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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 21.11.2014, 18:18

European Commission controls Audiovisual Media Services Directive’s implementation

Eugene Eteris, , BC’s Scandinavian Office, 30.07.2012.Print version
The European Commission has written recently (Brussels, 23 July 2012) to Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and the United Kingdom seeking information about their implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. The same notice was given previously to 3 Baltic States at the end of 2011. The Directive which covers Europe's TV and audiovisual industry is not that easy to implement.

The Commission has asked the responsible authorities in the abovementioned states to reply within 10 weeks. The fact-finding letters are part of the Commission's efforts to ensure that the national media laws of all EU states correctly implement all aspects of the AVMS rules.

 

The requests for information from the mentioned EU states do not imply that the Directive has been incorrectly implemented; it simply signifies that, at this stage, the Commission has some serious questions concerning their implementation of the Directive.


The Directive’s main issues

The AVMS Directive was adopted in 2009 and it ensures a Single Market and legal certainty for Europe's TV and audiovisual industry by creating a level playing field for both broadcast and on-demand audiovisual media services across national borders while preserving cultural diversity, protecting children and consumers, safeguarding media pluralism and combating racial and religious hatred. The EU member states agreed to implement the AVMS Directive into their national law by 19 December 2009 (see IP/09/1983).

 

The Directive is based on the "country of origin" principle, whereby audiovisual media service providers are subject to the regulations in their country of origin only and cannot be subject to regulation in the destination country except in very limited circumstances (laid down in art. 3 of the AVMS Directive - e.g. incitement to hatred).

 

The original "Television without Frontiers" Directive was adopted in 1989 (IP/91/898) and amended for the first time in 1997 (IP/97/552). In December 2007, an amending Directive was adopted (see IP/07/1809, MEMO/08/803).


On 10 March 2010, the provisions of the original "Television without frontiers" Directive were merged with the provisions contained in the amending directives to form the codified version of the now called "Audiovisual Media Services" Directive.


Commission’s warnings

The Commission sent a first round of letters to 16 member states in March 2011 (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom (see IP/11/373) and a second round of letters to further 8 Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxemburg (see IP/11/1002) in September 2011.


Poland has only partially notified some measures to implement the AVMS Directive into its national law and is currently subject to an infringement procedure (IP/12/631).

 

The following wide range of issues related to the implementation of the Directive has been raised in the requests for clarification:


  • the country of origin principle and jurisdiction issues concerning audiovisual media services;
  • audiovisual commercial communications (including rules on product placement, sponsorship, teleshopping and codes of conduct for food high in fat, salt and sugar);
  • the protection of minors;
  • the promotion of European and independent works;
  • the right of reply;
  • basic obligations under the Directive (such as rules on accessibility, co-and self-regulation, registration of on-demand services);
  • events of major importance to be broadcast on free to air television and short news extracts; and
  • cooperation between regulatory bodies.

 

Reference:  Press Release, IP/12/819; 23 July2012.


Effect for the Baltic States

In September 2011, the European Commission wrote to eight EU member states (Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxemburg) seeking information about their implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. The Commission asked these member states to reply within 10 weeks. The fact-finding letters are part of the Commission's efforts to ensure that the national media laws of all member states correctly implement all aspects of the AVMS rules. The issues raised in these letters vary from one member state to the other.

 

The requests for information imply that at this stage, the Commission has some outstanding questions concerning the states’ implementation of the Directive.  

Reference:  Press Release, IP/11/1002, 1 September 2011.


The issues of concern for the Commission

The following wide range of issues related to the implementation of the Directive has been raised in the requests for clarification (see MEMO/11/574 for further details of these issues):


  • the country of origin principle and jurisdiction issues concerning audiovisual services;
  • audiovisual commercial communications (including product placement and sponsorship television advertising and teleshopping);
  • basic obligations under the Directive (such as identification requirements, rules on incitement to hatred, on accessibility, balanced coverage obligations, registration of on-demand services);
  • the protection of minors and promoting European works;
  • events of major importance to be broadcast on free to air television and short news extracts, alongside cooperation between regulators.

 

Details of the AVMS Directive can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/reg/avms/index_en.htm

Neelie Kroes' website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/

Digital Agenda website:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/digital-agenda/index_en.htm

 

Useful Links:

Details of the AVMS Directive and Digital Agenda website  







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