Brussels, 10 July 2007
Tennis, rugby, cycling and football now on France's list of major events planned under the "Television without frontiers" Directive
The list of major events notified by France was today published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The option of submitting a list, which the "Television without frontiers" Directive has allowed since 1997 and will be maintained in the new Directive on audiovisual media services, will enable the French authorities to guarantee that most French viewers have access to certain major events on free-to-air TV. The French list will oblige broadcasters established in France and all broadcasters in other Member States which may obtain exclusive rights over events to broadcast them on channels received by at least 85% of French homes.
"With Europe due to host the Rugby World Cup in the autumn and the European Football Championship next year, I am pleased that France has availed itself of the right which the European Union has given it to provide the general public with free-to-air access to major events on widely viewed channels and I call upon Member States who have not given their public this opportunity to follow suit", said Viviane Reding, Commissioner responsible for the Information Society and the Media.
Along with the major events on other Member States' list, such as the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, the World Cup and European Football Championship semi-finals and finals, the French list includes other sports events of particular interest to the French public such as the finals of the Roland Garros men's and women's singles tennis tournament, the semi-finals and finals of the Rugby World Cup, the Six Nations rugby tournament, the men's and women's finals of the world and European basketball and handball championships when France is playing, the men's Tour de France and the World Athletics Championship.
France's list, which has been approved by the Commission, and the terms governing its use now apply to all European broadcasters who may obtain rights to retransmit these events in France.
The new Directive on "Audiovisual media services without frontiers" on which the Council reached political agreement on 24 May (see IP/07/706 and IP/07/311) and which must enter into force by the end of 2007 and be transposed into national law by the end of 2009, does not change the provision regarding events of major importance introduced when the "Television without frontiers" Directive was revised in 1997 (the Directive dates back to 1989). What it adds, in the name of the right to information, is a new right for broadcasters to have access to short extracts of major highlights for broadcasting in news bulletins.
Member States wishing to avail themselves of the option provided in Article 3(a) of the "Television without frontiers" Directive are required to send their national list to the European Commission, which will examine the list and the terms governing its use before taking a decision on its use which then applies to all European operators. Once it has been approved by the Commission, the list is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. To date, Austria, Belgium, Finland (see IP/07/877), Germany, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom have notified national lists to the Commission.
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