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"Audiovisual media services without frontiers" Directive

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The revision of the "Television without frontiers" (TVWF) Directive aims to adapt and modernise the existing rules. The main objective of this revision is to take account of technological developments and changes in the structure of the audiovisual market. A further objective is to ease the regulatory burden on providers of audiovisual services while facilitating the financing of European audiovisual content.

ACT

Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities.

SUMMARY

The purpose of the "Audiovisual media services" Directive is to revise the " Television without frontiers " (TVWF) Directive adopted in 1989 and first amended in 1997. The aim is to achieve a modern, flexible and simplified framework for audiovisual media content.

The revision proposed by the Commission is based on a new definition of audiovisual media services, which is independent of the method of broadcasting.

Distinction between "linear" and "non-linear" services

The new Directive defines the notion of "audiovisual media services" by making a distinction between:

  • linear services *, which are traditional television services, the Internet and mobile telephone services, which "push" content to viewers, and;
  • non-linear services *, i.e. on-demand television, where viewers "pull" content from a network ("video-on-demand", for example).

In accordance with this distinction, the Directive:

  • modernises and simplifies the regulatory framework for linear services;
  • introduces basic rules for non-linear services, including rules on the protection of minors, the prevention of racial hatred and the prohibition of surreptitious advertising *.

All these services will benefit from the country of origin principle and will therefore have to comply only with the legal provisions in force in the country in which they are established. Extending the benefits of this principle to non-linear services will create the best conditions for their commercial success.

A new two-stage procedure applies where broadcasters in other Member States are likely to circumvent the stricter rules of the Member State of destination. A dialogue is begun between the two Member States and, where this is unsuccessful, the Commission intervenes in order to assess the compatibility of the measures proposed by the Member State of destination with Community law.

Relaxing the rules on advertising

The Directive simplifies and relaxes the rules on the insertion of advertising, while encouraging self- and co-regulation.

The existing daily limit of three hours of advertising has been abolished. The Commission has retained the limit of 12 minutes per hour for all forms of advertising to prevent an increase in the total amount of advertising broadcast.

In addition, instead of being compelled to allow at least 20 minutes between each advertising break, the new Directive allows broadcasters to choose the most appropriate moment to insert advertising during programmes.

However, cinematographic works, children's programmes and news programmes may be interrupted by advertising only once per 35-minute period.

The Directive provides support for new forms of advertising, such as split-screen advertising, virtual advertising and interactive advertising.

A clear legal framework for "product placement"

The Directive explicitly defines "product placement" * and establishes a clear legal framework for this. Product placement is the explicit use by characters in a film of a particular brand of product.

The Commission authorises product placement, provided this is specifically identified as such at the beginning of the broadcast. However, product placement is prohibited during news programmes, documentaries and children's programmes.

Pluralism in the media

Three types of measure are provided for, which aim to promote pluralism in the media:

  • the requirement for each Member State to ensure the independence of the national regulatory body responsible for implementing the Directive;
  • the right for television broadcasters to use 'short extracts' in a non-discriminatory manner;
  • the promotion of programmes produced by independent audiovisual production companies in Europe (the previous TVWF Directive already provides for this).

Promotion of cultural diversity

The promotion of cultural diversity is ensured by imposing quotas for media content on broadcasters and other service providers. The Directive currently in force reaffirms the commitment of the EU to support European audiovisual works by allowing Member States to impose quotas on broadcasters in favour of European productions whenever this is possible. These flexible rules on quotas work well and the Member States have no problems meeting the quotas, which have permitted the promotion of independent European productions.

Background

Modernising the legal framework for audiovisual media services is an integral part of the Commission's commitment to " better regulation ". It is also part of the " i2010 - A European Information Society for Growth and Employment " initiative launched by the Commission in June 2005.

Key terms used in the act
  • Linear service: an audiovisual media service received passively by the user, such as conventional television programmes, the Internet and mobile telephony ("push" content).
  • Non-linear service: non-programmed audiovisual media service requested by the user, such as video-on-demand ("pull" content).
  • Surreptitious advertising: the representation in words or pictures of goods, services, the name, the trade mark or the activities of a producer of goods or a provider of services in programmes when this is intended by the broadcaster to serve advertising purposes and might mislead the public as to its nature. Such representation is considered to be intentional in particular if it is in return for payment or for similar consideration.
  • Product placement: any inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or a trade mark within an audiovisual media service, normally in return for payment or for similar consideration.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2007/65/EC [adoption: co-decision COD/2005/0260]19.12.200719.12.2009OJ L 332 of 18.12.2007

RELATED ACTS

TVWF DIRECTIVE

Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities [Official Journal L 298 of 17.10.1989].

Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities [Official Journal L 202 of 30.7.1997].

PROCESS OF REVISING THE TVWF DIRECTIVE

Commission interpretative communication of 23 April 2004 on certain aspects of the provisions on televised advertising in the "Television without frontiers" Directive [Official Journal C 102 of 28.4.2004].

Commission Communication of 15 December 2003 on the future of European regulatory audiovisual policy [COM(2003) 784 final -- Not published in the Official Journal].

 
Last updated: 14.01.2008
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