United Kingdom

Stage of legislative progress 

The Audio Visual Media Services Regulations 2020 were enacted on 30 September 2020. These Regulations implement the AVMS Directive into English law by amending various pieces of existing legislation, such as the Communications Act 2003 and Broadcasting Act 1990. 

If known expected date of next step


National particular circumstances

The Audio Visual Media Services Regulations 2020 implement the AVMS Directive into English law. Most of the provisions contained in the new Regulations came into force on 1 November 2020, although some will not apply until 1 April 2021. The UK's regulator, Ofcom, has published a guide to the new regulatory requirements for VSPs. From 6 April 2021, VSP providers will be required to notify Ofcom that they fall within scope of the regulation. Ofcom intends to publish further guidance on the scope and jurisdiction later this year, and Guidance on the risk of harms and appropriate measures will be consulted on in early 2021 and published in summer 2021.


The UK left the EU on 31 December 2020 and the Broadcasting (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Broadcasting Amendment Regulations) came into force on Exit Day. As a result, the UK is no longer a party to the AVMS Directive and is classed as a ‘third country’ under the terms of the Directive. Subject to some important exceptions, the UK has now moved to a country of destination system, requiring television services available in the UK to be licensed and regulated by Ofcom. 

The UK remains a party to the Council of Europe's European Convention of Transfrontier Television (ECTT). The ECTT ensures freedom of reception of linear cable and satellite broadcasts between the UK and other ECTT countries (which includes 20 EU member states), in effect retaining the country-of-origin principle in relation to ECTT countries. It should be noted that the ECTT does not apply to video-on-demand services nor does it apply (according to Ofcom's interpretation) to online-only services. From Exit Day, there is a six month grace period during which broadcasters that are established in an EEA country that is not party to the ECTT can continue broadcasting in the UK without an Ofcom licence, in order to allow them time to obtain the required licence(s). 

UK productions will continue to count as European Works for the purpose of the AVMS Directive's European Works quotas (because the UK is a party to the ECTT), but the AVMS Directive's reporting obligations regarding compliance with the European Works quota do not apply to broadcasters established in the UK. 

Over time we may see UK law diverging from the AVMS Directive. The UK Government has already announced that it intends its Online Harms regime to replace parts of the framework created by the new Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2020.