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Update to EU film and video rules to promote European films

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Update to EU film and video rules to promote European films

Image © Sergio J Lievano - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - An update for EU audiovisual rules outlined by the Commission Wednesday looks to promote European films as well as protect children and tackle hate speech with a 'new approach to online platforms'.

The updated Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) would, says the Commission, provide a "better balance" for 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.

The 'new approach' towards online platforms - such as online marketplaces, search engines, payment systems, social media, video and content-sharing sites - moves away from a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to looking at each area where the EU can act, from telecoms to copyright rules, to address any specific problems "in a future-proof way for all market players".

"I want online platforms and the audiovisual and creative sectors to be powerhouses in the digital economy, not weigh them down with unnecessary rules," says Digital Single Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip. It means "deregulating where necessary for traditional sectors like broadcasting, or extending certain obligations to platforms and other digital players to improve user protection and to reach a level-playing field."

Media framework for the 21st century

The Commission proposes:

  • Responsible video-sharing platforms:Platforms which 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. To make sure the measures are future-proof and effective, the Commission will invite all video-sharing platforms to work within the Alliance to better protect minors online, with an aim to come up with a code of conduct for the industry. On top of industry self-regulation, national audiovisual regulators will have the power to enforce the rules, which depending on national legislation, can also lead to fines.
  • A stronger role for audiovisual regulators:The Directive will now ensure that regulatory authorities are truly independent from governments and industry, and can play their role best:ensure that audiovisual media act 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 set out in EU legislation. 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 revenues 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 20% share of European content in their catalogues. The proposal also clarifies that Member States are able to ask on-demand services available in their country to contribute financially to Europeans works.
  • More flexibility for TV broadcasters: Viewers annoyed by too many TV advertisements can switch to online ad-free offerings which did not exist a decade ago. The revised audiovisual rules respond to this, and other new realities. The revised Directive gives broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown – the overall limit of 20% of broadcasting time is maintained between 7 am and 11 pm, but instead of the current 12 minutes per hour, broadcasters can choose more freely when to show ads throughout the day. Broadcasters and on-demand providers will also have greater flexibility to use product placement and sponsorship, while keeping viewers informed.

These different measures are 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.

Online platforms: opportunities and challenges for Europe

Online platforms play a key role in innovation and growth in the Digital Single Market. They have revolutionised access to information and have connected buyers and sellers in a better and more efficient way. EU action is needed to set the right environment to attract, retain and grow new online platforms innovators.

The Commission outlined a targeted, principles-based approach, to fix problems flagged by respondents to the Commission's public consultation during its year-long assessment of platforms. The Commission says it will support industry and stakeholder efforts for self- and co-regulation to ensure this approach remains flexible and up-to-date. The action areas include:

  • Comparable rules for comparable digital services:Comparable digital services should follow the same or similar rules and, where possible, the Commission should reduce the scope and extent of existing regulation. The Commission will apply these principles in- ongoing reviews of EU telecoms legislation, and of the e-Privacy Directive, for example when considering whether rules on confidentiality should apply to providers of online communications services as well as traditional telecoms companies.
  • An obligation for online platforms to behave responsibly: The existing intermediary liability regime, set out in the e-Commerce Directive should be maintained. Specific problems will be addressed through targeted instruments, such as audiovisual or copyright rules, or enhanced voluntary efforts by industry.
  • Trust is a must:Cross-border enforcement cooperation will ensure that platforms fulfil their obligations regarding consumer rights, for example to clearly indicate sponsored search results. The Commission will also encourage industry to step-up voluntary efforts to tackle practices such as fake or misleading online reviews. The Commission says it will encourage online platforms to recognise different kinds of secure electronic identifications (eID) which offer the same reassurance as their own eID systems.
  • Open markets for a data-driven economy:The free flow of data initiative scheduled for the end of 2016 will facilitate switching and portability of data among different online platforms and cloud computing services.
  • A fair and innovation-friendly business environment: The Commission is to carry out a fact-finding exercise into issues raised in the public consultation by businesses and suppliers who directly interact with platforms. These include, for example, concerns over unfair terms and conditions, in particular for access to important databases, market access and general lack of transparency. On this basis, the Commission will determine, by spring 2017, whether additional EU action in this area is needed.
Further information

Questions and answers on online platforms and on EU audiovisual rules

Documents adopted:

Proposal for a revised Directive on audiovisual media services

Communication on online platforms and the Digital Single Market

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