The role of the media in any society is to investigate and share information and ideas, in particular on issues of public interest, so that the public is informed and able to play their part in political, economic and cultural life. International law therefore requires States not only to refrain from controlling or restricting the media, but also to create an enabling legal and regulatory environment that allows the development of a free and diverse media landscape.
Media around the world has fundamentally changed in recent years. Although broadcast radio and television remain important sources of information and ideas, the Internet, and particularly social media platforms, have taken a position of ever growing importance as content distribution platforms, both for traditional media companies as well as emerging digital media companies. These new actors have quickly risen to dominant positions.
Search engines and social media platforms now hold a decisive influence over the searchability, visibility or accessibility of media and other content.
The defence of media freedom requires us to protect against not only traditional forms of media restrictions, (such as the forced closure of newspapers, or the use of public advertising to control media content) but also against unprecedented new challenges, such as the control of information and ideas by private power-holders, or the difficulties of financing and promoting accurate and reliable information online.