The media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. These days we can watch our favourite programmes - shows from all over Europe - not just on TV, but also via the internet or on our mobile devices.
Children are watching less traditional TV: the average daily viewing time for young Europeans in 2014 was 2 hours i.e. about half as much as for the average viewer. The global internet video share in consumer internet traffic is expected to increase from 64% in 2014 to 80% by 2019.
European audiovisual media rules fit for the digital era
Like other services and goods, audiovisual media are subject to the rules of the European Single Market.
How was audiovisual policy regulated many decades ago?
The first attempts to shape a European Union audiovisual policy were triggered by the developments of satellite broadcasting in the early 1980s. Since the adoption of the Television without Frontiers Directive (TVwF) in 1989, technological and market developments made it necessary to amend the audiovisual regulatory framework. It was revised in 1997 and 2007. With the last revision, the Directive was renamed the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and then codified in 2010.
Instead of sitting in front of the family TV, millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices.
Taking into account emerging developments, the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive is coming soon.
This is a new deal by the European Commission, the EU Council and the European Parliament.
Safeguarding European cultural diversity, protecting consumers and fighting against hate speech and terrorist offences
What are the benefits for media users and the audiovisual media sector itself?
Now the EU institutions have made European media rules fit for the digital era. Finally a level of protection was agreed for internet media services similar to that in place for traditional broadcast media.
Some very significant cornerstones of the new audiovisual media rules:
First, very good news for the European film sector and our European cultural diversity. The quotas for European works will be 30% for both TV service providers and video-on-demand service providers in their catalogues (‘Netflix quota’).
Second, a level of protection for internet media services was negotiated which is similar to that in place for traditional broadcast media. This means that users will get equal protection whether they are watching a film on traditional TV or on on-demand TV.
Third, strict rules on advertising and product placement in children’s programmes and content available on VOD platforms. Broadcasters are required to put in place measures to effectively reduce children’s exposure to publicity for unhealthy food and beverages. The transparency rules for advertising, especially on product placement and sponsorship, will now also apply to video-sharing platforms. This is a great achievement for the protection of consumers, especially children and minors. It was one of our our main goals to protect consumers against excessive advertising.
Fourth, the existing rules already cover traditional TV broadcasters and video on-demand services. In the updated rules, the scope of application has been extended to also cover video-sharing platforms. The revised rules will also apply to user-generated videos shared on platforms like Facebook, when providing audiovisual content is an essential functionality of the service.
A video-sharing platform is defined as a commercial service addressed to the public where the principal purpose of the service (or an essential functionality of such service) is devoted to providing programmes and user-generated videos to the general public, in order to inform, entertain or educate; which is made available by electronic communications networks; and where the content is organised in a way determined by the provider of the service, in particular by displaying, tagging and sequencing.
This means that services such as YouTube will fall under the scope of the revised Directive. Audiovisual content shared on social media services, such as Facebook, will also be covered by the new deal.
While newspaper websites remain outside the scope of the rules, standalone parts of newspapers' websites which feature audiovisual programmes or user-generated videos will be considered as video-sharing platforms for the purpose of the AVMSD. However, any occasional use of videos on websites, blogs or news portals will be outside the scope of the rules.
Last, but not least, stronger rules against hate speech and public provocation to commit terrorist offences, that prohibit incitement to violence or hatred and provocation to commit terrorist offences in audiovisual media services as well as on video-sharing platforms.