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Lithuania

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(1997) 2007 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1998) 706 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 507 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1750 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1406 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Monitoring Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC (2003) 1204 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission took the view that more in-depth information was required on changes in legislation. However, provided that the necessary legislative measures were pursued with sufficient urgency and accompanied by the requisite structural adjustment of the industry, the Commission considered that Lithuania would be able to meet EU requirements in the audiovisual sector in the medium term.

The November 1998 Report noted that no significant progress had been made in this area, particularly as regards the transposal of the Community acquis into national law.

The October 1999 Report stated that the Community acquis had not yet been transposed, except as regards tobacco advertising.

The November 2000 Report emphasised that Lithuania had made significant progress.

The November 2001 Report indicated that Lithuania was still making significant progress in aligning its audiovisual legislation. No progress was being made in the area of culture.

The October 2002 Report emphasised that there had been further progress in the area of culture and audiovisual policy. However, no particular progress had been made in terms of introducing legislation relating to the audiovisual acquis.

The November 2003 Report concludes that Lithuania has met most of the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations in the area of audiovisual policy. It is therefore expected to be in a position to implement the acquis by accession.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

In the context of the internal market, the audiovisual acquis is intended to ensure the provision and free movement of audiovisual services within the EU as well as the promotion of the European programme industry. The acquis is contained in the Television Without Frontiers Directive, which is applicable to all broadcasters regardless of mode of transmission (terrestrial, satellite, cable) or whether private or public. This Directive lays down basic rules concerning transfrontier broadcasting. The main points are:

  • to ensure the free movement of television broadcasts throughout Member States;
  • to promote the production and distribution of European audiovisual products (by laying down a minimum quota of broadcasting time for European products and those by independent producers);
  • to set basic standards for television advertising;
  • to provide for the protection of minors and allow the right of reply.

The European Association Agreement provides for cooperation in the promotion and modernisation of the audiovisual industry, and the harmonisation of regulatory aspects of audiovisual policy.

The Television Without Frontiers Directive is one of the measures to be adopted by the CEECs under Stage I of the White Paper on the countries of central and eastern Europe and the internal market of the Union (1995).

EVALUATION

The legal framework for the audiovisual sector is determined by the 1990 Law on Press and Mass Media, the 1995 Law on Communications, and the Law on the Licensing of Postal and Telecommunications Activities.

The main television broadcaster is the Lithuanian State Radio and Television Company (LRT), although many private channels operate.

State subsidies are granted to the Lithuanian State Radio and Television Company to encourage national film production and distribution.

The existing administrative structures, such as the Lithuanian Radio and Television Commission, work effectively within the limits of current legislation. Licences were granted to eight radio stations and nine cable TV stations in 1998.

The Law on National Radio and Television was adopted in June 2000 and the Law on Public Information was amended in August and again in October 2000. Laws in line with the Community acquis were also adopted on tobacco and alcohol control and on the fundamental principles of protecting the rights of the child. In December 2000 progress was made in public access to major events, the protection of minors, jurisdiction and the promotion of European works. Since the adoption of these laws, Lithuania's legislation has been largely in line with the Community acquis.

In February 2000 the Lithuanian Parliament ratified the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and its protocol.

The Radio and Television Council is the principal institution in charge of regulating and monitoring the audiovisual sector. Progress has been made in developing its resources and its monitoring procedures. The Radio and Television Commission, on the other hand, is responsible for regulating the activities of commercial radio stations and television channels, cable networks and microwave multi-channel systems. Where Lithuanian standards are not observed, penalties may be imposed. The powers of the Radio and Television Commission to enforce laws and impose penalties should be strengthened. The Lithuanian authorities need to concentrate on applying the implementing provisions and on raising public awareness of the protection of minors.

Lithuania has taken steps towards participating in the Community programmes MEDIA Plus and MEDIA Training as of 2003.

The Commission's 2003 Report indicates that Lithuania's audiovisual legislation is essentially in line with the Community acquis. However, transposition remains to be completed through an amendment to the Code of Administrative Offences, which is required to provide for adequate penalties for broadcasters infringing the law and their licence obligations. In addition, administrative enforcement powers should be strengthened, notably by reinforcing the sanctioning and enforcement powers of the Radio and Television Commission. The Radio and Television Commission will also need to increase its effectiveness in guaranteeing adequate implementation of the acquis, including in the area of satellite broadcast licensing.

In the area of culture, the Association Council decision authorising Lithuania to participate fully in the Culture 2000 programme as of 2001 was adopted in October 2001.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

Last updated: 13.01.2004
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