EU Commission launches infringement procedure over media services directive ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Flag of the European Union and related institutions next to the Estonian flag.
Flag of the European Union and related institutions next to the Estonian flag. Source: ERR

The European Commission has launched infringement procedures against 23 member states, including Estonia, for failing to transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into national legislation.

The European Commission launched infringement procedures on Monday (November 23) against 23 member states and the United Kingdom for failing to enact the new rules governing EU-wide coordination of all audiovisual media, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services, and video-sharing platforms. 

The deadline for transposing the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive into national legislation was September 19, 2020, and only Denmark, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden have notified transposition measures and declared their notification complete.

The Commission has sent letters of formal notice to Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, and the United Kingdom, requesting them to provide further information. They now have two months to reply.  

Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said: "We want a level playing field for all media players and to better protect children and consumers when accessing audiovisual content. We also want to ensure more diversity on video-on-demand platforms and create a fairer audiovisual landscape. This is why we have common rules. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive merits all our collective effort. It is an important achievement, which will foster cultural diversity in audiovisual media services."

The EU's current Audiovisual Media Services Directive governs EU-wide coordination of national legislation on audiovisual media services, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand services, and video-sharing platforms.

However, the media landscape has shifted dramatically in less than a decade. Millions of Europeans, especially young people, watch content online, on demand and on different mobile devices.

Taking these new developments into account, the Commission proposed a revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive in May 2016 that included a new approach to online platforms disseminating audiovisual content.

The European Parliament and the Council reached in June 2018 a political agreement on the revised rules, which were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in November 2018.

The main goal of the directive is to create and ensure the proper functioning of a single European market for audiovisual media services, while contributing to the promotion of cultural diversity, providing an adequate level of consumer protection and safeguarding media pluralism.

Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, said: "Two years ago, we collectively - including the member states - agreed to upgrade EU rules on audio-visual content. These rules better protect all viewers -- in particular the most vulnerable such as minors -- foster cultural diversity and safeguard media pluralism. However, they won't bring any of these benefits if they remain on paper. I call on member states to enact these rules without further delays to ensure a safer, fairer and more diverse environment online."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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