The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is pleased that the media market is recognised as being crucial to strengthen open, democratic societies and stimulate Europe's cultural diversity, and endorses the emphasis on the fact that media companies are both an economic sector and a public good that is crucial for providing people with accurate information and enabling democracy.
The combination of the underlying trends and the COVID-19 crisis could, without a strong policy and immediate financial support response, undermine the resilience of Europe's media sector and its democratic role. Steps must be taken to tackle the structural challenges facing the audiovisual and news media industries, as well as towards fostering an enabling environment where the media and civil society are able to participate in an open debate, free from malign interference and disinformation.
The Committee would like the plan to be more closely tied to the social realities and specific features of the industry, in particular the discrepancies in the media and audiovisual industry landscape between the individual Member States, and of the discrepancies within the Member States between the capacity and needs of local and national media. The financial tools should be transparent, accessible and inclusive towards all the players that ensure the diversity of the European media and audiovisual industry, including by ensuring more support to local media and media start-ups.
It is paramount that the Member States do everything they can to take those measures from potential to reality, working together to strengthen the media and democracy. The EESC requests that the social partners and civil society be involved in the implementation of the actions that seek to empower citizens, recognising their role in promoting the values of democracy, strengthening media freedom and countering disinformation through media literacy. If the plan is to succeed, it must manage to involve all relevant stakeholders.