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European Commission presents new roadmap for short-and medium term update of EU audiovisual policy

Commission Européenne - IP/03/1732   16/12/2003

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IP/03/1732

Brussels, 16 December 2003

European Commission presents new roadmap for short-and medium term update of EU audiovisual policy

The European Commission has just adopted a new policy document on regulation in the audiovisual sector. This follows a wide public consultation on the "Television without frontiers" (TVWF) directive, as well as a comprehensive debate with the member states, which helped to identify those areas where further action is necessary. As a result of the consultation process, the Communication on the future of European regulatory audiovisual policy proposes a two step approach : the rules on television advertising and on the protection of minors will be the subject of new initiatives in the first quarter of 2004. For other issues, where further reflection is needed, work with experts in focus groups and independent studies will take place in 2004 as a preparation for any legislative proposal concerning an update of the Directive that could be put forward in 2005.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Education and Culture, said: " For the time being no information society service has attained an importance or impact comparable to television, that would have justified a complete change of the TVWF directive, which was modified in 1997. But I am convinced that, in the medium term, technological developments and changes in the structure of the audiovisual market will force us to reconsider whether any changes to regulation for the different distribution channels for audiovisual content is necessary. The present Communication provides the road map that should lead to this update of the TVWF directive. This will provide operators with a clear and predictable policy environment in which to plan investment and to develop business strategies."

New Roadmap for EU audiovisual policy

In the short-term, more legal certainty can be provided by an interpretative Communication on the provisions of the Television without Frontiers directive concerning advertising. This interpretative communication will clarify in particular to what extent the present Directive allows new advertising techniques like split-screen advertising. The Communication also announces an update to the Recommendation on the protection of minors and human dignity. This could cover issues relating to media literacy, the right of reply in the on-line environment, and measures against discrimination and incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex or nationality in all online media.

In the medium term, a number of issues need further thought and discussion, which could lead to amendments of the TVWF Directive at a later stage. For some of these issues the Commission will take the advice of independent experts.

Focus groups will be established on regulation of audiovisual content, the level of detail concerning the regulation of advertising and the right to information. Furthermore the Commission has already launched studies on the impact of advertising regulation, and of measures concerning the promotion of the distribution and production of TV programmes. The Commission will also start a study on co-regulation in the media.

The results of the focus groups and the studies will allow the next European Commission to make a sound legislative proposal.

Background

The European Commission submitted, at the beginning of 2003, discussion papers to two series of public hearings in April and June and invited written contributions from all interested parties. The questions in the discussion papers covered all chapters of the "Television without Frontiers" directive and some new aspects like the right to short extracts of events subject to exclusive rights or the use of co-regulatory instruments. The Commission received more than 150 written submissions (about 1350 pages altogether, which are available on the Europa website). Most contributions to the consultation agreed that the Directive has provided a flexible and adequate framework for regulation by Member States and support the Commission's pragmatic approach. Overall, the Directive has made a positive contribution to enabling free movement of broadcasting services within the EU. But the results of the consultation also show where further thinking is needed.

The full text of the Communication is available at :

http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/regul/regul_en.htm


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