ENPA is working on a number of areas of European policy and legislation which are essential for the effective day-to-day running of operations of local, regional and national newspapers.
One of our questions to policymakers is whether a new piece of legislation is needed in order to secure and enhance competitiveness of our sector. Unnecessary advertising restrictions and EU attempts to regulate media pluralism are some examples of legislation that are not in line with the objective of a competitive publishing industry in the different European countries.
Freedom of the press and the right to receive and impart information, opinions and ideas are the foundation stone of the newspaper and news media sector.
Undue State regulation, control or monitoring of the press is counterproductive and underlines the ability of the independent press sector to carry out its mission in democratic society.
Industry self-regulation is the best guarantee of editorial independence and freedom of the press. European institutions should recognise the value of voluntary industry self-regulation systems at national industry self-regulation systems at national level, including press councils, best practice and codes of conduct, which are aimed at preserving press freedom while at the same time promoting truthfulness and accuracy of information.
Data Protection and AVMS
Several issues going through the decision-making process at European level will have an enormous impact on the press sector: in the new EU Regulation on Data Protection, it is of fundamental importance that the press has a directly applicable and legally binding exemption for journalistic data processing and that sources are protect; and consultations are underway regarding the EU Directive on Audio-visual Media Services (AVMS), which explicitly excludes electronic versions of newspapers and magazines from its scope. In any review the AVMS Directive, it is essential that the exception for the press is maintained.
Newspapers were one of the first creative sectors to offer its content in digital formats and the business has rapidly transformed to become a leading digital content player.
Publishers of newspapers and news media have made substantial investments to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by new technology to serve their readers with professional content in both print and digital formats. In this context, effective copyright protection and enforcement are more important than ever.
Maintaining Copyright Balance
The current EU legislative framework provides an appropriate balance between rights holders and users I terms of rights and exceptions to copyright. Introducing new exceptions would seriously jeopardise the primary market for professional press content and undermine the investment of publishers in a wide range of editorial content. Licensing provides more efficient and business-friendly solutions to tackling any obstacles in the market.
Combatting Piracy and parasitism
In the digital environment, respect for copyright by all market players, including search engines and news aggregators, is a necessary precondition to ensure a sustainable press sector in Europe. Effective, IPR enforcement mechanisms and procedures are essential to combat both piracy and parasitism, as well as to ensure that society at large can fully enjoy the benefits of the IP system.
Policy and competition issues currently under debate in Brussels and Strasbourg will help to define the operating conditions for publishing houses all across Europe. Decisions taken during the next five years will shape the working environment for the independent press sector for decades to come.
Advertising: As Essential Revenue Source
Advertising is an essential source of revenue for news media, making a vital contribution to the independence and pluralism of the press sector. EU institutions should avoid the introduction of any bans, restrictions or mandatory information requirements on the advertising of legally available products, which would make advertising in newspapers less attractive, resulting in a real threat to the financing of quality press content.
The Remit of PSBs Must Be Clearly Defined
Newspapers and public service broadcasters (PSBs) can both thrive and contribute to promoting democracy and media diversity, but only if there is effective enforcement of the state aid and competition rules. In recent years, PSBs have greatly expanded their online activities to make press-alike offers, resulting in serious distortions of the digital market. The public service remit of PSBs must be clearly defined and their online activities should be subject to a public value test and a sectorial impact assessment through independent bodies.
Reducing VAT on Digital Press
A majority of Member States apply reduced VAT rates to printed press and this makes a sustainable contribution to an independent press sector and wider public policy objectives. However, the current VAT regime penalises digital press and constitutes a serious barrier to the creation of jobs and growth for the future. The EU should come forward urgently with a proposal to provide Member States with the possibility of applying zero, super-reduced and reduced VAT rates for digital press, while maintaining the existing rates for printed press.
Fair Competition and Equal Search
Technology platforms and search engines have an enormous impact on which press content is visible and accessible to citizens on the Internet. Fair competition and equal search are indispensable conditions for the proper functioning of the digital ecosystem, to the benefit of all users and consumers. Furthermore, the news media sector strongly advocates net neutrality. Net neutrality guarantees the same quality of service and the same possibility to reach digital users for all content, applications and service providers, regardless of a company's financial capacity.
Newspapers and news media are the ultimate sources for media literate citizens. Reading news media opens a window on to other worlds and other viewpoints, also confronting us with our own pre-conceived ideas and challenging our views.
Publishers greatly value the wider role that they play in society . In the field of environmental policy, the publishing sector is focused on maximising paper recycling and resource efficiency, as well as effective use of energy and raw materials to help fight against climate change.
Promoting Media Literate Citizenship
Newspapers and news media have a fundamental role to play in promoting the development of media literate and socially engaged citizens who have an understanding of local, national and global events. Newspaper content, both in print and digital formats, should be included in media education programmes managed by the European Union. "Digital literacy" initiatives should be linked to the promotion of "media literacy" so that citizens can better assess critically the content they access online.
Achieving Sustainability Objectives
The print media value chain is an essential contributor to a knowledge-based society and the cultural economy. Moreover, paper is sustainable; it is base on wood, a natural and renewable resource. Industry self-regulation is an effective, flexible and cost-efficient means of achieving overall sustainability objectives and targets by all stakeholders in the print value chain.