European Council proposes revised directive on audiovisual media services

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 
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Adapting to technological changes, preserving European competitiveness and fundamental values in audiovisual services

The European Council reached a general approach on the proposal for a revised directive on audiovisual media services (AVMS). The aim of the proposal is to respond to the unprecedented technological and market changes that the digital shift has brought about in order to preserve the competitiveness of Europe’s audiovisual industry, while preserving fundamental values such as the protection of minors, media pluralism, cultural diversity and consumer protection.

Following intensive work in Council under the Slovak and Maltese Presidencies, the Maltese Presidency obtained an agreement today at the Council on a compromise text that provides the necessary rules to shape technological developments in order to protect our citizens and particularly our children from harmful audiovisual content, such as hate speech, violence and terrorism, whilst preserving freedom of speech.

The main elements of the text are the following:

  • TV broadcasting and on-demand services will now have to apply the same rules. Furthermore; the scope of the directive has been extended to include video-sharing platforms and social media services that provide a significant amount of audiovisual content.
  • more effective jurisdiction rules and strengthened cooperation procedures were provided for to deal with problems relating to cross-border services, for instance those arising from providers established in one country but targeting an audience in another.

Furthermore, it will be easier for a member state to take action if it considers that a programme coming from a provider in another member state presents a serious risk to its public security or public health:

  • the promotion of European works will also apply to on-demand service providers in order to ensure cultural diversity. They will have to include in their catalogues a minimum 30% quota of European works. Members states will also have the possibility to require a financial contribution from media service providers, including those established in another member state, with exemptions for start-ups and small enterprises;

Furthermore, and equally important, more flexible rules on audiovisual commercial communications are also foreseen, but with more stringent requirements on alcohol and cigarette advertising. Provisions guaranteeing the independence of national regulators, safeguard of media pluralism; the transparency of media ownership and ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities are also included.

Minister Bonnici said “We are very proud to have reached an agreement on audio-visual media services. This is a complex directive which touches on very sensitive issues such as the internal market, fundamental rights and freedoms, cultural diversity and the protection of minors.

But the marketplace and technology are developing rapidly. We have to ensure that the relevant rules keep pace with these changes. Today’s agreement in the Council constitutes a further step forward in the completion of the Digital Single Market, which is vital for Europe’s future prosperity.

Next steps

The agreement at the Council will pave the way for starting negotiations with the European Parliament, with a view to adopting the directive as soon as possible.


The Commission presented its proposal in May 2016 as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy.

The proposal has been under examination in Council during two presidencies and a progress report was presented by the Slovak Presidency in November 2016.

The Culture and Education Committee (CULT) voted its report on 25 April 2017 and the EP plenary granted a mandate to the CULT Committee on 17 May to start negotiations with the Council.