As a current Member State of the European Union, the UK
regulates audiovisual media services in line with the requirements
of the AVMS Directive. The principle behind the AVMS Directive is
that each Member State must impose certain minimum requirements on
audiovisual media services regulated by that Member State. The quid
pro quo is that a service regulated in any Member State may then be
transmitted for reception in other Member States without further
regulation (commonly referred to as the "country of origin
The UK is currently a significant hub for audiovisual services,
being the home to a wide variety of audiovisual media services
intended for reception both within the UK and elsewhere.
If the UK were to cease to be party to AVMS Directive, there are
some benefits in that the UK would no longer have to be bound by
the minimum requirements laid out in the AVMS Directive (but,
having said that, current UK regulation currently leans towards
being more, rather than less, restrictive than those minimum
requirements). However, services transmitted from the UK would
cease to have the benefit of being licensed in a qualifying
"country of origin" which may affect the attractiveness
of the UK as a broadcasting hub. The general mood in the media
sector (and one which we share) is that loss of "country of
origin" status would far outweigh any benefits to be gained
from the freedom to regulate on a lighter touch basis.
Another limb of the AVMS Directive requires European
broadcasters to reserve a majority of their airtime for European
works and European on-demand services to actively promote European
works. In practical business terms this means that works that
qualify as European can command a premium in economic terms. If the
UK were to leave the European Union, would UK-originated works
continue to be European? The answer is "yes" provided the
UK continues to be a signatory of the European Convention on
Transfrontier Television (and provided the AVMS Directive remains
as currently drafted) because the definition of a "European
work" in the AVMS Directive includes works originating both
from Member States and (subject to some conditions) those
originating from non-Member States which are parties to the
European Convention on Transfrontier Television.
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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