New rules for audiovisual media services approved by Parliament

Audiovisual 2018

© European Union , 2015 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

MEPs voted on updated rules on audiovisual media services, protecting children better, with stricter rules on advertising, and 30% European content in video-on-demand.

Following the final vote on this agreement, the revised legislation will apply to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing platforms.

The updated rules will ensure:

  • Enhanced protection of minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising

Audiovisual media services providers should have appropriate measures to combat content inciting violence, hatred and terrorism, while gratuitous violence and pornography will be subject to the strictest rules. Video-sharing platforms will now be responsible for reacting quickly when content is reported or flagged by users as harmful.

The legislation does not include any automatic filtering of uploaded content, but, at the request of the Parliament, platforms need to create a transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content.

The new law includes strict rules on advertising, product placement in children’s TV programmes and content available on video-on-demand platforms. EP negotiators also secured a personal data protection mechanism for children, imposing measures to ensure that data collected by audiovisual media providers are not processed for commercial use, including for profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.

  • Redefined limits of advertising

Under the new rules, advertising can take up a maximum of 20% of the daily broadcasting period between 6.00 and 18.00, giving the broadcaster the flexibility to adjust their advertising periods. A prime-time window between 18:00 and 0:00 was also set out, during which advertising will only be allowed to take up a maximum of 20% of broadcasting time.

  • 30% of European content on the video-on-demand platforms’ catalogues

In order to support the cultural diversity of the European audiovisual sector, MEPs ensured that 30% of content in the video-on-demand platforms’ catalogues should be European.

Video-on-demand platforms are also asked to contribute to the development of European audiovisual productions, either by investing directly in content or by contributing to national funds. The level of contribution in each country should be proportional to their on-demand revenues in that country (member states where they are established or member states where they target the audience wholly or mostly).

The legislation also includes provisions regarding accessibility, integrity of a broadcaster’s signal, strengthening regulatory authorities and promoting media competences.

Next steps

The deal still needs to be formally approved by the Council of EU ministers before the revised law can enter into force. Member States have 21 months after its entry into force to transpose the new rules into national legislation.

The text was adopted by 452 votes against 132, with 65 abstentions.

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