High level group resorts to call for regulations to protect press freedom in Europe

The group also proposes harmonization of media law across the 27 member states. Whilst Europe’s leading publishers welcome the group’s commitment to upholding press freedom by tackling state interference, adaptations of some aspects of competition policy and support for quality journalism, we regret that this led them to some recommendations which, if enacted, could impose Europe wide rules of the game on an independent, free press. The European Publishers Council (EPC) will oppose the idea that the European Commission should regulate “independent” national media councils. EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said: “The free and independent press faces deeply challenging times in spite of soaring audiences online but where profits are elusive. In the consultation that now follows we must work together to nurture a truly independent press that promotes democracy and cultural diversity throughout the world.” “We are quite taken aback by some of the report’s recommendations. The EU does not have legal competence under the treaties to harmonise substantive media laws such as defamation. Any notion of harmonised rules of the game, monitored by the EU, is anathema to press freedom – the very thing the group was tasked to protect.” Angela continued: “Independent press councils, self-regulatory bodies or press ombudsmen exist already in Europe and operate according to national cultural and social mores. Journalists follow codes of ethics and high professional standards which are already adapted to the digital environment.” Commissioner Neelie Kroes has welcomed the report but says that a political debate will follow with all stakeholders invited to give their feedback. Angela concluded: “We don’t need new media regulation; what we need are the right conditions for the long term viability of quality journalism and professional media. We look forward to taking part in the debate that follows.” For further information, contact Angela Mills Wade on Tel: +44 1865 310 732 or Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 7932 141 291 Notes to editors: The full terms of reference are here: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media_taskforce/doc/pluralism/hlg/hlg_tor.pdf The full report of the group is here: http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/media_taskforce/doc/pluralism/hlg/hlg_final_report.pdf A PDF of this release is available here. EPC MEMBERS: Chairman: Dr. Carlo de Benedetti, Chairman, Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, Italy

Mr. Jonas Bonnier, CEO, Bonnier, Sweden

Mr. Oscar Bronner, Publisher & Editor in Chief, Der Standard, Austria

Mr. Bernd Buchholz, Chief Executive, Gruner + Jahr, Germany

Dr. Hubert Burda, Chairman and CEO, Burda Media, Germany

Mr. Juan Luis Cebrian, CEO, Groupo Prisa, Spain

Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chief Executive, Axel Springer AG, Germany

Mr. Erik Engstrom, Chief Executive, Reed Elsevier, UK

Mr. Luis Enriquez, CEO,  Vocento, Spain

Ms. Rona Fairhead, Chief Executive, Financial Times Group, UK

Mr. Simon Fox, Chief Executive, Trinity Mirror plc, UK

Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, President and Chairman of the Executive Board, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, Germany

Mr. Harri – Pekka Kaukonen, CEO, Sanoma Corporation, Finland

Mr. Steffen Kragh, President and CEO,  The Egmont Group, Denmark

Mr. Murdoch MacLennan, Chief Executive, Telegraph Media Group Ltd, UK

Mr. Andrew Miller, Chief Executive, Guardian Media Group, UK

Mr. Tom Mockridge, Chief Executive, News International Ltd, UK

Mr. Piotr Niemczycki, CEO, Agora, Poland 

Mr. Antonello Perricone, CEO, RCS Media Group SpA, Italy

Mr. Panayotis Psycharis, CEO, Lambrakis Press Group, Greece

Mr. Michael Ringier, President, Ringier, Switzerland

The RT. Hon. The Viscount Rothermere, Chairman, Daily Mail and General Trust, UK

Mr. Rolv Erik Ryssdal, CEO, Schibsted, Norway

Mr. Jim Smith, Chief Executive, Thomson Reuters

Mr. Christian Van Thillo, Chief Executive, De Persgroep, Belgium