Media declaration published in advance of first reading vote on AMS/TVWF,1-14 December
4 December 2006
The European Publishers Council (EPC) is leading Europe’s media industry in calling on MEPs to reject proposed amendments to the draft audiovisual media services directive that would give individual Member States a possible derogation to the country of origin principle laid down by the Commission’s original text. MEPs cast their First Reading vote on AMS in the December Plenary (11-14/12).
The EPC joins nearly 60 signatories from the media and Internet world in presenting a Declaration to MEPs this week.
EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade said: "We call on Members of the European Parliament to ensure that one Member State cannot raise objections to programmes or advertising contained in incoming broadcasts or on-demand services from another Member State on the very broad grounds of "general public interest". Here lies the road to censorship. This derogation gives Member States carte blanche to summon up "general interest" as an excuse to block any content from other countries. Content is based on national culture and allowing Member States to interfere would completely undermine the integrity of the directive."
Country of Origin, argues the media industry, provides the level of legal certainty necessary to encourage companies to exploit opportunities afforded by the internal market.
Angela continued: "If the AMS directive allows for any derogation to the country of origin principle, a media service provider will never know until the day he launches a service which laws he will be subject to. … Without this principle of mutual recognition based on home country control, media service providers will be subject to content control from outside their own jurisdiction.
"Any such derogation would be completely at odds with the notion of an internal market and must be rejected to safeguard the future viability of Europe’s media services."
For further information, please contact Angela Mills Wade on (Tel: +44 1865 310 732 or Heidi Lambert, Press Officer, on (Tel: +44 1245 476 265.
Please see the industry declaration below.
Safeguarding the principles of mutual recognition and country of origin is the most effective way of ensuring that consumers are provided with the widest choice of innovative media services by a thriving European media,information, technology and entertainment industries.
The purpose of the 1989 Directive “Television without Frontiers” was to create an Internal Market for television broadcasting through introducing a vital principle: that the country of origin of the broadcaster was the place where media should be regulated, so that programmes could be freely broadcast across borders without reception being blocked within EU
countries and that th freedom of speech remained paramount.
The country of origin principle is equally important for all information society services and therefore underpinned the e-Commerce Directive which now provides the legal framework for the freedom to provide all online media services throughout the EU according to one set of rules.
In order to safeguard the freedom to provide media services throughout the European Union, the signatories of this Declaration call on the Council and Members of the European Parliament to:
- Ensure that Member States do not have new powers to restrict services from service providers established in another Member State which complies with their home country rules. “Audiovisual Media Services” and the programmes and advertising they carry, should be subject only to the law of the EU country where they are established. In exchange Member States have to ensure that the common rules of the Directive applicable for the whole of the EU are respected by those operators established in their countries.
- Reject all amendments relating to the articles covering jurisdiction. The compatibility of these amendments with the Treaty and European Court of Justice case law is seriously questionable as they would contradict fundamental principles of the Internal Market.
- Leave the original text of the proposal on jurisdiction from the Commission intact in order to safeguard the integrity of the legislation which already provides for derogations to its country of origin clauses where “manifest”, “serious” or “grave” risk to minors or in respect of incitement to hatred is concerned. The e-Commerce directive has similar derogations for the content of on-demand services.
- Recognise that without this principle of mutual recognition of standards harmonised at EU level based on home country control, media service providers will be subject to content control on the very broad grounds of unpredictable and widely varying “general public interest” from outside their place of establishment.
- Recognise that, without the COO principle, the provision of cross-border services would be dramatically hampered and EU citizens’freedom to access to programmes originating from other EU countries substantially damaged.
Without a properly functioning internal market in media services,consumers and other users are also discriminated against – unable to benefit from a larger choice of diverse European information and entertainment and of competitively priced and quality media services.
The current TVWF Directive provides for derogations to its country of origin clauses where “manifest”, “serious” or “grave” risk to minors or in respect of incitement to hatred is concerned. The e-Commerce directive has similar derogations for the content of on-demand information society services.
The amendments being considered in Council and Parliament would require home country regulators to request broadcasters to comply with any “more detailed or stricter rules of general public interest” adopted by another Member State. In other words, audiovisual media service providers could be requested to comply with other Member States’ standards, which go beyond those harmonised by the Directive.
The Commission proposal already allows for a derogation. Art 2.7 enables Member States to prevent abuse or fraudulent conduct by media service providers established in another Member State when directing all or most of their activities to the territory of the receiving Member State.
The Council now wishes to dispense with the “abuse or fraudulent conduct” conditions in order to be able to take measures against broadcasters that, while complying with national requirements established in order to transpose the Directive, are judged to be trying to avoid stricter rules adopted in the country of destination.
Although the name of the Directive has been changed, the very principle idea of creating a “European Audiovisual Media Space without Frontiers” based on internal market principles should be maintained when revising the Directive in order a) to maintain its integrity and b) to justify the introduction of harmonised rules for all audiovisual media content.
An Audiovisual Media Service falls within Article 50 of the Treaty which defines services.
Article 49 states that the freedom to provide cross border services is a “fundamental freedom” which is central to the effective functioning of the EU Internal Market.
Case law on the freedom to provide services is athttp://ec.europa.eu.
