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EBU calls for stricter regulation of online distribution platforms

The EBU has called for stricter regulation of global online platforms and the way they present content in a submission to the public consultation on the EU’s Digital Services Act.

The public broadcasters’ body said that “the adoption of meaningful EU rules for global online platforms is absolutely essential” given the key role that such platforms now play in determining “whether and how citizens access content and information online”.

The EBU said that while third-party platforms had helped improve the circulation of content, the are nevertheless “offered and owned by global players that operate in a largely unregulated environment”

“They can no longer be considered passive or neutral hosts because they play an undeniable role in the public’s access to content online, using algorithms to organize, rank, moderate or commercialize content. They are driven by own global, commercial motivations and this has propelled them to much success. They do not serve citizens in the public interest,” the pubcasters’ organisation warned.

The EBU said that online platforms must be forced to respect media organsiations’ editorial freedom and integrity and not interfere with media providers that are already subject to regulation within the EU.

The organsiation also called for measures to force platforms to act against illegal and harmful content, for the EU to introduce rules attributing content to its source and to give fair prominence to content of general interest, and to improve algorithmic transparency and accountability and to prevent online platforms from favouring their own content.

The EBU also called for the EU to go further than its existing regulations on platform-to-business practices and to “establish vigorous rules to address problems arising from the dependence on global platforms and to promote fairness, competition, innovation, plurality and choice for European citizens”.

It called for stricter governance of online gatekeepers, with measures to prevent them from favouring gtheir own content, for transparency requirements to be imposed on recommendation mechanisms including voice assistants, and to force platforms to give media organisations access to data their content generates.