Like other goods and services, audiovisual media - film, TV, video - are subject to certain EU-wide rules to ensure they can circulate freely and fairly in the single European market, regardless of how they are delivered (traditional TV, video-on-demand, internet, etc.).
The EU is also investing €1.4bn in the audiovisual and cultural sectors through the Creative Europe programme.
The audiovisual media services directive requires EU countries to coordinate national legislation with each other to:
Each country is encouraged to follow minimum standards for the following:
In 2013, the Commission held a public consultation on the implications of the convergence between traditional TV and the internet.Feedback from this consultation was published and the next step is to carry out a REFIT evaluation of the Directive.
The audiovisual media services directive promotes cultural diversity by supporting the production and distribution of European films and other audiovisual content:
Internationally, the EU is party to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and has secured an exemption from the WTO's free-trade rules (the ‘cultural exception’), that entitles EU countries to limit imports of cultural items like films.
EU countries are committed to public broadcasting services - the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam recognised their role in providing for democratic, social and cultural needs that are not met by the market, and preventing the industry from being dominated by one or more big players.
Government grants to public broadcasters are therefore exempt from the EU's strict rules on state subsidies, as long as the funding is used for public service goals and does not unfairly disadvantage private sector broadcasters.
The 7-year Creative Europe programme aims to strengthen Europe’s cultural and audiovisual sectors by providing funding for at least:
It will also make up to €750 million available to small businesses in the sector as guaranteed bank loans.
The main aims of the Creative Europe programme are to:
The EU wants to conserve and protect major works of cultural importance - including film.To do this, it issued a recommendation on Europe's film heritage, asking EU countries to collect, catalogue, preserve and restore films.This means future generations will also be able to enjoy these works.
Updated in November 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series