Insights European Commission publishes revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

As part of its Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission has published an updated Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD).

Given the changes that have taken place in technology, the Commission says that it wants to achieve a “better balance of the rules which apply to traditional broadcasters, video-on-demand providers and video-sharing platforms, especially when it comes to protecting children”.  The revised AVMSD also strengthens the promotion of European cultural diversity, ensures the independence of audiovisual regulators and gives more flexibility to broadcasters over advertising.

Following its consultation and subsequent evaluation of the current AVMSD, the Commission’s revised AVMSD makes the following changes:

  • Responsible video-sharing platforms: platforms that “organise and tag a large quantity of videos” will have to protect minors from harmful content (such as pornography and violence) and protect all citizens from incitement to hatred. Detailed measures include tools for users to report and flag harmful content, age verification or parental control systems.  As well as industry self-regulation, national audiovisual regulators will have the power to enforce the rules, which, depending on national legislation, may also lead to fines;
  • A stronger role for audiovisual regulators: the revised AVMSD ensures that regulatory authorities are “truly independent from governments and industry” and ensure that audiovisual media acts in the interest of viewers. The role of the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), composed of all 28 national audiovisual regulators, will be enshrined in legislation. The ERGA will assess co-regulatory codes of conduct and advise the European Commission;
  • More European creativity: currently, European TV broadcasters invest around 20% of their revenue in original content and on-demand providers less than 1%. The Commission wants TV broadcasters to continue to dedicate at least half of viewing time to European works and will oblige on-demand providers to ensure at least a 20% share of European content in their schedules.  The proposal also allows Member States request on-demand services to contribute financially to Europeans works; and
  • More flexibility for TV broadcasters: viewers who do not want to see TV advertisements can now switch to online ad-free offerings. The revised AVMSD gives broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown: the overall limit of 20% of broadcasting time would be maintained between 7 am and 11 pm, but instead of the current 12 minutes per hour, broadcasters would be able to choose more freely when to show ads throughout the day.  Broadcasters and on-demand providers would also have greater flexibility to use product placement and sponsorship.

The Commission says that the revised AVMSD is “expected to have a positive economic impact for media service providers – mainly TV broadcasters – and increase their capacity to invest in audiovisual content”.  This is important for the competitiveness of the EU audiovisual industry as a whole, it says.  To read the Commission’s press release in full and for a link to the revised AVMSD text, click here.