Audiovisual media: MEPs approve new rules fit for a digital age 


New rules on audiovisual media aim to better protect viewers, encourage innovation and promote European content. MEPs approved them on 2 October.

The internet has dramatically changed how we watch films, videos and television shows. On 2 October MEPs vpted in favour of legislation for audiovisual media services that has been updated to keep up with these developments.

The revised legislation would not only apply to traditional broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to live streaming on video-sharing platforms.

Protecting viewers

As watching videos is one of children's favourite activities on the internet, the new legislation includes proposals to better protect them, including reducing their exposure to publicity on unhealthy food and beverages and banning advertising and product placement for tobacco, electronic cigarettes and alcohol in children’s TV programmes and video-sharing platforms.

The new rules would also prohibit any content inciting violence, hatred and terrorism, while gratuitous violence and pornography would be subject to the strictest rules. Video-sharing platforms would also be responsible for reacting quickly when content is reported or flagged as harmful by users.

“It will be possible for adults to implement filtering software on the content of their children and also to have age verification software on content that may be harmful,” said German EPP member Sabine Verheyen, one of the MEPs responsible for steering these proposals through Parliament.

Advertising limits

The new rules would set limits for a maximum of 20% of advertising for the daily broadcasting period between 6.00 and 18.00, giving the broadcaster the flexibility to adjust their advertising periods.

European content

In order to increase cultural diversity and promote European content, the new legislation proposes that 30% of content of TV channels and VOD platforms would have to be European. This would mean EU productions and co-productions with European countries that have signed the European Convention on Transfrontier television.

“What we are experiencing today with the internet, videos and films available online, up until now hasn’t been regulated. This is why we needed to update the directive,“ said German S&D member Petra Kammerevert, the other MEP in charge of Parliament's position on these proposals.

Next steps

The new legislation would still need to be approved by the Council as well before it can enter into force. After that EU countries would have 21 months after its entry into force to transpose the new rules into national legislation.