EU Commission opens infringement procedures against 23 Member States for failing to transpose the Directive on audiovisual content

Source: EU Commission

23 November 2020


Today, the European Commission launched infringement procedures against 23 Member States and the United Kingdom for failing to enact the new rules governing EU-wide coordination of all audiovisual media, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services, and video-sharing platforms. These new EU rules aim to create a regulatory framework fit for the digital age, leading to a safer, fairer and more diverse audiovisual landscape. They reinforce the protection of viewers, with particular regard to the safety of those most vulnerable, such as minors, and the extension of rules regarding hate speech to video-sharing platforms, and foster cultural diversity in audiovisual media, at the same time as introducing for the first time new independence requirements for national media regulators and safeguarding media pluralism.

The deadline for transposing the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into national legislation was 19 September 2020 and only Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden have notified transposition measures and declared their notification complete.

Therefore, the Commission sent the letters of formal notice to Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, and the United Kingdom, requesting them to provide further information. They now have two months to reply.

Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: “We want a level playing field for all media players and to better protect children and consumers when accessing audiovisual content. We also want to ensure more diversity on video-on-demand platforms and create a fairer audiovisual landscape. This is why we have common rules. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive merits all our collective effort. It is an important achievement, which will foster cultural diversity in audiovisual media services.”

Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said: “It is high time that all Member States transpose the rules and do it well. The revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive is a key piece of legislation for media pluralism. It strengthens the independence of media regulators, encourages the transparency of media ownership and promotes media literacy.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Two years ago, we collectively - including the Member States - agreed to upgrade EU rules on audio-visual content. These rules better protect all viewers - in particular the most vulnerable such as minors - foster cultural diversity and safeguard media pluralism. However, they won't bring any of these benefits if they remain on paper. I call on Member States to enact these rules without further delays to ensure a safer, fairer and more diverse environment online.”

The EU's current Audiovisual Media Services Directive governs EU-wide coordination of national legislation on audiovisual media services, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services, and video-sharing platforms. However, the media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. Millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices. Taking these new developments into account, the Commission proposed a revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive in May 2016 that included a new approach to online platforms disseminating audiovisual content. The European Parliament and the Council reached in June 2018 a political agreement on the revised rules, which were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in November 2018.

The main goal of the Directive is to create and ensure the proper functioning of a single European market for audiovisual media services, while contributing to the promotion of cultural diversity, providing an adequate level of consumer protection and safeguarding media pluralism.

Member States had 21 months to transpose it into national legislations. To make sure the new rules are enacted timely, over the past years, the Commission has supported Member State authorities, including through the Contact Committee and the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) on the transposition of the AVMSD. The Commission also published guidelines on European works and video-sharing platforms.

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