Basic definitions in the Directive:
Audiovisual media service (AMS): defined as either television broadcasting (linear) or on-demand audiovisual media (non-linear).
Television broadcasting: defined as AMS provided by a media service provider (MSP) for simultaneous viewing of programmes on the basis of a programme schedule (this includes quasi-simultaneous viewing where there is a technical time lag between transmission and reception of broadcast). Examples of such services include analog and digital television, live streaming, webcasting, and near VOD (pay-per-view).
On-demand audiovisual media: defined as AMS provided by an MSP to be shown at a time chosen by the user, at the user’s request and on the basis of a catalog of programmes selected by MSP. Examples include VOD.
Media service provider: excludes entities that merely transmit programmes for which editorial responsibility lies with third parties.
Summary of the Directive:
- To create a level playing field and avoid distortions of competition, the EU Directive applies a basic tier of rules to all audiovisual services (both linear and non-linear services).
- These rules impose requirements relating to the protection of minors; encouraging cultural diversity; preventing incitement to hatred; prohibiting surreptitious advertising; product placement and overt advertising; promotion of European productions; and basic consumer protection.
- Television broadcasters are subject to certain additional requirements beyond the basic tier, such as additional restrictions related to advertising.
- All audiovisual media services, however, will benefit from increased flexibility in the advertising rules (except for strict new rules on product placement).
- The EU Directive justifies the imposition of lighter regulation for on-demand audiovisual services than for television broadcasting because of the choice and control that the user can exercise with on- demand services.
- Retaining exclusive television broadcasting rights to high-interest events is permissible, but rights holders must grant the right to use short extracts, not exceeding 90 seconds, for purposes of general news programmes on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. In addition, each Member State may impose restrictions on exclusivity if it lists the event as being of major importance for society (for examples the Olympics or national football finals).
- Member States may apply stricter or more detailed rules, as long as these regulations do not contradict the AVMS Directive’s general principles.
- The Directive does not cover non-economic audiovisual services and those services that are not in competition with television broadcasting (i.e., private websites, electronic versions of newspapers and magazines, and websites and services that provide and distribute audiovisual content generated by private users for purposes of sharing and exchanging).
- The new regime will not apply directly to providers until Member States pass enacting legislation, which they are required to do by the end of 2009.
Source: Directive 2007/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2007 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, Official Journal of the European Union, 18 December 2007, L. 332/27