Source/Author: Hina
Source/Photo: Wikipedia

Croatia supports the adoption of the Media Freedom Act in the EU, as it can significantly contribute to strengthening professional journalism, media freedoms, and combating disinformation, said Croatian Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek in Brussels on Tuesday.

At the meeting of culture ministers of EU member states, the Swedish presidency of the Council of the EU presented a progress report on aligning positions on the Media Freedom Act, proposed by the Commission in September last year.

“Our position is that such an act is necessary. I believe it has the potential to contribute to what is important, namely strengthening professional journalism, enhancing media freedoms in the digital market, and combating disinformation,” Minister Obuljen Koržinek said after the meeting.

On September 16 last year, the European Commission proposed the Media Freedom Act to protect media pluralism and independence, prevent excessive ownership concentration, ensure transparency of ownership, and provide stable funding for public media, which must not become party propaganda channels. The Commission proposed a regulation containing a set of rules to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU. The proposed regulation includes protective measures against political interference in editorial decisions and oversight.

It emphasizes the independence and stable funding of public service media, as well as transparency of media ownership and distribution of state advertising. Measures are also proposed to protect the independence of editors and disclose conflicts of interest. The proposal also addresses media concentration issues and proposes the establishment of a new independent European Board of Media Services, consisting of national media authorities.

Minister Obuljen Koržinek said that some member states have certain dilemmas regarding the jurisdiction of this Media Services Board, which should involve all regulators and will itself have certain powers. “There is some doubt about the influence the Commission will have in this Board. However, I think everyone has expressed a view that we will continue to work on this text, that it is necessary, and that consensus must be found,” the minister said. The draft regulation on media freedom is being considered by the Council Working Group on Audiovisual Policy and Media.

The aim is to reach agreement on the negotiating mandate in September or October 2023. Co-legislators, the Council, and the Parliament, share the common goal of reaching a general agreement on this regulation before the upcoming European elections in May 2024.