Two German MEPs behind a report on framing broadcasting regulations have been criticised by GUE/NGL members for possible bias.

As co-rapporteurs on the audio-visual media services directive on the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee (CULT), S&D’s Petra Kammerevert and the EPP’s Sabine Verheyen are responsible for introducing levies and guidelines for audio-visual services including online platforms such as Netflix across the continent.

However, it has now been revealed that both women belong to Germany’s body that oversees public broadcasters. Their positions also allow them to claim expenses in relation to work.

MEPs and video on-demand broadcasters have therefore expressed concern that the directive will be biased in favour of Germany’s broadcasting sector.

Speaking on behalf of GUE/NGL, group coordinator on the CULT committee and Italian MEP Curzio Maltese said questions must be asked of the co-rapporteurs’ impartiality:

“We are not dealing with a matter of conflict of interests here since Ms Verheyen and Ms Kammerevert are not employees of WDR.”

“But this doesn’t mean that assigning the file to them was the right thing to do. They both sit on the council of Rundfunkrat and, yes, they explained how this institution is independent and that their duties are simply to protect the interests of citizens. However, it's still a matter of political convenience,” he continued.

“At a time when EU citizens look at our institutions with increasing scepticism, S&D and EPP should have been more careful in making sure that MEPs appointed to work on this important directive have no involvement with other media or national broadcasters,” Mr Maltese concluded.

Speaking from a German perspective, fellow GUE/NGL MEP Martina Michels says politicians and the media should always remain separate:

“It’s high time we got all politicians out of these broadcasting councils! The audience should be those who help shape the future of public service media,” added Michels.

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