Can the public find out who owns the media through free access to the essential information required?
It is not possible to find out who owns print, online or broadcast media in Luxembourg through media-specific or company laws.
The Law on the Electronic Media, which covers broadcast and online media, does not specifically set out ownership disclosure obligations but does allow the possibility that ownership information can be requested for all forms of electronic media which require a licence. This is via the “book of obligations” which is attached to each licence or permit granted by Luxembourg . For example, the law states that the book of obligations can give the government the right to view the articles of association, shareholder information and the organs of the company holding the concession, and in practice it often does. However, it does not require that essential information necessary to ascertain the effective owner of a media outlet can always be obtained. However, it may be that for many media such information is disclosed but it is not easy to find this out.
It is worth noting that Luxembourg has a relatively small number of established players in the market and that the market rarely changes. As a consequence, it is widely believed that the public has a good overview of the ownership structure both of broadcasting and the press sector, making it unlikely that the public will lose sight of who owns what.
The Law on Freedom of Expression of the Media requires all media (print, online and broadcast) to report a certain amount of ownership information to the public. This information does not include the actual shareholding size, but the requirement to list the identity of the shareholders is only triggered for shareholder sizes above 25% so one knows that the identified shareholder has at least that amount of shares.
Corporate law allows access to information which reveals the identity of owners of publicly-listed companies only. For private companies there is there is no statutory right of access to reported information.
DRAFT – FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION: This research has been carried out by national experts and is open for consultation. Please let us know if you have any suggestions, or if you spot any errors or omissions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.