On 25 May 2016 the European Commission adopted a legislative
proposal amending the AVMSD. Highlights of its provisions are set
out in this article.
As widely anticipated, the AVMSD will be extended to cover
video-sharing platforms (but they will be subject only to a limited
number of the AVMSD requirements, notably those concerning hate
speech and content harmful to minors). The concept of the AVMSD
only applying to "television-like" services has gone.
Country of Origin (COO) Principle
The "country of origin" principle (where a service is
subject to regulation in the EU Member State where it is provided
from) has been retained, but with clarification as to how the COO
is determined: if a service has a head office in one Member State
but editorial decisions are taken in another, the Member State
where the majority of the relevant workforce is based will be the
COO. Member States will have enhanced obligations to keep track of
the services they regulate as COO and keep other Member States
informed. There is a procedure to resolve disputed COO
Under the existing Directive a Member State can derogate from
the COO principle in certain exceptional circumstances: the list of
circumstances will be augmented with the addition of
"prejudice to public health". It will be interesting to
see how widely this is applied.
The concept of hate speech will be brought in line with other
Commission initiatives, adding in particular, age, disability and
The rules on product placement will be relaxed, so that product
placement is generally permissible except in news, current affairs,
consumer affairs and religious programmes and programmes targeted
at children, subject to certain restrictions and requirements.
Promotion of European Works
There will be a general requirement to ensure 20% of works in
on-demand catalogues are European, together with a requirement to
ensure prominence. Member States which are the COO for an on-demand
service, or a target jurisdiction for an on-demand service, will be
able to levy financial contributions from on-demand services to
support European Works. There are exceptions for smaller
Protection of Minors
The rules will be simplified and augmented with obligations to
make content that may be harmful to children clearly identifiable
and accompanied by appropriate measures to restrict access.
Audiovisual service regulators in Member States will be required
to be independent of industry and government.
Having been adopted by the European Commission, the proposal
goes to the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers.
Indications are that the Commission expects the proposal to be
enacted within the next 12 months.
The revisions are not as radical as some expected when the
Digital Single Market Agenda was first promulgated. The
"country of origin" principle is broadly retained and the
refinements are a reasonable response to legitimate concerns raised
by some Member States.
The independence of regulators, whilst not relevant in the UK
(where media regulation is already independent), does represent a
major shift with reference to those Member States who have not,
historically, had media regulation with such a degree of
The relaxation of product placement rules will assist in the
financing of television content.
The provisions supporting European Works could be a relatively
firm intervention which should be of benefit on the European
audio-visual production industry.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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