House of Lords produces report against the AVMS directive

By EDRi · February 14, 2007

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A report of the Lords European Union Committee offered new reasons to oppose
the Commission’s draft Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS),
successor of the Television Without Frontiers Directive, that will extend
television regulation to some Internet video services.

The Directive was approved in its first reading by the Parliament in
December 2006 and should be backed now by the Council of Ministers.

The Directive, as it is now drafted, applies only to commercial TV-like
services, but concerns still exist on the vagueness of what this would cover
and the fear that the regulation might be wrongly applied to other content
such as that of blogs.

Lord Freeman, chairman of the Lords European Union Committee stated: “Such
an attempt risks damaging the new media industry, which is a vibrant and
important sector of the UK’s economy.”

The report warned that the Directive might cause production companies
outside of the EU to try and escape the regulation, considering UK would be
one of the main victims of this action.

The Lords committee considers that EU as regulator should not help to
preserve the dominance of the players already established on the market and
does not see the necessity to introduce “quantitative restrictions on
advertising in a market which is now clearly open to competition”.

“We are concerned that the identification of some of media services as
‘television-like’, may lead some to conclude that eventually ‘like services’
should be regulated in a ‘like-manner’, i.e. a perfectly ‘level playing
field’,” said the report. “If these services are to be included at all we
agree that they must be regulated differently, but the wording and
definitions in the latest versions of the text may encourage the idea that
they can and should be regulated in the same way as television. We would
consider such a move now or in the future to be a grave error.”

The EU presidency, presently hold by Germany, expressed its wish to finalise
the Directive by June 2007. The new act should be implemented within 2 years
into the national legislations of the member countries.

Television Without Frontiers – Report with Evidence – House of Lords –
European Union Committee, 3rd Report of Session 2006-07 (23.01.2007)

Lords oppose new media Directive (8.02.2007)

EDRI-gram: New Audiovisual Directive: First Reading in EU Parliament
completed (20.12.2006)

EP Legislative Observatory AVMS Directive file