BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission plans to introduce rules next year to prevent a few large media groups from acquiring smaller rivals and to thwart government interference, EU industry chief Thierry Breton said on Monday.
The move by the EU executive comes amid curbs on media freedom in Poland, Hungary and Slovenia and worries that the channelling of state advertising to pro-government outlets leads to indirect political influence over the media.
“To address these concerns, the European Commission will present next year a Media Freedom Act,” Breton told the European News Media Forum.
“We want to act against all types of unjustified interferences in the activities of our media companies. We need to make sure that there are media pluralism safeguards, including online, so no one grows too big to care about public debate,” he said.
Breton said the proposed rule would also target hostile foreign interference, with countries heading to the polls seen as the most vulnerable.
He said the Commission will launch a consultation, seeking feedback from the media and other third parties before adopting the new rule.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Ed Osmond)