What is at stake?
Audiovisual programmes reflect cultural values, identity and meaning that go beyond their strictly commercial value. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the legal framework that establishes the fundamental principles for a safe, pluralistic and open audiovisual media landscape in Europe. The reviewed AVMSD maintains key provisions to that end and establishes new rules protecting content integrity and clarifying Member States' ability to ensure prominence of public value content. It also includes a new approach for video-sharing platforms to protect minors, to fight hate speech and to abide by basic advertising standards.
Our goal as public service media (PSM) is to ensure that ‘free-to-air’ content of public value remains easily found and accessed by audiences, and that it continues playing a central role in stimulating the European creative economy and cultural diversity. Ensuring access and findability of PSM programming in a converging world is crucial for the preservation of open, balanced and informed debate on important issues shaping society.
Prominence approach for all platforms
PSM play a central role in democratic societies by providing a means to inform citizens, shape public opinion and offer a window to the world. Prominence – or findability as it is often called – is a crucial principle to ensure citizens are sufficiently aware of public service content and other content of particular value to society.
Intermediaries such as online platforms and TV distributors affect the access, visibility and findability of content by determining the positioning of home screens or search and recommendation options. In particular where they are vertically integrated, intermediaries have a clear incentive to draw audiences to content that suits their commercial interests, which risks marginalising content of public value. We call on national policy-makers to establish modern rules to keep public value content prominent and easy to find.
Protection of content integrity
To secure trust in audiovisual media and to sustain investment in original European content, it is key to protect media service providers who hold editorial responsibility from uncontrolled and unwarranted overlays by third parties, such as platform operators or other intermediaries. According to the reviewed AVMS Directive, programmes and audiovisual media services should not be altered or interrupted, or overlaid for commercial purposes, without the media service provider’s explicit consent. We encourage national legislators to adopt comprehensive and effective implementing rules on content integrity.
Strengthened fairness in European audiovisual media sector
By aggregating or selecting audiovisual content or by providing a direct interface between user and content, new audiovisual platforms play an ever-significant role in audiovisual media consumption. The reviewed AVMS Directive introduces new responsibilities for video-sharing platform service providers in terms of basic advertising rules. We believe that these new rules are an important first step to strengthen fairness in the European audiovisual media sector provided that they are effectively and consistently implemented.
Accessibility and safety of content for viewers
The AVMSD requires media services providers to protect minors from harmful content, such as scheduling restrictions, technical measures and visual indicators. In addition, the AVMSD states that EU Member States must ensure that audiovisual content does not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality. It also reinforces accessibility so that everyone may enjoy audiovisual media services on equal footing.
We commend that the reviewed AVMSD levels up the rules protecting against harmful content regardless of whether viewers watch linear or on-demand audiovisual content and introduces new rules for video-sharing platforms to protect against harmful content.
Free access to information and events of major importance
The AVMSD also helps Member States ensure events of major importance are available on a free-to-air basis for their population. This aims to avoid a situation where, for example, a major sports event like the Olympic Games or a landmark national ceremony would only be available on pay-per-view basis or a subscription-based TV channel. This provision is of great importance for national and social cohesion.
Country of Origin Principle: Legal certainty for cross-border offers
The country-of-origin principle is a cornerstone and success story of the current AVMSD. According to this principle, each EU Member State is legally responsible for all audiovisual media services originating from its own country. This means media services providers come under the jurisdiction of only one EU country rather than being regulated by authorities from multiple countries.
The EBU's presentation on Prominence at a workshop for national regulatory authorities organised by the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media
The revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) ensures that media service providers’ programmes and services are protected against any modifications made without their consent. In a market where...
It is well-known that platforms increasingly moderate content, demoting it or granting preferential treatment to their own services or that of third parties against payment. The spread of disinformation...