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.

As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, on 25 May 2016, the Commission proposed an update of these audiovisual rules to create a fairer environment for all players, a new approach to online platforms, promote European films, protect children and better tackle hate speech. This proposal also reflects the result of a complex effort undertaken in the past year by the Commission, starting from a Public consultation on AVMSD in July 2015, up to the ePrivacy Public consultation in April 2016.
The AVMSD proposal reflects the results of ex-post evaluations, stakeholder consultations and impact assessments, among which the Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children's behaviour and the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) and outputs such as the Report on protection of minors in a converged environment (covered also in a previous article on the BIK portal). On this basis, the new proposal points to:
  • A stronger role for audiovisual regulators: ensuring that regulatory authorities are truly independent from governments and industry, as well as setting out in EU legislation the role of ERGA to assess co-regulatory codes of conduct and advise the European Commission.
  • More European creativity: 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 a 20 per cent share of European content in their catalogues.
  • More flexibility for TV broadcasters: broadcasters and on-demand providers will also have greater flexibility to use product placement and sponsorship, while keeping viewers informed.
  • Responsible video-sharing platforms: to make sure the measures are future proof and effective, the Commission will invite all video-sharing platforms to work within an Alliance to better protect minors online, with the aim of creating a code of conduct for industry.
Concerning the responsible video-sharing platforms, Commissioner Oettinger highlighted in his speech at the AVMSD proposal presentation that the Commission will assist the progress of a new Alliance to better protect children online, as part of its efforts to encourage industry to develop codes of conduct to support the implementation of the EU's updated audiovisual rules. The Alliance will build on the work of the CEO coalition to make the internet a better place for kids. The CEO coalition was a self-regulatory initiative, set up in 2011, with focused actions and a mandate limited in time, designed to respond to emerging challenges arising from the diverse ways in which young Europeans go online.
More in-depth information is available in a European Commission press release. The text of the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the AVMSD 2010/13/EU can be found on the European Commission's website.

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