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EDMO Workshop – “Media exemption” in the DSA: protecting editorial independence or a loophole for disinformation?

22 November 2021 14:30 - 16:30 CET
Organised by the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) – Policy Research and Analysis, which is coordinated by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF).

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is the key and long-awaited legislative proposal expected to establish a transparency and accountability framework in particular for very large online platforms. Recital 105 indicates that the DSA respects fundamental rights and that it ”should be interpreted and applied in accordance with those fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and information, as well as the freedom and pluralism of the media.”

One of the most contested aspects of the DSA proposal is its notice-and-action mechanism, which empowers platforms to make decisions about the legality of content upon receipt of a substantiated notice of alleged illegality. This discussion is further complicated by the fact that, while the DSA seeks to distinguish between illegal content and content that is harmful, but not illegal and as such should not be subject to removal obligations, different EU member states vary in their definitions of what content is considered illegal, with some criminalizing disinformation in certain conditions.

The amendments to the DSA proposal put forward by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), and Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) have sparked a lively debate on the need to protect media freedom from platform supervision and the potential consequences of such an exemption, also considering our inability to define “media” in the digital age.

CULT argues that “commercial online platforms should not be allowed to exercise a supervisory function over legally distributed online content originating from service providers who exercise editorial responsibility and consistently adhere to Union and national law as well as journalistic and editorial principles”. Similarly, JURI proposes that when “editorial media are published in compliance with applicable Union and national law under the editorial responsibility and control of a press publisher, audiovisual or other media service provider, who can be held liable under the laws of a Member State, the platforms shall be prohibited from removing, disabling access to, suspending or otherwise interfering with such content or services”.

In this workshop we seek to discuss this proposal and different positions towards it: on one side the concern around platforms supervising media or deciding what counts as media considering the power disbalance between platforms and the media; on the other, the recognition of the role that media – intentionally or unintentionally – play in the spread of disinformation and potentially illegal content.

As a result of the workshop, we will prepare an outcome report that summarizes the key points and arguments discussed.

Workshop Programme

Part I (14:30 – 15:50) The “media exemption” proposal & different positions towards it

Coffee break (15:50 – 16:00)

Part II (16:00 – 16.30) Risks, opportunities & operationalisation of the “media exemption” in DSA

The workshop is open for participants upon registration.

Registration link:

Registration closes on Sunday 21 November 2021 at 23:59 (CET).

Find the final programme here.

Watch the recording of the workshop here.