EU approves new audiovisual directive

EU approves new audiovisual directive

New 'dawn' for Europe's audiovisual media

The European Parliament has formally approved the Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers directive, paving the way for new laws covering all aspects of audio and visual media in Europe.

The directive sets out to modernise the rules for Europe's rapidly changing audiovisual industry by offering a comprehensive legal framework for all audiovisual media services, including on-demand services.

This includes simpler and more flexible rules on TV advertising that should allow audiovisual content to be better financed.

"The dawn of Europe's convergent audiovisual services industry is breaking," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

"These modernised rules improve legal certainty and reaffirm the country-of-establishment principle.

"Europe's audiovisual policies will better meet the demands of a fast-moving and dynamic industry, while maintaining high consumer protection standards.

"There will be less regulation, better financing for content and greater visibility to cultural diversity and the protection of minors."

In December 2005, the European Commission proposed revising the Television Without Frontiers directive in the face of shifting technological and market developments in audiovisual services.

The new directive follows political agreement set in May by the European Parliament and Council on the main aims and provisions of the directive.

These include a new scope covering all audiovisual media services, as well as more flexible advertising rules, a legal framework for product placement and new rights for citizens.

Member states will be given 24 months to convert the new rules into national law so that they fully apply in 2009.

Reding has asked member states to proceed with a "light touch" and not to add too many strict national provisions which would prevent audiovisual industries from fully benefiting from the new directive.