The Parliaments' rapporteur Ruth Hieronymi (EPP-ED, DE) was satisfied with the Parliaments approval of the Council common position, which was a result of negotiations between Parliament and Council that took into account most of the concerns raised in Parliament's first reading.
"The modernisation of the rules for television comes just in time," Ms Hieronymi said during the debate Wednesday in Brussels, and underlined the importance of the new rules especially in view of the coming telecom-packages and directive on-line content.
New rules on advertising and product placement
The new rules update the 1997 Television without Frontiers directive, now to be dubbed the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, to keep pace with developments in audiovisual technology and advertising. They will apply to "TV-like services" such as web-streamed TV programmes, but not to private web sites. TV-programmes 'on-demand' from for instance the Internet will be covered by the qualitative rules concerning protection of minors and product placement - but not on the rules concerning the amount of time allowed for advertising.
One innovation is the rules on "product placement", whereby a specific product is placed in TV-programmes for commercial purposes. This would be allowed only in a limited range of programmes, and then only under strict rules. It would be prohibited in news and current affairs programmes, children's programmes, documentaries and programmes providing advice. Parliament has ensured, that signals must appear when a programme containing product placement starts, when it ends and after commercial breaks. Members states can still choose to have a ban on product placement.
Commercial breaks every half-hour
Commercial breaks will be permitted every 30 minutes in TV films, cinematographic works and news programmes. In children's programmes, commercial breaks will not be allowed unless the programmes are more than 30 minutes long. There are no insertion rules for other types of programmes, such as serials. The maximum of amount of advertising permitted under the new rules would not exceed be 12 minutes an hour.
Furthermore, Member States and the Commission are required to encourage media service providers to develop codes of conduct towards children, for example to preclude junk food commercials aimed at children.
Parliament also ensured that a provision on access to media services for disabled people was included in the legislation itself, and not just the introductory remarks, and included an the obligation for Member states to ensure that the directive's application is overseen by independent regulatory bodies.
The new rules were given their first reading in Parliament in December 2006. Then negotiations between Parliament and the Council took place and a political agreement backed by the Committee on Culture and Education was reached in May 2007. Since May lawyer-linguists have been working on the final version, which was officially adopted in the Council on 15 October and the Culture and Education Committee on 12 November.