Media lawyers meet in Brussels as Audio Visual Directive is reformed

by Jane Whyat
Boxsets, Netflix, video on demand – all Europe’s many international TV and video services will soon be governed by a new Audio Visual Directive. Converging technologies mean that some newspapers that publish online videos (for example, Bild, the Guardian) will also be regarded as ’TV-like’ and face a new regulatory regime.

Insights into the new Directive were presented at the CIRCOM European broadcasters conference in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, by Laura Sboarina of Cullen International. You can watch her presentation here.

The main impact of the new Directive will be to establish clear simple rules on the Country of Origin (COO) of audio-visual content, and make it obligatory for member states to keep a database of services that originate in their territory. The COO will determine the jurisdiction that must deal with any complaints or infringements. To boost the EU’s creative industries, a 20 percent quota of European works will be imposed on all major on-demand movie and video services.

Other provisions deal with the protection of children and young people, the prevention of hate speech and the duty of broadcasters to police their own programming to ensure that it does not promote, for example, unhealthy habits such as consuming alcohol and cigarettes and junk food.

This ’light touch’ or self-regulation applies to all advertising. So in the new Directive more flexibility is allowed for hidden advertising such as product placement. For example, if the hero of a TV series wears a certain brand of watch, and the camera lingers on the watch at some point during each episode – that is product placement and it will be allowable under the new system. Of course the watch manufacturer pays for the placement, but the viewer may not realise that this is a subtle form of advertising because there is no commercial break. The total amount of advertising within commercial breaks must not exceed 20% of the airtime, or twelve minutes per hour.

To ensure the political and financial independence of the audio visual industries, the Directive states:

The independence of audiovisual regulators will be enshrined into EU law by ensuring that they are legally distinct and functionally independent from the industry and government (e.g. they do not seek nor take instructions), operate in a transparent and accountable manner which is set out in a law and have sufficient powers.”

The Annual Conference on European Media

2-3 June 2016, in Rue de l’Aqueduc 118, B-1050 Brussels

Here you can find the programme to the event here.
If you would like to participate, you can register here.

Europe’s media lawyers will hear from the EU commissioner himself how new reforms will impact cultural diversity at a conference in Brussels from 2 to 3 June.

Organised by ECPMF’S legal partner EMR, the Institute of European Media Law, the conference features a keynote speech by the Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. He will explain the importance for cultural diversity and media pluralism of the new Directive. The conference will also tackle tricky issues such as geo-blocking. This happens when, for example, national broadcasters limit online access to their programming to people whose computer IP addresses are in their territory, and offer alternative news and programming (usually funded by the country’s Foreign Office) to viewers and listeners overseas.

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Source information: This article was originally published by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom –