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Europe's publishing leaders call on EU institutions to nurture fundamental press freedoms and competitiveness

Europe's senior newspaper, magazine, books, online and database publishers spoke out today in Brussels at the joint Commission-industry Publishers' Forum, united in their call for light-touch regulation to help them compete in the global new media age and to maintain press freedom fundamental to democratic society.

Facing current threats to both editorial and financial freedom, the high-level industry speakers called for:

  • Legal certainty in all areas (especially with regard to ROME II)
  • Copyright protection for employers (Forthcoming revision of Copyright directives)
  • Respect of IPR (European Digital Libraries, high need to keep databases protected, threats from Google)
  • Fair competition
  • Time to overcome the challenges of digital convergence
  • Freedom to discover appropriate creative and innovative technologies
  • The liberalisation of access to information for commercial purposes
  • Editorial freedom: freedom to inform; freedom to publish
  • Zero-rated VAT on reading materials
  • Respect for the fact that the EU has no competence to legislate for the conduct of journalists and publishers in relation to content
  • Support for existing system of self-regulation at national level
  • An end to advertising restrictions that undermine the viability and therefore the plurality of Europe's media
  • Recognition of the role played and efforts made by publishers to educate the public and improve literacy and learning through many different existing initiatives

EPC Chairman Francisco Pinto Balsemão said: "We need the freedom not only to represent the widest spectrum of views but also to operate profitably, independently and free from government control. That means editorial freedom as well as financial freedom, which comes mainly through advertising revenues for the press but not only for the publishers across the sector. We can only afford to be independent if we are profitable."

ENPA President Per Lyngby said: "There are some worrying tendencies both at the level of national governments and at EU level to introduce some restrictions to freedom of expression in the context of anti-terrorism policies. [All newspaper publishers] are against any legislative or similar measures which would restrict newspapers to report and write about some issuesŠ.The core of the industry rests on the freedom of expression."

FAEP President Pauli Leimio said about magazine publishers: "There are thousands upon thousands of SMEs publishing hundreds upon hundreds of mainly specialised magazine titles. They need economic and regulatory freedom to test and to taste new technologies. Operating on very tight margins, these businesses will not risk investment in new technologies if they will be subject to burdensome legislation."

EADP President Dr Christoph Dumrath said: "The importance of the directory and database market is crucial for the functioning of a modern electronic communication market ­ any legislation directed at this sector must take account of this."

FEP President Dr Arne Bach said: "Šwhether we publish books, databases, journals, newspapers, or magazines, we are also bring information, knowledge, education or entertainment to the citizens. Thus, the competitiveness of our industry is not only essential to a sound European economy, it is crucial for the achievement of the Lisbon agenda to make our Union THE knowledge society by 2010."

Commissioner Reding and Commissioner Wallström participated in the Forum. Copies of their speeches are available on request.

For further information about this event, please contact Heidi Lambert (++44 (0)1245 476 265).

For more information from the individual associations, e-mail contact:

Note to editors:

  • 120 million newspapers are sold every day and read by over 235 million Europeans
  • 15,000 individual magazine publishing companies employ nearly 250,000 EU citizens
  • 20 billion copies of magazines are printed per year
  • 80% of the EU population read magazines on a regular basis
  • 466 000 new books or new editions per year. Publishing houses employ 130 000 people full time
  • 55,000 persons employed by Directory and database publishing companies in Europe