Like other goods and services, audiovisual media - film, TV, video, radio - 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.).
This is the aim of the EU's audiovisual & media policy, and more particularly the audiovisual media services directive . In addition the EU is investing some €1.4bn in the audiovisual and cultural sectors through its Creative Europe programme.
EU rules protect children against harmful material.
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:
The Commission has also explored the implications for Europe of the convergence between traditional TV and the internet through a public consultation in 2013.
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 place limits on 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 provided by the market, and preventing the industry from being dominated by one or more big players.
To this end, government grants to public broadcasters are excepted from the EU's strict rules on state subsidies - provided the funding is used for public-service goals and does not unfairly disadvantage private broadcasters.
The 7-year Creative Europe programme aims to strengthen Europe’s cultural and creative sectors by providing funding for at least:
It will also launch a new financial guarantee facility enabling small businesses in the sector to access up to €750m in bank loans.
The EU supports European film-makers.
The EU encourages its member countries to cooperate in conserving and safeguarding major works of cultural significance - and this includes cinema. To this end it has issued a Recommendation calling for Europe's film heritage to be methodically collected, catalogued, preserved and restored - so it can be passed on to future generations.
Updated in November 2014
This publication is part of the 'European Union explained' series