Draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive under criticism

By EDRi · May 24, 2006

The European Commission proposal to regulate commercial audio and video
broadcasts over the Internet and mobile phones, continues to be strongly
opposed by supporters of free speech, but also tranditional and new
media providers.

At the meeting of Education, Youth and Culture Council in Brussels (18-19
May 2006) the proposal for a directive amending the Directive on the pursuit
of television broadcasting activities was discussed. The debate covered, in
particular, the following issues in relation with the proposed directive:
the appropriateness and the sustainability of the distinction between linear
and non-linear services; the common rules applying to both categories of
services; the extent of the modernization and simplification of television advertising and teleshopping rules.

The draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive – a revision of the 1989
Television without Frontiers Directive – introduces the notion of
audiovisual media services and distinguishes between “linear” services (e.g.
scheduled broadcasting via traditional TV, the internet or mobile phones,
which “push” content to viewers) and “non-linear” services (such as
video-on-demand, which the viewer “pulls” from a network). Only a basic tier
of rules would apply to non-linear services. This draft has already met
oppositions and criticism at the beginning of this year being considered as

Traditional media as well as new media and technology providers opposed the directive. They stated, among other things, that it would shortly be obsolete due to the fast development of technology. Also they said it would discourage innovation and create a distinction between linear and non-linear broadcasting, when in reality this distinction is more and more blurred by technological development.

At the press conference on 18 May, Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for
Information Society and Media, had to answer accusations of censorship
related to the Directive. The Commissioner stated that the directive had
“nothing to do with free speech” and aimed at protecting children and that
the new rules were meant to protect “basic societal values”.

Mrs. Reding states that the rules are only intended to apply to commercial
content and that the application of Audiovisual Media Services Directive has
as purpose to prevent certain programmes from being shown to
children. The idea would be to harmonise rules across the whole European
Union so that programme makers don’t face bureaucracy every time they try to sell their products to another member country.

EU regulation attacked as censorship (19.05.2006)

EU Internet proposals to protect society (18.05.2006)

2729th Education, Youth and Culture Council meeting – Brussels, 18-19 May
2006 (provisional version) (18.05.2006)

The Television without Frontiers Directive: another “directive too far”?

Legislative Proposal for an Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Debates on draft directive on Television without Frontiers Directive