Better consumer protection and a formal industry-led co-regulatory system will be introduced for the first time as common standards for video-on-demand services are adopted across Europe.
The new measures are part of the European Union Audio Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive which will be implemented on 19 December.
Minister for Creative Industries Siôn Simon said:
"The UK has been at the forefront of negotiations to ensure this Directive is adopted by the whole of the EU and I’m glad this work has now paid off. Maintaining EU-wide standards on television and video-on-demand services is not only good for audiences but also good for broadcasters who have a common set of guidelines to work to."
The three main areas of the Directive where measures are being implemented are:
- introducing a system for regulating video-on-demand services in the UK;
- controls over the content of non-EU satellite channels which are uplinked from a ground station in the UK; and
- allowing any EU broadcaster to take short extracts of another broadcaster’s exclusive coverage to include in a news programme.
Under the Directive the UK has an obligation to make sure video-on-demand services meet new cross-EU standards, with Member States encouraged to adopt a co-regulatory solution. This means the system of regulation is owned and run by the video-on-demand industry, but with backup powers for the Government or a national authority to intervene if need be.
AVMS also gives the UK new responsibility for the content of the small number of non-EU satellite TV channels which legally broadcast into Europe from ground stations in Britain. Ofcom will now be able to take appropriate action if any of these channels are found to be transmitting unacceptable content.
The Directive also requires Members States to ensure that any EU broadcaster is able to take short extracts of another broadcaster’s exclusive coverage of an event to include in a news programme. The UK already makes provision for this through the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act, and therefore there has been no need for further changes or legislation to implement this requirement.
A further compulsory element of the AVMS Directive is to prohibit product placement, which is already the case in the UK. However the Directive allows Member States to bring in certain exceptions in certain types of TV programme. DCMS is currently holding a public consultation on this issue which ends on January 8 2010.
And finally, under the Directive television channels based in the UK which broadcast solely across the internet are now required to get a license from Ofcom, making the regulations standard across all platforms.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The AVMS Directive came into force in December 2007. The UK and all other Member States have until December 2009 to implement it in their domestic law. It revises and updates the existing Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive which was adopted in 1989 and amended in 1997.
2. The current consultation paper on product placement is available at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/consultations/6421.aspx
3. Further information about the AVMS Directive is available on the European Commission’s website
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