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Brussels, 12 July 2005

Commission starts final phase in consultations on modernising EU rules for audiovisual content

The Commission made public today the preliminary conclusions drawn from the consultations of experts and stakeholders on the future EU rules for audiovisual content. These new rules would cover – in a manner adapted to the type of service – audiovisual content services, whether linear or non-linear, whatever the delivery platform (e.g. broadcast, high-speed broadband, third generation mobiles). The objective is to provide a pro-competitive and flexible framework for audiovisual content services in Europe. Interested parties now have the opportunity to submit comments by 5 September. Following this final round of consultations, the Commission will present a proposal for the new EU rules, which will replace the Television Without Frontiers Directive of 1989.

“I want the new EU rules on audiovisual content to be an example of better regulation”, said Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media. “My objective is to give Europe’s media industry the most modern and flexible rules in the world. The new rules should unfold the opportunities of the emerging multimedia world which will offer increased competition and consumer choice, while clearly spelling out general public interest objectives such as cultural diversity and protection of minors. Existing rules, which have been overtaken by technological and market developments, must be abolished.”

Commissioner Reding’s comments mark the beginning of the final phase of the review of the “Television Without Frontiers Directive” of 1989, a process which had been started in 2003 and culminated in the work of four Focus Groups of experts and stakeholders from October 2004 to June 2005. From these consultations, it has emerged that Europe’s audiovisual sector is undergoing dramatic changes. Soon telecom providers will be able to deliver broadcasting services in a quality equal to traditional TV, while traditional content providers will enter the communications markets. Consumers will more and more watch or listen to audiovisual content anytime, anywhere, on all technical platforms (TV set, computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, etc.). To take account of these developments, the present rules in the “Television Without Frontiers Directive” will need to be replaced by a more modern and flexible set of rules.

To structure the final debate on the new EU rules, the Commission Services published now five issues papers, which summarise the results of the discussions so far. These issue papers focus on the following topics:

  • Towards a modern set of rules for audiovisual content: Scope and juridictional matters
  • Commercial Communications
  • Protection of Minors and Human Dignity, Right of Reply
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Rights to Information and Short Extracts.

These issues papers are, from today, subject to public consultation. They are meant to prepare a major audiovisual conference co-organised with the UK Presidency in Liverpool from 20 -22 September 2005. This conference will deal with the subjects of the issues papers and also include an exchange of views on media pluralism.

The observations of interested parties as well as the Liverpool Conference will provide the final input for the new EU rules on audiovisual content, which the Commission intends to propose at the end of 2005.

The modernisation of the EU rules for audiovisual content is part of the Commission’s i2010 initiative, launched on 1 June 2005.

The issues papers can be found at:

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