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Brussels, 29 March 2011

Digital Agenda: Commission seeks information from 16 Member States on their implementation of Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The European Commission has written to 16 Member States seeking information about their implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. The Commission has asked the Member States to reply within 10 weeks. The fact-finding letters are part of the Commission's efforts to ensure that the national media laws of all Member States correctly implement all aspects of the AVMS rules. The issues raised vary from one Member State to the other. The requests for information do not imply that the Directive has been incorrectly implemented by the Member States concerned but simply that, at this stage, the Commission has some outstanding questions concerning their implementation of the Directive.

The AVMS Directive (2010/13/EU) ensures a Single Market and legal certainty for Europe's TV and audiovisual industry by creating a level playing field for both broadcast and on-demand audiovisual media services across frontiers while preserving cultural diversity, protecting children and consumers, safeguarding media pluralism and combating racial and religious hatred. The Directive is based on the "country of origin" principle, whereby audiovisual media service providers are subject to the regulations in their country of origin only and cannot be subject to regulation in the destination country except in very limited circumstances laid down by Article 3 of the AVMS Directive - e.g. incitement to hatred). EU Member States agreed to implement the AVMS Directive into their national law by 19 December 2009 (see IP/09/1983).

The Commission has finished a preliminary analysis of measures notified by 16 Member States to implement the AVMS Directive in their national law: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. On the basis of this preliminary analysis the Commission is sending follow-up fact-finding letters to verify further whether and how the different aspects such as the rules on country of origin, product placement, incitement to hatred and protection of minors have been implemented. Three Member States, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia, have not yet notified to the Commission measures to implement the AVMS Directive into their national law and are currently subject to infringement procedures (see IP/10/803). Currently the Commission is in the process of analysing the measures notified by the rest of the Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Luxemburg, Lithuania and Latvia), following which a second round of letters may be sent during the second quarter of 2011.

Which issues do the questions submitted to the Member States touch upon?

The following wide range of issues related to the implementation of the Directive have been raised in the requests for clarification (see MEMO/11/199 for further details of these issues):

  • the country of origin principle and jurisdiction issues concerning audiovisual services

  • audiovisual commercial communications (including product placement and sponsorship television advertising and teleshopping)

  • basic obligations under the Directive (such as identification requirements, rules on incitement to hatred, on accessibility, balanced coverage obligations, registration of on-demand services)

  • the right of reply (anyone whose legitimate interests, have been damaged by an assertion of incorrect facts in a television programme must have a right of reply or equivalent remedies)

  • the protection of minors

  • promoting European works

  • events of major importance to be broadcast on free to air television and short news extracts

  • cooperation between regulators.


The original "Television without Frontiers" Directive was adopted in 1989 (IP/91/898) and amended for the first time in 1997 (IP/97/552). In December 2007, an amending Directive was adopted (see IP/07/1809, MEMO/08/803). On 10 March 2010, the provisions of the original "Television without frontiers" Directive were merged with the provisions contained in the amending directives to form the codified version of the now called "Audiovisual Media Services" Directive.

Details of the AVMS Directive can be found at:

Neelie Kroes' website:

Digital Agenda website:

Follow VP Kroes on Twitter:

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