Audiovisual Media Services Directive - recent developments of the EU legislation

"The media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. Instead of sitting in front of the family TV, millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices. Global internet video share in consumer internet traffic is expected to increase from 64 per cent in 2014 to 80 per cent by 2019", informed the European Commission in a press release issued on 26 April 2018.

As part of its Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy, the Commission proposed a revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in May 2016 that included a new approach to online platforms disseminating audiovisual content. In the second half of April 2018, after having followed a rigorous legislative procedure, a preliminary political agreement was reached (specifically with the European Parliament, Council and Commission) on the main elements of revised rules to apply to audiovisual media across Europe.

The European Commission commented that the agreement will be finalised in June 2018 when the European Parliament, Council and Commission will discuss the last remaining technical details of the proposal. After formal confirmation by the Council and the European Parliament's plenary vote, the new rules will have to be transposed into national law.

The European Commission press release indicated that the agreement paves the way for a fairer regulatory environment for the entire audiovisual sector, including on-demand services and video-sharing platforms. The new rules strengthen the protection of minors and reinforce the battle against hate speech in all audiovisual content. They promote European audiovisual productions and guarantee the independence of audiovisual regulators.

Highlighting the main points of revision in the AVMSD, the European Commission listed the following aspects:

  • Strengthened Country of Origin Principle with more clarity on which Member State's rules apply in each case, and the same procedures for both TV broadcasters and on-demand service providers as well as possibilities for derogations in the event of public security concerns and serious risks to public health.
  • Better protection of minors against harmful content whether on TV or video-on-demand services. The new rules envisage that video-sharing platforms put appropriate measures in place to protect minors.
  • European audiovisual rules extended to video-sharing platforms. The revised Directive will also apply to user-generated videos shared on platforms, e.g. Facebook, when providing audiovisual content is an essential functionality of the service.
  • Stronger rules against hate speech and public provocation to commit terrorist offences that prohibit incitement to violence or hatred and provocation to commit terrorist offences in audiovisual media services. The rules will also apply to video-sharing platforms to protect people from incitement to violence or hatred and content constituting criminal offences.
  • Promoting European works in on-demand catalogues with at least 30 per cent share of European content.
  • More flexibility in television advertising. The revised rules give broadcasters more flexibility as to when ads can be shown – the overall limit of 20 per cent of broadcasting time is maintained between 6:00 to 18:00. Instead of the current 12 minutes per hour, broadcasters can choose more freely when to show ads throughout the day.
  • Independence of audiovisual regulators will be reinforced in EU law by ensuring that they are legally distinct and functionally independent from the government and any other public or private body.

On the protection of minors against harmful content online, the European Commission has been also supporting the Alliance to better protect minors online. Launched on Safer Internet Day 2017, the Alliance is a self-regulatory initiative to address harmful content, conduct and contact online. Brokered by the European Commission in line with its Better Internet for Kids (BIK) strategy, it sees tech and telecoms companies, broadcasters, NGOs and UNICEF working together to create a safe digital environment.

On the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, we've monitored the AVMSD (and the Alliance) developments in the past years. Find previously-shared information in the following articles:

More information on the AVMSD can be found in the full European Commission press release.

For more information on the procedural file for the AVMSD, see the European Parliament Legislative Observatory.

Related news

The way forward for a better audiovisual media content rating

In the current context of audiovisual media services crossing TV borders to the digital atmosphere, the European Parliament proved to be one of the best-placed stakeholders to hold constructive discussions on the EU legislative actions. On 10 October 2017, iCmedia held an informative event on "The way forward for a better audiovisual media content rating" at the European Parliament in Brussels, bringing together a number of key stakeholders currently working on Audiovisual Media Services dossiers at European or international level.

Protecting children from harmful online content

The fact that 60 per cent of 9-15 year olds go online nearly every day and access on-demand video services may not be surprising for EU policy makers. However, the fact that during the time spent on these services children are increasingly exposed to harmful content should be an immediate call to action for all.

Alliance to better protect minors online

  • News
  • 28/09/2016
  • BIK team

Following action lines concerning the protection of children online as identified in the proposal reviewing the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) from May 2016, Commissioner Günther Oettinger announced, in a recent blog post, that the first meeting of the Alliance to better protect minors online took place on 27 September 2016.

Protecting children online in the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive proposal

In the view of fast-paced developments in the audiovisual environment where children, parents and carers have to multitask and adapt in the engaging Internet of Things (IoT) age, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) from 2010 has been reviewed by the European Commission in recent months, seeking more appropriate and up-to-date legislation.

Media literacy in audiovisual media services

  • News
  • 14/03/2016
  • BIK team

In a converging media world where children and young people have increasing access to digital devices – from videos on demand to connected TVs – media literacy has grown to be an intrinsic requirement for all audiovisual media users.