The European Parliament is currently debating legislation on audiovisual media services that is in line with 21st century realities on media use in the European Union. Specifically, the proposed legislation tackles two crucial aspects of the use of audiovisual services that have become concerning for consumers and producers alike. The Parliament is working for this legislation to be updated in view of changing market realities and to bring it in line with market, consumption and technological developments.
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN FROM ONLINE HATE SPEECH
Firstly and crucially, this legislation will increase the protection of minors accessing audiovisual services. UNESCO cautions that the endurance of hate speech materials online is due to its low costs and its great potential for rapid revival. The fractured governance of the Internet places the onus on the EU’s shoulders to protect its most vulnerable citizens while continuing to uphold the importance of freedom of expression.
The proposal enables the streamlining of protection standards for television broadcasters and for on-demand services, and, if adopted, this legislation will shield children against physical, mental or moral corruption. This is critical particularly because one in three Internet users is a child. Compared with 2010, children aged eleven to 16 years old are up to 20 percent more likely to be exposed to hate messages online, with frequently devastating consequences.
Moreover, the proposal regulates video-sharing platform services, like YouTube, that do not have editorial liability for the content they store but that organise such content. It imposes a set of rules on them to protect minors from compromising content and to safeguard all citizens from hate speech.
EU countries will be expected to ensure that audiovisual media services provided by service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to violence or hate speech directed against an individual or a group of persons on the basis of their race, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, gender, cultural beliefs and characteristics, residence or health status.
PROTECTING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN A RAPIDLY-CHANGING FIELD
Secondly, the proposed legislation addresses the need to update the audiovisual services law to reflect consumer preferences and stakeholder operations. This proposal intends to create a level playing field for both EU content and content produced in EU countries, in an effort to bolster the Digital Single Market. It promotes equilibrium between traditional broadcasters and on-demand audiovisual content and video-sharing platforms, and strives to ensure that on-demand services promote EU content.
However, it should be noted that differences between traditional broadcasters and video-sharing platforms should be taken into account and the future framework should adequately ensure that freedom of expression and information are optimally protected in such a rapidly-evolving media landscape.
Moreover, the updated legislation should also provide a fair deal on product placement and sponsorship, mindful of the fact that the emergence of new services, including without advertising, has led to a greater choice for consumers, who can easily turn to alternative offers.