In its Media and Audiovisual Plan, the Commission decided to launch a 'news initiative', bundling existing and new actions and support to the news media sector. This initiative looks holistically at the challenges facing the news media industry and provides a coherent response, bringing together different policy and funding instruments under a common banner.
Media and professionals interested in funding opportunities can visit this interactive tool. Where relevant, the Commission includes an independence clause in the contracts signed under this initiative so that beneficiaries operate with full editorial independence.
The Commission plans to support news media through:
- a structured dialogue
- enhancing competitiveness
- unleashing innovation
- nurturing democracy
A structured dialogue
The Commission engages in regular exchanges with the industry to work towards a news media innovation agenda that can help the sector thrive in the digital economy and society.
To this end, the Commission has launched a European News Media Forum (ENMF) to maintain a dialogue with news media organisations, professionals, representatives of the civil society and international organisations on a regular basis.
The ENMF will take place twice a year. The annual session in spring explores topics around media freedom and pluralism. The annual session in autumn looks at business aspects and industrial transformation. A first edition of the ENMF took place in March, focusing on safety of journalists.
The Commission aims to facilitate better access to finance to support the transformation and competitiveness of the sector. It will do so by by facilitating access to loans (with the backing of InvestEU guarantees), and by enhancing investment. The Commission aims to establish an equity-based pilot through InvestEU, which will co-invest funds from philanthropists, foundations and other private partners to support the news media sector and more. These actions will be complemented by capacity-building services, such as trainings to increase the knowledge of the media sector among investors and to support investment readiness among media outlets.
The Commission will provide support to foster collaboration across news media through grants for under Creative Europe. These grants, called the ‘Journalism partnerships’, will stimulate the testing of viable business models, developing business and editorial standards, promoting collaborative and cross-border journalism, training and mobility of professionals, and sharing of best practices.
These support measures complement other legal initiatives that could strengthen the sector’s competitiveness and financial footing, such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.
Furthermore, the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility offers an opportunity to Member States to invest in the twin digital and green transitions of the industry and to strengthen the resilience of the industry. Each national Recovery and Resilience Plan earmarks a minimum level of 20% of expenditure for digital, including measures to boost the production and distribution of digital content, which may include digital media.
In order to become more innovative and competitive, European news media companies will need to find new ways to increase revenues and build attractive business models. This will require advanced data strategies, new tools and knowledge sharing.
The Commission proposes to address this by fostering the creation of a European ‘media data space’. This can include data applications, data infrastructures, data interoperability strategies and state-of-the-art tools for the management and processing of the data. The initiative builds on the European Data Strategy and is financed through Horizon Europe and Digital Europe Programme (DEP).
Horizon Europe will support innovative applications and technologies in the media domain. Investments in modular and open-source infrastructure media components could facilitate the emergence of new business models and their uptake by traditional and new media, thereby improving citizens’ access to widely sourced information.
In order to explore and anticipate media trends, the European Commission will also procure a report, the ‘Media Industry Outlook’, every two years.
Media cannot operate properly without freedom and pluralism, which are an essential condition for democracy enshrined by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Commission has a role in ensuring that these principles are upheld. It is providing support to actions in the field. For example, by monitoring media pluralism and ownership, by providing legal advice to journalists, and by stimulating media quality standards and self-regulation. Under the recently announced European Democracy Action Plan, the Commission will issue a Recommendation on the safety of journalists and present an initiative to protect journalists and civil society against strategic lawsuits preventing public participation in 2021.
To complement these actions and the current media rules, the Commission is working on a new European Media Freedom Act, which will increase transparency, independence and accountability of actions affecting control and freedom of the press and help strengthen the governance of public media.
The Commission wants to stimulate a lively and diverse public sphere, in which citizens have access to reliable information about the EU. Support for independent production and dissemination of news content on EU affairs is available through the Multimedia Actions. In addition, the Commission supports the development of innovative and attractive news projects for young Europeans.
Finally, a healthy democracy needs strong media literacy. The Commission will support the development of a toolbox in cooperation with the European Group of Audiovisual Regulators (ERGA), continue the European Media Literacy week and increase funding to media literacy, to help citizens of all ages navigate the modern news environment, take informed decisions and be better equipped to face the threats of disinformation.