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Commission calls on Member States to rule with a light hand while updating TV rules in 2009
Commission Européenne - IP/08/2032 18/12/2008
Brussels, 18 December 2008
One year after the entry into force of a new EU Directive meant to liberalise TV rules and remove outdated and bureaucratic restrictions on the provision of digital TV over the internet, video on demand and mobile TV in Europe, EU Member States have made little progress in adapting national rules. Only Romania has comprehensively implemented the new EU audiovisual media rules that entered into force on 19 December 2007 (IP/07/1809). The EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers on a proposal from the Commission (IP/05/1573) rebooted the old EU rules on traditional TV broadcasting for the digital age and its new generation of TV-like services. The other 26 Member States are currently putting the modernised rules for Europe's audiovisual industry into national law. They have until December 2009. By then the EU should have a single market for all audiovisual media services, providing legal certainty for businesses and more diverse and quality programming for viewers.
"The new EU rules are an opportunity to create a single market for the digital age, and I urge Member States to put them in place quickly and in a flexible manner so that TV producers, broadcasters and viewers benefit from them as soon as possible," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "We updated the EU's rules on TV because of rapidly changing technology and the need to strengthen the competitiveness of Europe's audiovisual industry. For Member States, this represents a chance to abolish outdated restrictions, to strengthen co- and self-regulation, especially in advertising, to strengthen the right to information, and to promote quality and diversity. However, I am concerned that some Member States appear to see the new rules as an excuse for adding red tape. We have created better regulation at EU level and I expect Member States to do the same at national level. "
Half-way through the two year window given to Member States to put new EU rules on TV and TV-like services like video on demand and mobile video, only Romania has already fully implemented the Audiovisual Media Services Directive in national law (Status of all 27 Member States: see annex).
On 25 November, Romania adopted a new Government decree amending its Audiovisual law of 2002 to carry out the changes of the new EU Directive. Romania has made use of all the liberalisation options offered by the Directive, including product placement. The Commission will check if these amendments fully carry out the 2007 EU Directive as soon as it is officially notified of them.
The other 26 EU Member States, as well as the European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) and the candidate countries (Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey), are still putting the new rules in place. However, progress is slow in many Member States: some governments have not yet held public consultations on how the EU rules will work in their country (Denmark, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain). In some Member States, drafts of the new rules are ready for parliamentary procedures early next year (Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands and Portugal).
Luxembourg has stated it has already implemented some of the new rules, notably those concerning advertising. Austria will follow in January. In France, a draft bill was submitted to the National Assembly last month. The revised law could be adopted by both chambers of the French parliament early next year. The French draft law gives the independent regulator (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel) the power to regulate product placement.
The new EU rules make it easier for producers and providers of TV programmes to access financing from new forms of audiovisual advertising such as split screen advertising or product placement, which is allowed in all programmes except news, documentaries and children programmes. Broadcasters can more easily interrupt programmes thanks to the removal of the rule imposing a twenty minute period between advertising breaks. The new EU rules aim to strengthen Europe's TV and audiovisual industry by reducing regulation and creating a level-playing field for audiovisual media services "without frontiers".
On 13 December 2005, the Commission proposed revising the "Television without Frontiers" Directive to address significant technological and market developments in audiovisual services (IP/05/1573, MEMO/06/208). The Commission adopted an updated proposal for a modernised draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive on 9 March 2007 (IP/07/311) to pave the way for this early agreement of its second reading by Parliament and Council (MEMO/07/206). The European Parliament approved the Council's common position and the Directive entered into force on 18 December 2007.
The Directive is available at: