In order to enhance the independence of regulatory bodies, the European Commission could well decide to revise the directive on audiovisual media services. This is one of the possibilities presented in a public consultation on the subject, launched on 22 March(1). The EU executive has simultaneously opened another, broader consultation to collect opinions on media freedom and pluralism(2). Stakeholders have until 7 June to give their opinions on these issues.

These two initiatives come within the context of a debate, launched at the end of January, when a high-level group on media freedom and pluralism submitted its report to the Commission. "In the EU we face threats to our fundamental freedoms, such as media freedom and pluralism. The high-level group sent a strong signal that we need to take decisive action to ensure the freedom and pluralism of our media services in the future," saidaNeelie Kroes, the commissioner in charge of the Digital Agenda.

The high-level group has particularly emphasised the fact that the EU has an important role to play, alongside member states, in the protection of media freedom and pluralism, and suggests that EU competences on the matter should be extended - although it does not go into detail on this.a Most importantly, national audiovisual regulatory bodies should be fully independent, the group emphasised.

Audiovisual media is already subject to EU regulation: Directive 2010/13/EU on audiovisual media services (AMS, see box). Specifically, Article 30 of this text provides for measures on cooperation between audiovisual regulatory bodies.

In its consultation on enhancing the independence of these bodies, the Commission proposes several options, including the revision of this article. This would mean explicitly obliging member states to guarantee the independence of these bodies, and ensure that they exercise their...

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