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EU opens disputed media probe to the public

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EU opens disputed media probe to the public
12:53 CET+01:00
The Swedish head of the European Federation of Journalists has welcomed an EU public consultation on the media, after a special committee failed to consult the union before saying politicians should be able to fire reporters.

"We of course welcome this public consultation", Swedish EFJ president Arne König told The Local on Friday.

"It gives us the chance to further explain what we already told the HLG (high-level group) about our fears that the EU become some kind of journalism overlord."

In February, The Local reported that despite expansive consultations, the high-level group had failed to speak with the union.

SEE ALSO: 'EU shouldn't define who's a journalist': union

"We deeply regret that the Commission and the [high-level group] did not consider the only truly representative journalists' organization as a valuable stakeholder to be heard and listened to," read a letter, shared with The Local, that the EFJ sent to EU Digital Media Commissioner Neelie Kroes, who is also vice president of the European Commission.

Kroes, who originally assembled the independent HLG, on Friday tweeted that the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) welcomed the new public consultation. The AEJ has national offices, rather than like the EFJ representing existing national journalist unions.

"We've already said there is a huge risk when politicians think they have the right to define who is a journalist," he said, in reference to the most controversial recommendation in the HLG report that said national "media councils" should have the right to "remove journalistic status," EFJ president Arne König told The Local as he headed off to Brussels.

"At the same time, we welcome the increasing interest in media issues, especially about how to deal with the increasing ownership concentration within media that threatens freedom of the press in Europe."

Ann Törnkvist

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