EU approves new media freedom law

The European Parliament passed a new law to protect journalists from political interference on Wednesday.

The European Media Freedom Act  is designed to protect editorial independence and journalistic sources across the European Union.

German MEP Sabine Verheyen, who shepherded the law through parliament, pointed to the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and threats to press freedom in Hungary as examples of why such a law is needed.

“The significance of media plurality for a functioning democracy cannot be stressed enough,” she said.

What does the Media Freedom Act entail?

The new law prohibits authorities from forcing journalists and editors to disclose their sources, including through detention, surveillance and office raids.

During negotiations, France had pushed for “national security” exceptions. The final law did not include national security carve-outs but does allow authorities to use spyware on journalists if a number of serious violations are identified and only with judicial approval.

The Media Freedom Act also focuses on transparency. It stipulates that board members of public media outlets must be selected through open and fair processes, and they cannot be removed from their positions prematurely unless they no longer meet professional criteria.

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