Majority of Member States miss deadline to implement revised audiovisual media rules

Only three countries adopted legislative proposals to implement the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2018/1808 ("AVMSD") ahead of the 19 September 2020 deadline for transposition by the Member States. The European Commission's aim with the AVMSD is to create media regulation that is appropriate for the 21st century. The revised Directive has a broader scope than its predecessor and includes, among other things, obligations for video platform service providers.

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, the implementation deadline of the AVMSD was not postponed, as Commissioner Thierry Breton stated in his speech of 4 May 2020. Meanwhile, guidelines to help Member States implement the AVMSD were adopted on 2 July 2020.

Currently, legislative proposals for the implementation of the AVMSD have been adopted in Hungary, which was the first country to do so, followed by Germany and Denmark. Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom have at least published a consultation document, but the legislative proposal has not been adopted yet. The UK has also notified the draft implementing legislation to the EU, although it has not yet been adopted.  Italy has not yet published a consultation document.

Key points in the revised Directive

Among the important revisions in the new AVMSD are the following points:

  • There will be a strengthened "country of origin" principle stipulating that media providers will only have to comply with rules of a Member State;

  • The obligation to promote European works for on-demand services means that at least 30% of the catalogue should be European content and this content should get a prominent place;

  • Better protection of minors from harmful content online;

  • Strengthened provisions to protect children from inappropriate audiovisual commercial communications for foods high in fat, salt, sodium and sugar, including by encouraging codes of conduct at EU level where appropriate;

  • Certain audiovisual rules will also apply to video platform services, including services such as YouTube and audiovisual content shared on social media. For example, video platform services must take appropriate measures to protect people from material inciting violence or hatred and content that constitutes a criminal offence;

  • Television video services and video on demand will be better protected against incitement to violence or hatred, as well as public provocation to commit terrorist offences;

  • There will be more flexibility with regard to television advertising;

  • The possibility of an "investment obligation" has also been raised. While not obligation, implementation of this measure means that a certain percentage of the turnover generated in a Member State will have to be invested in the (co-)production of cultural audiovisual offerings of the relevant Member State. As a result, operators would be obliged to invest more in local cultural offerings. For example, the Netherlands aims to implement this.

Bird & Bird keeps track of the transposition of the new rules in the Member States where it has offices via the Bird & Bird Implementation Tracker AVMS Directive.

For further information contact Paul Waszink or Hera Butt

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