial fragmentation and strategies dealing with online harms that are shaped around specific policy areas. The EMFA is a significant addition to this fragmented landscape, introducing a unique system that impacts content moderation practices, particularly regarding media outlets. Article 17 of the EMFA introduces a “media exemption”, also known as “media privilege”, which prevents VLOPs from moderating content by media service providers (MSP) discretionarily. As a result, online platforms are required to maintaining content published by media service providers online and take certain procedural steps before taking restrictive content moderation decisions, even in case of harmful content violating their terms of services. This policy paper explores the challenges raised by the introduction of the media privilege in the EMFA. By focusing on the evolving political discussion towards the adoption of EMFA in 2024, this paper aims to underline the key regulatory questions that such a proposal raises in respect of media freedom, pluralism and content moderation in the EU. The first part examines the rationale, the origin and the scope ratione personae of the media privilege. The second part focuses on the scope ratione materiae of the media privilege, particularly looking at the consequences for the internal market and the protection of fundamental rights. The third part examines enforcement issues and compliance challenges.