Adapting to technological changes, preserving European competitiveness and fundamental values in audiovisual services


24-May-2017
The Council has reached today a general approach on the proposal for a revised directive on audiovisual media services (AVMS). The aim of the proposal is to respond to the unprecedented technological and market changes that the digital shift has brought about in order to boost the competitiveness of Europe's audiovisual industry, while preserving fundamental values such as the protection of minors, media pluralism, cultural diversity and consumer protection.

​Following intensive work at Council level under the Slovak and Maltese Presidencies, and building on the good basis that is the Commission proposal, today the Maltese Presidency managed to obtain agreement (a general approach) in Council on a text that provides the necessary rules to shape technological developments in order to protect our citizens and particularly our children, whilst preserving freedom of speech. This text will now form the basis of negotiations with the European Parliament. As a result of the text agreed upon today, we now have a level-playing field for TV broadcasting and on-demand services. We have also extended the scope of the Directive to emerging audiovisual media such as video-sharing platforms and social media services that provide a significant amount of audiovisual content. This is all done in order to protect minors and citizens from harmful audiovisual content, such as hate speech, violence and terrorism. 

Our Ministers have also agreed to a text that provides for more effective jurisdiction rules as well as strengthened cooperation procedures, especially when it comes to problems relating to cross-border services, for instance those arising from providers established in one country but targeting an audience in another country. Furthermore, it will be easier for a member state to take action if it considers that a programme coming from a provider in another member state presents a serious risk to its public security or public health.The text agreed upon today also preserves cultural diversity by providing that European works will also be promoted on on-demand service providers through a minimum 30% quota of European works in their catalogues. Member states will also have the possibility to require a financial contribution from media service providers, including those established in another member state, with exemptions for start-ups and small enterprises. Minister have also agreed to provide more flexible rules on audiovisual commercial communications, whilst reinforcing qualitative requirements on alcohol and cigarette advertising.

And lastly, but equally importantly, the text agreed upon today also includes provisions that: guarantee the independence of national media regulators; safeguard media pluralism; provide for the transparency of media ownership and ensure accessibility for people with disabilities. 

Minister Bonnici said "We are very proud to have reached an agreement on the audio-visual media services. This is a complex directive which touches upon very sensitive issues such as the internal market, fundamental rights and freedoms, cultural diversity and the protection of minors. 

But the marketplace and technology are developing rapidly. We have to ensure that the relevant rules keep pace with these changes. Today's agreement in the Council  constitutes a further step forward in the completion of the Digital Single Market, which is vital for Europe's future prosperity

Next steps

The agreement at the Council will pave the way for starting negotiations with the European Parliament, probably still under the Maltese Presidency, with a view to adopting the directive  as soon as possible. 

Background

The Commission presented its proposal  in May 2016 as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy.

The proposal has been under examination at Council during several presidencies and a progress report was presented by the Slovak Presidency in November 2016.

The Culture and Education Committee (CULT) voted its report on 25 April 2017 and the EP plenary granted a mandate to the CULT Committee on 17 May to start negotiations with the Council.