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Phasing-out of targeted advertising as suggested by the adopted JURI report on the Digital Services Act sends a potentially fatal message for the ad-financed sectors

21 October 2020

On behalf of EMMA (European Magazine Media Association), ENPA (the European Newspaper Association) EPC (European Publishers Council), FEDMA (Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing), EGTA (Association of TV and radio sales houses), ZAW (German Advertising Federation), we would like to voice our strong concerns about some key parts of the EP adopted report on the Digital Services Act on 20 October.
 
The report presents several problematic and worrying aspects and is regrettably one-sided, as it suggests new restrictions on online advertising which would be detrimental to the ad-financed sectors such as the press and media
 
Rather than a generalised and reckless ban on personalised advertising, balanced legislation that safeguards both the fundamental rights as well as protection of citizens and equal competitive opportunities in the digital world is crucially needed. Therefore, regulation should target the data practices and monopolisation of advertising revenues by mega-platforms and ensure the sustainability of services such as the press and media.
 
The financing of the press and media sector relies on revenues deriving from online advertising. Advertising is an essential source of revenue for online publishers and allows them to offer content free of charge or at very affordable prices.  Publishers take great care with their readers’ privacy and only use data to provide them with convenient access to information, a better service and more relevant content, including advertising.
 
This group is concerned that any additional requirement or restriction on online advertising would endanger revenues for online services in an already fragile and unbalanced digital ecosystem, dominated by a handful of large players. Such mega-platforms can reap the benefits of log-in models that grant them direct access to an unparalleled amount of user data.
Financing media with data-driven advertising in also an exercise of fundamental rights as it guarantees free and independent journalism. A balance between the right to privacy and the right to provide services beneficial to the users such as quality journalism is the most desirable option.
 
Europe must find a holistic and consistent approach to answer the challenge that is aligned with existing EU legislation and strengthens the European economy taking into account other policy objectives (data strategy, AI etc.).

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