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Brussels, 21 December 2009

Time up for Member States to tune TV rules to digital age

Two years after the adoption of modernising EU TV rules ( IP/07/1809 ) removing outdated restrictions on digital TV over the internet, video on demand and mobile TV, only three countries – Belgium, Romania and Slovakia – have officially notified the European Commission of measures putting them in place, as required under EU law. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive) rebooted EU rules on traditional TV broadcasting for the digital age. EU countries had until 19 December 2009 to turn the modernised rules for Europe's audiovisual industry into national law. The Directive creates a single market for all audiovisual media services, providing legal certainty for businesses and protection for consumers.

"Two years ago, industry and consumers were already waiting impatiently for new, more flexible EU rules that remove outdated bureaucratic red tape and take account of new technological developments," said Viviane Reding, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner. "We updated the EU TV rules to make Europe's audiovisual industry more competitive. I urgently call on EU countries to adapt their national laws to ensure that new advertising techniques enabled by the AVMS Directive are also possible – there can be no excuse for any more delay with their implementation. The Commission will not shy away from using its powers under the Treaty to ensure this happens effectively. Remember that the Court of Justice has said many times that a lot of these rules can apply directly as of 19 December 2009, meaning that businesses and consumers can count on them even if their country's laws have not yet taken account of the modernised Directive."

After the two year period given EU countries to transpose the new EU rules on TV and TV-like services like video on demand and mobile video, only Belgium, Romania and Slovakia have notified the Commission of full implementation. Denmark, France, Luxemburg and the UK have notified the Commission of some measures taken to put the AVMS Directive in place. Hungary's legislative process came to a complete halt after the draft law did not pass in Parliament. The Directive has been partly put in place by Austria, Germany, Ireland, Malta and the Netherlands without the Commission being notified. In other countries, the draft law is still being discussed, has just been published, or is still in public consultation (see annex).

Under EU law, Directives are binding legal instruments for Member States that allow national authorities to choose the form and methods that achieve their objectives. The European Court of Justice says that parts of a Directive may be directly effective after the deadline in an EU country even if it has not (or not adequately) been implemented. To this end, it has to set out individual rights and be clear, precise and unconditional. If so, people can hold public authorities to such parts of a Directive.

The new EU audiovisual rules make it easier for producers and providers of TV programmes to access financing from new forms of advertising such as split screen advertising or product placement, which is allowed in all programmes except news, documentaries and children's programmes. Broadcasters have more flexibility in programming with the removal of rules imposing a twenty minute period between advertising breaks. The new EU rules strengthen Europe's TV and audiovisual industry by reducing regulation and creating a level-playing field for audiovisual media services "without frontiers". They ensure that public interest rules, like the protection of minors and human dignity, apply to all audiovisual services, including on-demand, over fixed, mobile or satellite networks.

The Commission opens infringement proceedings against any EU country that fails to officially notify the Commission of measures taken to apply EU Directives in national law. Under old EU law, this could lead to a fine after two judgements of the Court of Justice of the EU. Since 1 December 2009, under the Lisbon Treaty, when the Commission brings such a case against an EU country before the Court, it may specify a lump sum or penalty payment to be paid by the Member State concerned.


On 13 December 2005, the Commission proposed revising the "Television without Frontiers" Directive to address technological and market changes in audiovisual services ( IP/05/1573 , MEMO/06/208 ). The Commission proposed a modernised Audiovisual Media Services Directive on 9 March 2007 ( IP/07/311 ) paving the way for an early agreement 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 AVMS Directive can be found at:


State of play on the implementation of the new Directive in EU Member States



Pre-legislative stage

LU: draft law to be submitted to Council of Government.

PL: guiding rules for the draft law published in July 2000. Inter service consultations on the draft law were finalised on 25 November 2009. It should be adopted by the Council of beginning 2010. Adoption by the Parliament no sooner than the 2 nd quarter of 2010


Public consultation on draft legislation

AT: second part of legislation (rules other than advertising) drafted + submitted to public consultation. Delay because of recent state aid compromise with Commission which led to amendments, especially the supervision of broadcasters. (" Umsetzung betreffend ORF und Anpassung aller anderen Regelungen (außer Fernsehwerbung und Teleshopping) seit 18.11.2009 in Begutachtung ")

- Federal level: Telemediengesetz and preliminary Tabakgesetz will be submitted to the new Government, then to federal Parliament
EE: Draft text will be submitted to the Government beginning of January 2010. A new regulatory structure including a completely new licensing procedure shall be introduced.

EL: public consultation ended 25/07/09.

IE: public consultation on the Broadcasting Act 2009 - Targeted consultation on the Statutory Instrument to transpose elements not covered by the Broadcasting Act (non-linear services) also completed.

IT: The general law authorising the government to issue a legislative decree implementing the Directive was adopted mid-July. The draft of the decree is currently elaborated by the government and shall be adopted in January 2010.

SE: public consultation ended late March 09 - Government decision on legislative proposal to be taken in November 09

PT: Law will soon be submitted before the Parliament. Adoption foreseen in 2010.

Text before Parliament

BG: Text before the first chamber. Vote expected on 16 December. Adoption before the 2 nd chamber expected before the end of December 2009

CY: 2 different draft laws, one for public service broadcasters and one for commercial broadcasters were submitted to Parliament. They are with the legal department of the Government since 8 December 2009. After examination they will be forwarded to Parliament for final discussion and voting.

CZ: draft law approved by the government, before the Parliament, vote in plenary expected in February 2010.

DE: - Länder level: Interstate Broadcasting Treaty adopted by Länder Ministers on 28 October 2009, will now be ratified by the 16 Länder parliaments.

ES: since October 16

FI: adoption scheduled beginning of 2010

HU: The text was submitted to the Parliament but it was not put on the agenda since it did not get the sufficient amount of votes. Unclear when Parliament will continue.

LT : draft law awaiting adoption in Parliament by special procedure.

LV: The draft Law on Electronic Media was adopted by Government on 8 October 2009. First reading in parliament has taken place, amendments will be submitted to 2 nd reading.

MT: Adoption foreseen for the 3 rd week of December 2009

UK: Separate product placement on TV regulations expected to be before Parliament in early 2010 (current UK legislation prohibits TV product placement).

Television Product Placement legislation expected to come into force late March 2010.

Legislation adopted

AT : 1 st part of rules concerning advertising ( Regelungen zu Fernsehwerbung und Teleshopping für Private seit 1. März 2009 im Privatfernsehgesetz umgesetzt )

DE: only definition of linear and non-linear services

DK: Law adopted on 10/12/2009

IE: Broadcasting Bill (covering large part of AVMSD) adopted on 12/07/09.

NL: law adopted by the Parliament, signature by the Queen and publication expected in the coming days, notification will happen in the coming week


Partial notifications :


FR (main legislation notably on scope, general rules, public service broadcasters and advertising rules)

LU (liberalisation rules on TV advertising)

UK (main legislation)

Complete notifications :




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