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European Commission releases updated rules for Europe’s audiovisual media


March 14, 2007: The European Commission has released updated rules for Europe’s audiovisual media services.

The new directive, titled Audiovisual Without Frontiers, is a modernisation of the 1989 Television Without Frontiers and is in response to technological developments, the pace of which have made it necessary to revise many of the former rules substantially.

These days, developments such as web TV, interactive TV and movies on mobile phones are readily available across Europe and, they are competing on “an almost equal footing” with the ‘traditional’ scheduled broadcast, according to Viviane Reding of the Commission for Information Society and Media,

The consumers not only have a much wider choice of programme content because of the increase in cable, satellite and digital channels, they are also able to interact with broadcasters in ways that simply did not exist in 1989 – be it televoting, entering competitions or even donating to charity via the ‘red button.’

According to Reding, “the key issue is that rules devised for one-to-many broadcasting are being rendered obsolete by the shift to one-to-one, on-demand services.”

The new rules, therefore, are less rigid, allowing European TV and film-makers more freedom and ensuring that audiovisual media service providers are only bound by legislation in the country where they are established, rather than having to comply with 27 different sets of rules.

The Commission for Information Society and Media hopes to guarantee that national regulatory authorities are independent from national governments and from all audiovisual media service providers, and to ensure that they work impartially and transparently. Such independence is considered essential to democracy and vital for ensuring media pluralism.

“My aim is this – Europe’s audiovisual content industry should flourish under one of the most modern and flexible sets of rules in the world.” Reding said.

The question of advertising also was discussed. Under the updated directive, rules on TV advertising are to be less specific than they have been since 1989, with the decision on when and how to interrupt programmes left to broadcasters and film-makers and not predetermined in Brussels.

However, 12 minutes remains the maximum amount of advertising permitted in any given hour while films, children's programmes, current affairs programmes and news are not to be interrupted by adverts more than once every 30 minutes.

The Commission remains firm on matters such as cultural diversity, protection of minors, consumer protection, media pluralism, and the fight against racial and religious hatred and the new directive reaffirms all of these as pillars of Europe's audiovisual model.






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