List of Signatories
- Association of Commercial Television in Europe
Contact: Ross Biggam (Tel: + 32 2 736 0052)
- The Advertising Association (UK)
- Association of European Radios
Contact: Vincent Sneed, Association Coordinator (Tel: + 32 2 736 9131)
- Advertising Information Group
- Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie e.V.
Contact: Jürgen R. Thumann, President (Tel: + 49 30 2028 1443)
Contact: Frederic Logghe, Regulatory Affairs (Tel: + 32 2 202 8977)
- Bertelsmann AG
Contact: Stephan Schumacher, Vice President Government Relations (Tel: + 32 2 230 4417)
- British Telecom European Affairs
Contact: Tilmann Kupfer, Head of EU Public Affairs (Tel: + 32 2 237 1713)
- Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation & neue Medien e.V.
Contact: Dr. Volker Kitz LL.M. (NYU) (Tel: + 49 30 2757 6221)
- Cable Europe
- Communications Management Association
Contact: David Harrington (Tel: + 44 7736 099 900 (mob))
- de Persgroep nv
(Tel: + 32 2 454 2211)
- Deutscher Kabelverband e.V.
Contact: Oliver Linnenborn (Tel: + 49 30 24 63 25 17)
- European Association of Communications Agencies
Contact: Dominic Lyle, Director General (Tel: + 32 2 740 0710)
- European Association of Directory & Database Publishers
Contact: Lucile Vareine, EU Affairs Office (Tel: + 32 2 646 3060)
- Verband der deutschen Internetwirtschaft e.V.
Contact: (Tel: + 49 221 7000 480)
- European Telecoms Association
Contact: Delphine Bernet-Travert, Public Affairs Manager (Tel: + 32 2 214 2883)
- European Digital Media Association
Contact : Luc Delany (Tel: + 32 2 626 1990)
- Association of Television and Radio Sales Houses
Contact: Bertrand Cazes, European Affairs & External Relations Advisor (Tel: + 32 2 290 3130)
- European Digital Industry Association
Contact: Christopher Gow, (Tel: + 32 2 609 5313)
- European Newspaper Publishers’ Association
Contact: Valtteri Niiranen, Director (Tel: + 32 2 551 0190)
- European Publishers Council
Contact: Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director (Tel: + 44 18 6531 0732)
- E-Business Regulatory Alliance
Contact: Will Roebuck, Director Legal Policy (Tel: + 44 20 7905 6281)
- European Telecommunications Network Operators Association
Contact: Fiona Taylor, Senior Adviser, Public Affairs (Tel: + 32 2 219 3242)
Contact: Richard Nash, Secretary General (Tel: + 32 2 503 2265, Fax:+32 2 503 4295)
- European Federation of Magazine Publishers
Contact: Max von Abendroth, Director of Communications & Sustainability (Tel: + 32 2 536 0604)
- Federation of Small Businesses
Contact: Peter Scargill
- Gruner & Jahr
Contact: Dr. Andreas Knaut (Tel: + 49 40 3703 3113)
- Group PRISA
- Interactive Advertising Bureau – Europe
Contact: Erin Lynch, (Tel: + 32 2 231 1299)
- GSM Europe
Contact: Eirini Zafeiratou, Director GSME (Tel: + 32 2 706 8106)
Contact: Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO
- International Communications Round Table
Contact: Mr John Stephens, ICRT Chairman (Tel: + 32 2 736 5354)
- Jubii A/S
Contact: Peter Lundsgaard
- News International Limited
Contact: James McManus
- Modern Times Group
Contact: Henry Manisty
- ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG
Contact: Els Hendrix, LL.M. European Affairs Manager (Tel: + 49 30 2090 2306)
- RTL Group
Contact: Estelle Laval, Head of European Affairs (Tel: + 352 2486 2081)
- SanomaWSOY Corporation
Contact: Hannu Syrjanen, CEO (Tel: + 358 10 519 5055)
- SBS Broadcasting Europe B.V.
Contact: Erik Moe, Senior VP, General Counsel (Tel: + 31 20 519 1940)
- Satellite and Cable Broadcasters’ Group
Contact: John Hambley, SCBG Chairman (Tel: + 32 473 46 07 49)
Contact: Janet Anderson, Corporate Affairs (Tel: + 44 207 782 6164)
- SIGMA TV/Dias Publishing
Contact: Andy Hadjicostis, Managing Director (Tel: + 357 22 580 600)
- Telegraph Media Group
Contact: Murdoch MacLenna, Chief Executive
- UNICE – The Voice of Business in Europe
Contact: Maria Fernanda Fau, Director Communications (Tel: + 32 2 237 6562)
- Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger
Contact: Christophe Fiedler, Director European Affaires & Media (Tel: + 49 30 7262 98120)
- Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH
Contact: Dr. Stefan von Holtzbrinck, (Tel: + 49 711 2150 211)
Contact: José María Bergareche, CEO (Tel: + 34 91 743 8104)
- Verband Privater Rundfunk und Telemedien e. V.
Contact: Nikolaus Lindner, European Affairs (Tel: + 49 30 398 800)
- Zentralverband der deutschen Werbewirtschaft e.V.
Contact: Manfred Parteina
- World Federation of Advertisers
Contact: Stephan Loerke, Managing Director
- Werbung Marktkommunikation