Brussels, 24 May 2007
After a legislative process of 18 months only, a political agreement has been reached today on the new Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive. Both the European Parliament and Council agreed on the main aims of the Commission original proposal to modernise the rules governing the audiovisual services industry. It will offer a comprehensive legal framework that covers all audiovisual media services, less detailed and more flexible regulation and modernised rules on TV advertising to better finance audiovisual content. The Directive should enter into force by the end of 2007.
"Today, we have made a decisive step towards a true internal market for audiovisual media services and to a more competitive European audiovisual content industry," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "This important piece of modernising legislation brings Europe's audiovisual policies into the 21st century, providing a welcome shot in the arm to industry. It promises less regulation, better financing for European content and higher visibility to Europe's key values, cultural diversity and the protection of minors."
The new Audiovisual Media Services without frontiers Directive, now agreed by Parliament and Council, will allow the audiovisual sector confront the profound changes it faces to accommodate technological and market developments, and changing viewing habits resulting from convergence. The Directive ensures that the modernised rules cover all audiovisual media services, regardless of the transmission technology used - from traditional TV broadcasts to emerging on-demand TV-like services. This will help the sector become more competitive in the future.
The modernised Directive remains fully based on the country of origin principle. It contains a procedure, based on European Court of Justice law, that allows Member States to take binding measures against broadcasters from other Member States that circumvent the target country's national rules.
Audiovisual producers will also benefit of less detailed and more flexible advertising rules, opening up new attractive avenues of finance, and will ultimately stimulate the content production sector.
Citizens are granted new rights by the modernised Directive. This includes the right to access extracts of important events for general new purposes, clear identification of the media service provider; improved access for people with visual or hearing disability to audiovisual media services, and clear rules on product placement, obliging broadcasters to inform consumers when it takes place.
The new Directive also reasserts key European values, requiring Member States to protect minors, to promote European works and independent audiovisual productions, and to prohibit content that would incite religious or racial hatred. It also explicitly encourages industry self-regulation and co-regulation (see IP/07/138).
With the rapid progress on reaching a political agreement between the European Parliament and in the Council of Ministers, of only 18 months, the Directive is expected to enter into force before 2007 ends. Member States will be given 24 months to transpose the new provisions into national law, so that the modernised legal framework for audiovisual business will fully apply in 2009.
On 13 December 2005, the Commission proposed revising the "Television Without Frontiers" Directive to address significant technological and market developments in audiovisual services (see IP/05/1573 and MEMO/06/208). The Commission adopted an updated proposal for a modernised draft audiovisual services directive on 9 March 2007 (see IP/07/311) to pave the way for this early agreement of its second reading by Parliament and Council (see MEMO/07/206).
The text of the Directive and related frequently asked questions are available from the press pack: