Category Archives: Audiovisual and Media

Audiovisual media (radio broadcasting, television and cinema) represent more than a million jobs in the European Union and constitute the primary source of information and entertainment for Europeans. The Community’s objectives in terms of audiovisual matters are European cultural diversity, the protection of minors, the promotion of media diversity, as well as increased European film production.
In this context, the Union encourages cooperation between Member Sates and supports their action on the basis of Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (EU). The “Audiovisual Media Services” (AMS) Directive and the Media Programme are the two cornerstones of Community audiovisual policy.

Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive

Document or Iniciative

Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (Text with EEA relevance).

Summary

This Directive establishes legal, regulatory and administrative provisions related to the provision and distribution of audiovisual media services.

Which media service providers * does the Directive apply to?

This Directive applies to media service providers when:

  • the head office of the provider and the editorial decisions taken about the audiovisual media services are located in the same Member State;
  • the head office and audiovisual media services are located in different Member States;
  • the service provider has its head office in a Member State, whereas decisions on the audiovisual media services are taken in a third country;
  • the service provider uses a satellite up-link situated in a Member State;
  • the service provider uses satellite capacity appertaining to a Member State.

To what extent does freedom of retransmission apply?

Member States shall not restrict retransmissions on their territory of audiovisual media services from other Member States, as long as the programmes broadcast are not of a violent or pornographic nature which could offend the sensibilities of minors.

They may also limit retransmissions if they believe public policy, health and security or consumer protection to be at risk.

What are the obligations of media service providers?

Media service providers shall make the following information available to consumers:

  • their name;
  • their geographical address;
  • their contact details;
  • the competent regulatory or supervisory bodies.

Protection of minors

In order to protect minors against the negative effects of pornographic or violent programmes, such programmes, when broadcast, must be preceded by an acoustic warning or identified by the presence of a visual symbol throughout the broadcast.

Incitement to hatred

Audiovisual media services may not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality.

Accessibility of audiovisual media services

Providers are obliged to improve the accessibility of their services for people with a visual or hearing disability.

The right to information

Member States may take measures aimed at ensuring that certain events, which it considers are of major importance for society, cannot be broadcast exclusively in such a way as to deprive a substantial proportion of the public in that Member State. Each Member State may draw up a list of events and implementation procedures.

For the purpose of short news reports, any broadcaster established in a Member State has the right to access short extracts of events of high interest to the public which are broadcast on an exclusive basis.

Promotion of European and independent works

Broadcasters must devote at least 10% of their transmission time, or 10% of their programming budget, to European works created by producers who are independent of broadcasters, excluding time allocated to:

  • news;
  • sports events;
  • games;
  • advertising;
  • teletext services;
  • teleshopping.

With regard to on-demand audiovisual media services, Member States shall ensure that audiovisual media service providers promote the production of and access to European works. To this end, audiovisual service providers can contribute financially to the production of European works, or they can reserve a share and/or prominence for European works in their catalogue of programmes.

Audiovisual commercial communication

Media service providers provide audiovisual commercial communications *. These must comply with certain conditions:

  • they must be readily recognisable. Surreptitious audiovisual commercial communication shall be prohibited;
  • they shall not use subliminal techniques;
  • they shall not prejudice respect for human dignity;
  • they shall not be discriminatory;
  • they shall not encourage behaviour harmful to the environment;
  • they shall not contain messages relating to alcoholic beverages specifically aimed at minors;
  • they shall not promote tobacco products;
  • they shall restrict the promotion of medicinal products and medical treatments to those available on prescription only;
  • they shall not cause moral or physical detriment to minors.

Certain programmes or audiovisual media services may be sponsored *. In this case, they must meet other types of requirements:

  • they shall not affect the editorial independence of the media service provider;
  • they shall not directly encourage the purchase or rental of goods;
  • viewers shall be informed of the sponsorship agreement.

Product placement is authorised in certain circumstances and in certain types of programmes.

Television advertising and teleshopping

Television advertising and teleshopping shall be distinguishable from editorial content through optical, acoustic or spatial means.

The transmission of films made for television (excluding series, serials and documentaries), cinematographic works and news programmes may be interrupted by television advertising or teleshopping on the condition that the interruption only takes place once for each programme period of 30 minutes.

This Directive repeals Directive 89/552/EC.

Key terms of the Act
  • Media service provider: the natural or legal person who has editorial responsibility for the choice of the audiovisual content of the audiovisual media service and determines the manner in which it is organised;
  • Audiovisual commercial communication: images with or without sound which are designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of a natural or legal entity pursuing an economic activity;
  • Sponsorship: any contribution made by public or private undertakings or natural persons not engaged in providing audiovisual media services or in the production of audiovisual works, to the financing of audiovisual media services or programmes with a view to promoting their name, trade mark, image, activities or products;
  • Product placement: the inclusion of a product, a service or a trade mark in a programme in return for payment or for similar consideration.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2010/13/EU

5.5.2010

OJ L 95 of 15.4.2010

European cinema: opportunities and challenges in the digital era

European cinema: opportunities and challenges in the digital era

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European cinema: opportunities and challenges in the digital era

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

European cinema: opportunities and challenges in the digital era

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 24 September 2010 on opportunities and challenges for European cinema in the digital era [COM(2010) 487 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication sets out the strategy developed by the European Commission to help European cinema owners in the transition to digital cinema.

Obstacles to developing digital cinema

The European cinema market is very mixed. It includes different language zones and many different operators. This diversity can make it more difficult for global deals or national roll-outs to be implemented.

Another obstacle lies in the limited levels of activity in many European cinemas. 31% of European screens are in single-screen cinemas while only 10% of European cinemas are multiplexes. In view of the higher costs of digital equipment, this situation makes the digitisation process harder.

Investment in digital equipment has to be borne by exhibitors, but savings will be made by distributors thanks to the lower cost of digital copies. Investment in very expensive digital equipment may prove to be economically unviable for a number of cinemas, particularly independent or arthouse cinemas.

Finally, a consequence of digitisation will be staff redundancy for projectionists and laboratory technicians. In order to limit the social consequences of the cinema digitisation process, the transition period needs to be carefully managed and significant funding should be allocated for training professionals.

Standardisation and equipment needed for digital transition

The International Organization for Standardisation (IOS) is considering standardising the equipment needed for digital transition based on the model developed by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI). This model is based on (among others) “2k” resolution (a resolution of 2048×1080) or “4k” (a resolution of 4096×2160 for screens over 15 metres), and the introduction of the JPEG 2000 format using digital technologies such as HDTV Broadcast, Blu-Ray and video-on-demand. However, 2k equipment is very expensive and European cinemas will not reap short-term benefits from it, except perhaps those that screen 3D films.

Over 80% of European screens are less than 10 metres wide. For this type of screen, it is possible to use projectors with a lower resolution as the quality is more than sufficient and they are less expensive than 2k equipment. However, studios would need to agree to this type of technology being used to screen their films.

The EU shall seize the opportunities offered by the standardisation process in order to obtain the flexibility needed to enable all viable cinemas in Europe to use digital projection.

Possible financing models

Distributors can sign agreements with “integrators” who finance the acquisition of digital cinema equipment on behalf of exhibitors. These intermediaries then collect the distributors’ contribution to repay part of the investment made. However, this VPF (Virtual Print Fee) model may prove to be unsuitable for smaller and arthouse cinemas, and may have an impact on the programming freedom of exhibitors.

Member States or regions may also co-finance cinema digitisation projects using the EU’s Structural Funds through projects linked with urban regeneration, rural diversification, cultural tourism or the information society and human capital, in particular.

Furthermore, arthouse or smaller cinemas could group together and “mutualise” their costs in order to access private investment or European funds, subject to compliance with European competition rules. In addition, they may benefit from State aid for culture and heritage conservation.

Possible intervention at EU level

EU intervention accompanying digital transition will be carried out in accordance with:

  • Article 167 of the TFEU;
  • the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions;

and will take account of the funds available from:

  • the MEDIA Programme;
  • the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The MEDIA Programme is a useful tool in that it:

  • provides a training scheme for professionals;
  • sets digital technology objectives in the field of distribution and dissemination;
  • offers the possibility to create a new action specifically aimed at the digital transition of European cinemas.

Action envisaged by the European Commission between now and 2012 to accompany the transition to digital cinema projection for European cinemas includes:

  • a report on the adoption of digital cinema projection standards;
  • a study on the costs of digital equipment;
  • a Recommendation on promoting digitisation of European cinema;
  • a Communication on appropriate criteria for assessing State aid for digital projection.

State aid for public service broadcasting

State aid for public service broadcasting

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about State aid for public service broadcasting

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

State aid for public service broadcasting

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission on the application of State aid rules to public service broadcasting [Official Journal C 257 of 27.10.2009].

Summary

Since the 2001 Communication from the Commission on the application of state aid rules to public broadcasting, technological changes have significantly changed the broadcasting and audiovisual markets, including an increase in competition with new players entering the market as well as the availability of new media services. In order to compete, both public and private broadcasters have had to diversify their activities, moving to new distribution platforms and expanding the range of their services. This diversification of the publicly funded activities of public service broadcasters has resulted in a number of complaints by other market players. There have also been significant legal developments since the 2001 Communication, with the introduction of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive which extends the scope of the European Union (EU) audiovisual regulation to emerging media services. Due to these technological, market and legal developments, an update to the 2001 Communication on state aid for public broadcasting is necessary.

The assessment of state aid in the EU is based on Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (ex-Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC)). In accordance with Article 107 TFEU, state aid includes the following conditions:

  • aid must be granted by an EU country, or by means of state resources;
  • it must distort or threaten to distort competition by favouring the beneficiary;
  • it must be liable to affect trade between EU countries.

Article 106(2) TFEU (ex-Article 86(2) TEC) provides a derogation from the ban on state aid for undertakings operating a service of general economic interest. To benefit from this exemption, the following conditions apply:

  • the service in question is clearly defined as a service of general economic interest by the EU county concerned;
  • the undertaking in question must be explicitly entrusted by the EU country with the provision of that service;
  • the ban on state aid must obstruct the performance of the particular tasks assigned to the undertaking and the exemption from the ban must not affect the development of trade to an extent that would be contrary to EU interests.

For public broadcasting the above must be adapted in accordance with the Amsterdam Protocol which:

  • states that the public service remit is conferred, defined and organised by each EU country;
  • provides for a derogation for funding granted to broadcasting organisations for the fulfilment of the public service remit so long as it does not affect trading conditions and competition in the EU to an extent that would be contrary to EU interests.

The state aid assessment by the Commission requires transparency. This consists of a precise definition of the public service remit. The undertaking carrying out this service must be clearly entrusted with that task. The public service compensation should not exceed the net costs of the public service. EU countries should ensure regular supervision of the use of public funding and the carrying out of the public service mandate.

In relation to the diversification of public broadcasting services, the Commission considers that public service broadcasters should be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitisation and internet-based services to benefit society by offering services on all platforms, provided that it does not distort competition or disproportionately affect the market. However, EU countries must consider whether significant new audiovisual services envisaged by public service broadcasters fulfil the conditions of the Amsterdam Protocol in serving the democratic, social and cultural needs of the society, without having disproportionate effects on trading conditions and competition. EU countries must determine what qualifies as a significant new service.

The rapid evolution of the broadcasting markets means that broadcasters are turning to new sources of financing, such as online advertising or the provision of services for payment. Whilst traditionally public broadcasting services are free-to-air, the Commission considers that a direct remuneration in such services does not necessarily mean that the services are not part of the public service remit. The communication states that as long as the pay element does not compromise the benefit to society which distinguishes public services from purely commercial activities.

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Online access to Europe’s cultural heritage

Europeana, the European digital library, which will provide the public with a single access point to Europe’s cultural heritage. The main issues addressed concern digitisation, online accessibility and digital preservation of cultural material.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 11 August 2008 – Europe’s cultural heritage at the click of a mouse: Progress on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation across the EU [COM(2008) 513 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication sets out the progress achieved thus far and the steps that still need to be taken in order to develop Europeana, the European digital library. Particular emphasis is on the actions carried out by Member States to implement the Commission Recommendation 2006/585/EC of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation, which was endorsed in the Council Conclusions of 20 November 2008.

Europeana will be a common multilingual point of access to digitised European material. In 2007, its development received new impetus, especially through the creation of the European Digital Library Foundation that brings together different cultural sectors. The demo site of Europeana was published in February 2008 with the aim that the prototype will be launched in November of the same year. This prototype is to be developed into a fully operational service within the following two years.

The issues yet to be addressed in the development of Europeana include the:

  • incorporation of in-copyright material;
  • provision of multilingual search and retrieval functions;
  • integration of collaborative tools;
  • promotion of Europeana to the wider public.

On the basis of the above-mentioned Recommendation, Member States have progressed on the following:

  • digitisation – Most Member States have established overviews of digitisation activities, as well as strategies and plans for digitisation. However, the overviews are not used in any systematic manner and the strategies and plans do not provide quantitative targets. Further efforts are needed in these areas, as well as in financial planning. While some of the Member States have provided substantial amounts of resources to digitisation, additional funding is needed. This could be achieved through public-private partnerships or through private sponsoring. It is also essential that the output of digitisation continues to rise. To this end, many Member States have established digitisation centres;
  • online accessibility – Many of the Member States have either established or are establishing national portals, which may act as aggregators for Europeana. Most are also working on the standards that are essential for interoperability in Europe. In order to make the availability of in-copyright material possible, some Member States have begun to involve private content holders in their work. With regard to orphan works though, progress seems to be limited. In this regard, some Member States expressed their wish for a European level solution. Similarly, little progress has been made in connection with clearing rights for digitising and making available online works that are out of print or distribution, or to barriers to the use of public domain works. More attention should be given in particular to the latter issue, as it is imperative to continue providing access to such works;
  • digital preservation – Most Member States have begun to formulate digital preservation strategies and some have already established specific preservation plans; yet, the follow-up and financial backing to these remain limited. Multiple copying for preservation purposes is already allowed in most of the Member States, and even the remaining Member States are contemplating the necessary legislative actions. Similarly, the legal deposit legislation is already updated in most Member States, but the differences in materials covered and the deposit criteria are substantial. Many of the Member States have also implemented legislation relating to web harvesting by specified institutions (usually the national library). Otherwise, access to web-harvested material remains restricted due to intellectual property and privacy rights.

Even though Member States have progressed considerably in making cultural information available online, further action needs to be taken in particular with regard to:

  • funding of and quantitative targets for digitisation;
  • support for Europeana;
  • legislative actions and other measures to enable the digitisation and accessibility of orphan works and works that are out of print or distribution;
  • financial and organisational measures relating to digital preservation.

The High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries, set up in 2006, has given practical assistance to Member States in implementing the above Recommendation. The Group’s work focuses in particular on public-private partnerships, scientific information and copyright issues.

In order to develop the services provided by Europeana, advancements in technical issues are needed, especially to achieve cheaper and better quality digitisation and preservation techniques. The Commission has supported this progress through the Framework Programmes for Research and Development and the eContentplus programme. It has asserted its commitment to continue providing support through policy initiatives and funding programmes for the development of Europeana and other projects that improve the accessibility and preservation of digital cultural material.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – “Europeana: next steps” [COM(2009) 440 final – Not published in the Official Journal.
This Communication sets out the challenges to come concerning the implementation of Europeana.
Europeana’s results are positive, in that it gives access to more than 4.6 million digitised books, newspapers, film clips, maps, photographs and documents and receives contributions from more than 1,000 cultural institutions.
However, the Communication notes several problems connected with:

  • an imbalance between Member States in terms of the provision of cultural material. France has contributed 47% of the digitised objects, while other Member States such as Poland and Hungary have contributed mainly books;
  • copyright, in that recent works enjoy protection which limits access to them, unlike works from before 1900. It is important to establish collaboration with rightholders in order to improve access to protected works. Another challenge lies in the legal consequences of digitisation;
  • the financing and governance of Europeana.

Further efforts are therefore necessary in order to ensure that citizens can enjoy the services of Europeana fully.

Council conclusions of 20 November 2008 on the European digital library Europeana [Official Journal C 319 of 13.12.2008].
In its conclusions the Council of the European Union expressed satisfaction with the gradual establishment of the Europeana European library and the commitment of Member States to this project. In order for the project to be a success, the Council invites Member States to:

  • continue their strategy of implementation of their national objectives;
  • promote synergies between them in the process of digitisation and increasing online accessibility of cultural material;
  • incorporate digital cultural material in Europeana;
  • facilitate digitisation and online access to orphan works.

The European Commission is invited to encourage the development of Europeana and to promote it in Europe and the world, as well as to encourage the establishment of public-private partnerships to develop it.

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Media Mundus audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries 2011-2013

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 1041/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing an audiovisual cooperation programme with professionals from third countries (MEDIA Mundus).

Summary

This Decision aims at establishing the programme MEDIA Mundus for the funding of projects for international cooperation with professionals from third countries in the audiovisual sector during the period 2011-2013.

Scope

The programme is intended for professionals worldwide. However, the project coordinator must be resident in one of the following countries:

  • Member States;
  • EFTA States that are members of the EEA;
  • countries which declare a willingness to be members of the programme and pay a contribution calculated on the same basis as their contribution to the MEDIA 2007 programme.

What are the conditions for participation in the programme?

Projects proposed must fulfil the following conditions:

  • be carried out jointly by European and third-country professionals;
  • have a minimum of three partners with a view to creating an international network;
  • be coordinated by a European professional and include at least one partner from a third country.

What are the objectives of the programme?

The programme aims to increase the diversity and competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry and to promote Europe’s role in culture.

Information exchange, training and market intelligence

Under the programme, European and third-country professionals meet in order to enhance their understanding of their respective audiovisual markets, particularly in terms of operating conditions, legal frameworks, financing systems and possibilities for cooperation.

It involves establishing professional training on:

  • the conditions of production, co-production, distribution and the exhibition and dissemination of audiovisual works internationally;
  • the inclusion of new technologies throughout the value chain (production, post-production, distribution, marketing and archiving).

Competitiveness and distribution

The introduction of the programme should facilitate the search for foreign partners for European audiovisual works, whilst supporting the organisation of co-production markets.

Moreover, the programme should promote international sales of audiovisual works.

Distribution

At this level, the programme should:

  • improve the programming and exhibition conditions of audiovisual works in European and third-country cinemas;
  • improve broadcasting and distribution conditions for third countries’ audiovisual works on European distribution channels and European works on international distribution channels;
  • facilitate the organisation of events and initiatives, in particular aimed at young audiences.

What is the programme budget?

The financial allocation for implementing the programme throughout the 2011-2013 period is EUR 15 million (of which 13.5 million is dedicated to supporting projects).

Context

Prompted by the effects of the digital revolution on the conditions of production and dissemination of works, the audiovisual sector has changed significantly over the last 20 years, in particular from a technical standpoint. Furthermore, its international role is increasing with regard to the protection of cultural diversity. In this context, the public consultation on MEDIA Mundus demonstrated a willingness among European professionals and their third-country counterparts to cooperate so as to better promote the circulation of audiovisual works and film literacy.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision No 1041/2009/EC

24.11.2009

OJ L 288 of 4.11.2009

Related Acts

Council Decision 2010/478/EU of 26 July 2010 concerning the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation in the audiovisual field, establishing the terms and conditions for the participation of the Swiss Confederation in the Community programme MEDIA 2007, and a Final Act [OJ L 234, 4.9.2010].

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services (2006 recommendation)

Document or Iniciative

Recommendation 2006/952/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the protection of minors and human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and on-line information services industry [Official Journal L 378 of 27.12.2006].

Summary

The emergence of new information and communication technology demands constant vigilance when it comes to protecting the rights of the individual. It must be ensured that the content of audiovisual and information services stays within the law, respects the principle of human dignity and does not impair the development of minors.

To create a “European media area” that respects freedom of expression and, at the same time, the rights of the consumer, action will be required at all levels: European level, by Member States, and by the industry and other parties concerned.

ACTION AT MEMBER STATE LEVEL

The recommendation calls on Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that minors and human dignity are better protected across all audiovisual and on-line information services.

Right of reply across all media

Member States are invited to consider introducing measures regarding the right of reply or equivalent remedies in relation to on-line media.

Promoting responsible use by minors

The recommendation invites Member States to take measures to enable minors to make responsible use of audiovisual and on-line information services. This could involve improving the level of awareness among parents, teachers and trainers of the potential of the new services and of the means whereby they may be made safe for minors.

Promoting a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users

Member States are invited to promote a responsible attitude on the part of professionals, intermediaries and users by:

  • encouraging the audiovisual and on-line information services industry to avoid all discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and to combat any such discrimination;
  • encouraging vigilance and the reporting of pages considered illegal;
  • drawing up a code of conduct in cooperation with professionals and regulatory authorities at national and Community level.

Combating illegal activity

A key role is ascribed to measures to combat illegal activity that is likely to be harmful to minors on the Internet. The recommendation proposes that the following measures be taken:

  • awarding a quality label to service providers so that users can easily check whether or not a given provider subscribes to a code of conduct;
  • establishing appropriate means for the reporting of illegal and/or suspicious activities on the Internet.

ACTION AT INDUSTRY LEVEL

Apart from the Member States, the audiovisual and on-line information services industry and other parties concerned are also urged to take action to ensure respect for human dignity and the protection of minors in the services they offer.

Positive measures for the benefit of minors

The recommendation suggests that a number of initiatives be adopted, including greater cooperation between the regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory bodies of the Member States. It also encourages the exchange of best practices concerning such issues as a system of common descriptive symbols or warning messages which would help users to assess the content of the services.

Technical measures

The industry is urged to examine the possibility of creating filters which would prevent information offending against human dignity from passing through the Internet. It is also encouraged to develop measures to increase the use of content labelling systems for material distributed over the Internet.

Combating discrimination

The recommendation invites the industry to find effective means of fighting any incitement to discrimination in audiovisual and on-line information services. In addition, it should promote a diversified and realistic picture of the skills and potential of men and women in society.

COMMISSION INITIATIVES

Apart from its activity in the context of the 2005-2008 Community programme for a safer Internet, the Commission intends to take a number of initiatives to promote the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and on-line information services. These involve, in particular:

  • introducing a European freephone number to provide Internet users with information on issues relating to the protection of minors and human dignity;
  • possible support for the establishment of a generic second-level domain name reserved for monitored sites committed to respecting minors and their rights;
  • support for the formation of networks by self-regulatory bodies and the exchanging of experience among them, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of codes of conduct and approaches based on self-regulation.

Related Acts

Council Recommendation 98/560/EC of 24 September 1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity [Official Journal L 270 of 7 October 1998].

This 1998 recommendation is the first legal instrument at Community level governing the content of audiovisual and information services and the protection of minors and human dignity.

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services: Green Paper

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services: Green Paper

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services: Green Paper

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services: Green Paper

The Green Paper’s objective is to add depth to the debate on the conditions governing the emergence of a coherent protection framework for minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services in the European Union (EU).

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services [COM (96) 483 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The battle against the circulation of material affecting human dignity and the protection of minors is essential for enabling new audiovisual and information services to develop in a climate of confidence. If effective means of protecting the public interest in these areas are not quickly identified and implemented, there is a risk that these new services will not achieve their full economic, social and cultural potential.

Chapter I of the Green Paper identifies those aspects of the development of new audiovisual and information services relevant to the protection of minors and human dignity and analyses the types of material which could give rise to problems. It points out that it is important not to confuse different issues. For example, child pornography, which is illegal and subject to criminal sanctions, is not in the same category as adult pornography, to which children may have access but which, while harmful to their development, is not illegal for adults.

Solutions must also be adapted in the light of developments in the service environment. New television services such as pay-per-view offer increased personal choice. They are moving away from the standard model of the mass media, where the viewer has a choice between watching the programme or not, and towards an editorial model, where the viewer selects from a wide choice of programmes.
On-line services are taking this trend further, towards an individual communication model. In geographical terms, distribution networks are becoming less national and increasingly global in nature, with the Internet being a world-wide network of networks.
Furthermore, new types of material are appearing. A traditional television programme, watched from beginning to end, is linear in nature, while interactivity enables the exploration of different scenarios. Hybrid formsof material are beginning to appear, bringing together, for example, games, advertising or information in an original way.

The development of new services requires a flexible environment, particularly in terms of regulation. A functional analysis of the characteristics of each new type of service is required in order to identify new solutions. Any new risk inherent in the nature of the new services must be assessed carefully; the fears aroused by new audiovisual and information services justify the attention both of the authorities and of citizens. However, the problem must not be exaggerated; frequently, the difficulty lies more in the characteristics of new services in relation to the traditional media than in their content.

Chapter II contains an analysis of the legal and constitutional provisions in force at European and national level. It points out that all national provisions in Europe fall within the framework of basic rights as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, integrated as general principles of Community law by Article F(2) of the Treaty on European Union. In particular, Article 10 of the Convention guarantees the right of free expression. It also states that the exercising of this right may be subject to certain restrictions for specific reasons, in particular the protection of health or morals and the prevention of crime. As a result, freedom of expression is not absolute anywhere in the European Union, but is subject to restrictions. The case law of the European Court of Human Rights has developed the principle of proportionality, i.e. the acid test of conformity between any restrictive measure and the basic principles as set out in the Convention. Europe therefore has a joint approach – the principle of free expression and the test of proportionality. Beyond this common basis, the current systems in the Member States vary considerably, reflecting differences in cultural and moral standards.

In general, the new services may create new problems, specifically with regard to the application of legal provisions. For example, it is increasingly difficult to determine responsibilities where a number of different operators are involved in the communications chain (network supplier, access provider, service provider, material provider). These difficulties are all the greater when the various elements in the chain are in different countries.

Chapter II then examines problems relating to the protection of minors against material which is harmful but not necessarily illegal, such as erotic material for adults. In some Member States, the principle of protection of minors is integrated into general provisions, whatever the medium in question, forbidding the provision to minors of material likely to be harmful to their development (but which is legally accessible to adults). Other Member States have provisions specific to each medium. In all cases, the implementation of measures to protect minors requires the identification of measures to ensure that they will not have access to harmful material, while authorising access to adults. Recent technological developments may provide new solutions through increased parental control, both in television (the “anti-violence” or “V” chip) and in on-line environments (PICS). In either case, labelling of material is a key element of the system. The new technological possibilities are more limited in television than in the on-line environment, but in both cases they have the advantage of offering bottom-up rather than top-down solutions, which make any prior censorship superfluous and strengthen the potential effectiveness of self-regulation.

Chapter III presents an analysis of the situation at European Union level, with regard both to Community law and to cooperation in the fields of justice and internal affairs. Freedom to provide services is one of the four basic freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty. Restrictions are possible for overriding reasons of public interest, such as the protection of minors and human dignity, but are subject in particular to the test of proportionality.

In the fight against illegal material, it is recognised that cooperation between Member States in the fields of justice and internal affairs has a fundamental role to play, given the international nature of the new services. Through such cooperation, the Member States can more effectively act against illegal use and material. In addition, internal coherence will make them better able to work towards solutions on a global scale.

Chapter III reviews various possibilities for strengthening cooperation between national administrations and the Commission, both at Community level and in the context of justice and internal affairs (systematic exchange of information, comparative analysis of national legislation, definition of a common framework for self-regulation, recommendations for cooperation in the areas of justice and internal affairs, common guidelines for international cooperation). It also assesses the possibilities of encouraging cooperation between the industries concerned (codes of conduct, common standards for labelling systems, promotion of the PICS standard). Possible measures for raising the awareness of and informing users are also discussed.

The attention and urgency regarding the protection of minors and human dignity are mainly focused on decentralised services, particularly the Internet. Where these are concerned, it seems clear that, within the limits inherent in purely national solutions and given the difficulty of formulating and implementing global solutions, the E U has a fundamental role to play. But the potential for the transnational development of centralised services also justifies the search for common and/or compatible solutions in the European Union for services of this type.

Related Acts

FOLLOW-UP WORK IN THE FIELD OF THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of minors and human dignity and the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry [COM(2004) 341 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This proposal for a Recommendation is another step towards effective cooperation between the Member States, industry and the other players concerned on the protection of minors and human dignity in the broadcasting and internet services sector.

Council Recommendation 98/560/EC of 24 September 1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity [Official Journal L 270 of 7.10.1998].

IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

Communication from the Commission of 18 November 1997 on the follow-up to the Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services, together with a proposal for a Council Recommendation concerning the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services. [Communication COM(97) 570 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Legal framework for mobile TV

Legal framework for mobile TV

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Legal framework for mobile TV

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Legal framework for mobile TV

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 December 2008 – Legal Framework for Mobile TV Networks and Services: Best Practice for Authorisation – The EU Model [COM(2008) 845 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This communication follows on from that of 2007 on the strengthening of the internal market for mobile TV, which highlighted the importance of the regulatory environment in the take-up of such services. It provides examples of best practice on national regulatory approaches to mobile TV networks and services.

Since launching its mobile TV initiative, the Commission has published overviews of the existing regulatory landscape in Europe with regular updates. This fact-finding exercise showed that Member States have taken very differing approaches to mobile TV. Consequently, the Telecommunications Council of November 2007 requested that the Commission take a more active role and proceed with identifying best practice on authorisation regimes for mobile TV and guiding the national adoption thereof.

When the Commission launched its mobile TV initiative in July 2007, only a few Member States had started addressing regulatory issues. To date, some Member States have still not established a regulatory framework for mobile TV networks and services, while others intend to extend the application of the general broadcasting regime to mobile TV broadcasting. In any case, the Commission is stressing the importance of avoiding situations of regulatory uncertainty. Furthermore, due to the wireless nature of mobile TV and hence the possible cross-border characteristic that it may acquire in the future, the authorisation regimes should also consider the internal market dimension. It is essential that the national regulatory approaches be as consistent as possible, without dismissing the local specificities.

Currently, the European mobile TV market is characterised by three main regulatory models that define the licensed operator’s rights as well as obligations:

  • extension of existing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) rules; however, this might not suffice eventually;
  • the “plain wholesale model”, where spectrum is assigned to a single operator may raise concerns under the competition directive, in particular if the assignment is made without an open and fair procedure under non-discriminatory rules;
  • the “integrated approach”, which in the Commission’s opinion seems to best suit the launch of the mobile TV service since it will involve all relevant market players.

The regulatory regime for mobile TV services should be conceived in such a way that any undue impediments or delays are avoided. The role of regulation should be to provide minimum standards, which will guarantee the efficient use of frequencies. The central elements to consider in the regulatory regime are the:

  • general framework, which should be clear, transparent and adaptable to new developments. The authorisation procedures should be efficient and open to all market players so that a level playing field is guaranteed. Similarly, a timely legislative process needs to be ensured. In order to tailor regulation to the needs of the market, Member States should put in place public consultation mechanisms. At the same time, regular reporting by public authorities on market developments is considered best practice, so that appropriate propositions can be made if the existing rules need to be adapted accordingly.
  • authorisation regimes, which should be clear and transparent. To this end, the relationship between e-communications, spectrum and content rules should be clearly defined. Furthermore, the granting of authorisations should be centralised through a “one-stop-shop” to provide for a simplified and coordinated procedure.
  • award procedures that should be public, transparent and well defined, and for which a clear schedule should be put in place ahead of the commercial trials of mobile TV services. The award criteria should insist on quality of service, optimal use of spectrum and collaboration among the market players. The criteria should be applied in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory manner, with due consideration given to competition rules.
  • specific aspects, which should not impose any unnecessary burdens on operators. For example, “must-carry” rules are not appropriate at this stage of mobile TV service development; however, Member States should organise discussions on “must offer” rules. At the same time, network infrastructure sharing and co-location should be encouraged, while the issues concerning interoperability and roaming should also be taken into consideration.

To further guarantee the effectiveness of the regulatory practices relating to mobile TV, the Commission aims to continue promoting the exchange of best practice between national administrators and the relevant market players.

Media literacy in the digital environment

Media literacy in the digital environment

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Media literacy in the digital environment

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Audiovisual and media

Media literacy in the digital environment

Document or Iniciative

Commission Recommendation 2009/625/EC of 20 August 2009 on media literacy in the digital environment for a more competitive audiovisual and content industry and an inclusive knowledge society.

Summary

This Recommendation aims to increase media literacy in the digital environment in order to achieve a more competitive knowledge economy while contributing towards a more inclusive information society.

Definition

Media literacy is defined as the ability to access the media, and to understand and critically evaluate different aspects of the media and media content. Media literacy also includes the ability to communicate in a variety of contexts.

Barriers

There are still many barriers to the development of media literacy at European level. Member States still lack a shared vision in this area. In addition, the lack of visibility of national, regional and local initiatives in this area makes it more difficult to foster European networks. Consequently, for the moment, there is no coordination between stakeholders.

Challenges

Media literacy should enable European citizens to better understand and analyse the media messages and content they encounter and to acquire the skills which will enable them to play their role of citizen fully.

It may also contribute to safeguarding the pluralism and independence of the media. It permits the expression of diverse opinions from different social groups and promotes the development of the values of tolerance and dialogue.

Media literacy also plays an important role in enhancing awareness of the European audiovisual heritage and cultural identities. In fact, it helps to increase knowledge of and interest in recent European cultural works.

Faced with these challenges, the European Commission proposes encouraging research projects on media literacy in the framework of existing programmes.

Recommended action

Member States are invited to develop and implement co-regulatory initiatives leading to the adoption of codes of conduct relating to the European media.

It is important to promote and finance research, studies and projects covering the different aspects and dimensions of media literacy in the digital environment.

Member States are also encouraged to organise debates in conferences and public events with a view to the inclusion of media literacy in the education curriculum and as part of the provision of key competences for lifelong learning.

Member States should also implement national campaigns to raise public awareness of cultural heritage, as well as training to raise awareness of the risks involved in processing personal data through information and communication networks.

Moreover, the Media Industry is invited to suggest tools for improving the level of media literacy, such as:

  • information tools relating to digital content and search engines;
  • awareness-raising campaigns about techniques used for commercial communication purposes (product placement and online advertising);
  • information packs for young people on the processing of personal data;
  • information days on the creative economy and copyright.

Background

The Commission Communication of December 2007 on ‘A European approach to media literacy in the digital environment’ emphasised the importance of media literacy in relation to commercial communication, audiovisual works and digital content. A better level of media literacy would contribute towards the objectives that the European Union set for itself in Lisbon and in the context of the i2010 initiative.