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 EPC Members' Newsletter: January 2002

 

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NEWSLETTER CONTENTS
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DIARY DATES

KEY ISSUES FOR JANUARY 2002

WHAT'S NEW?

1. Electronic Commerce
1.1The eCommerce Directive
1.2 Western Europe internet users numbers exceed USA
1.3 EU sets rules for VAT on electronic services
1.4 Oxford University Press to put more material online
2. Internet Regulation (content)
2.1 Rome II New law would over-burden media
2.2 Erkki Liikanen on eEurope
2.3 .Name: The World's First Domain for the Individual
2.4 ESC unveils results of major new research on protecting children on the internet
3. Copyright
3.1 Rightswatch Forum
3.2 Digital Rights Management consultation
4. Advertising
4.1 Tobacco Advertising hearing date - 15 April 2023
4.2 Sales Promotion proposal moving again
4.3 Duty to Trade Fairly - First consultation phase ended
5. Audiovisual and General Media Policy
5.1 Television Without Frontiers
5.2 TVWF Forthcoming Review/latest conference on Advertising Techniques
5.3 GATS 2000 proposals at the WTO
5.4 Council of Europe hearing
6. General
6.1 Spanish Presidency
6.2 President of the Parliament
6.3 Commission reshuffle and new EP Chairs appointed
6.4 Company law: Commission welcomes experts' report on takeovers
6.5 Revision of the 1997 Directive on postal services
6.6 Online consultation on public sector information

UPCOMING EVENTS


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DIARY DATES
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February
04 Feb: European parliament plenary session
12 Feb: ECOFIN Council meeting in Brussels
12 Feb: Conference 'Europe's Cultural Policy Challenges' in Paris
13-14 Feb: Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Santiago de Compostela
14 Feb: Education and Youth Council meeting in Brussels
18 Feb: The last TWF seminar on "Quotas" will take place in Brussels European Voice
TWF Conference March, Brussels. The exact date of this conference is to be confirmed.
21-23 Feb: Informal meeting of Telecoms and Information Society ministers in Vitoria

March
04 Mar: EPC Corporate Affairs Group meeting, Brussels 1300 hrs
04 Mar: Dinner for EPC members, Brussels
05 Mar: The Publishers Forum, Brussels
07-08 Mar: The Bertelsmann Foundation and the AOL Time Warner Foundation will be holding a '21st Century Literacy Summit' in Berlin, Germany

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KEY ISSUES FOR JANUARY 2002
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Market Abuse

Theresa Villiers MEP has agreed to table the amendments suggested by EPC and other media groups to the Goebbels report on Market Abuse. The EPC has already won a partial victory in the Council with a change in the definition of market abuse. The Council text states that where a person who has disseminated information "knew or ought to have known" that it was false or misleading, they will be guilty of market abuse.

The draft report is also an improvement on the Commission proposal as it includes the definition "aware or should have been aware" as well as a reference to a profit motive.

The EPC and other media groups are still pressing for the inclusion of the concept of an intention to mislead into the definition and are lobbying for the deletion of Article 6.4, Which could impose pubic disclosure of interest requirements if it is interpreted as applying to journalists.

The report and amendments will be discussed at the next meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on 18-20th February. More information and a copy of the latest letter to MEPs sent by the EPC is available on request.

Zimbabwe Media Freedom

In January EPC wrote to the Spanish Presidency of the EU regarding the threat to the media posed by Zimbabwe¹s planned legislation. In spite of massive effort from the international community and from the media in particular, Zimbabwe's parliament passed the country's controversial 'Access to Information and Protection of Privacy' Bill on Thursday 31 January 2002.

The bill restricts press freedom by making it mandatory to register with a Commission to report from the country. Only Zimbabwean citizens or residents of the country will be eligible for registration.

The legislation has been sharply criticised by Western states and media groups for seeking to undermine press freedom in the country ahead of the 09-10 March 2002 election. The European Union met with the Zimbabwean delegation and has now threatened to withdraw aid to Zimbabwe unless it admits election observers and stops the intimidation of the media by 03 February 2002.

More information and a copy of the letter sent by the EPC is available on request.

Cookies and Data Protection

The EPC has written to Commissioner Liikanen to ask for his support for a "cookie friendly" amendment during the passage of his controversial data protection directive during Parliament's second reading.

The MEPs had adopted a highly restrictive amendment during their first reading which would have subjected the use of cookies to explicit prior consent. EPC called instead for an opt-out approach in order that users could be informed about the use of cookies and then make their own choices about whether or not to disable them.

The wording agreed by the Telecoms Ministers in December clearly rejected the Parliament's amendment and supported the opt-out approach, but included a requirement that the information about cookies should be given in advance of any cookie being served!

EPC is campaigning for the removal of this onerous requirement, which contradicts the principles of opting out, arguing instead that users need only be given clear and easy to follow information about the use of cookies in an obvious way, and how to reject them if they so wish.

Publishers' Forum 05 March 2002.

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WHAT'S NEW?
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1. Electronic commerce

1.1 The eCommerce Directive
Ten EU Member States, notably the UK and France, missed the deadline for implementation of the EU e-commerce Directive, due by 17 January. Only Austria, Finland, Germany, Ireland and Luxemburg were on schedule.
The DTI in the UK has called for further consultation to clarify the legal framework of the draft Regulations. It intends to publish draft Regulations within the next few weeks.

1.2 Western Europe Internet user numbers exceeds USA
By the end of 2001 the number of internet users in Western Europe exceeded that of the US for the first time. Europe has also surpassed Japan as an ecommerce revenue source, becoming second only to the US.
Between 2001 and 2005 ecommerce revenue will reach $4.6 trillion (E5.1 trillion). The $1 trillion (E1.1 trillion) worldwide ecommerce revenue mark should be reached later this year.

1.3 EU sets rules for VAT on electronic services
EU Economics and Finance Ministers have agreed new arrangements for VAT on services supplied electronically.
Services affected include digital broadcasting, software and computer services and entertainment services. The measures will be formally adopted in late February.
There will be further discussion on the Swedish proposal for VAT to be added to non-EU sales to non-business EU customers..

1.4 Oxford University Press to put more material online
Oxford University Press will put its mini-encyclopedias, dictionaries and companions onto a website called Oxford Reference Online.
This will be the biggest reference work on the internet. The publisher has launched this new project due to the great success of its online Oxford English Dictionary website. Instead of losing money, which many people believed the earlier site would do, the publisher saw hundreds of its subscriptions renewed over the past three months and has so far made over GBP£1m (E1.6m) in gross revenue.

2.Internet regulation (content)

2.1 Rome II New law would over-burden media
This controversial proposal deals with applicable law in fields including defamation, privacy and unfair competition. Commissioner Byrne wants laws to be determined by the consumer, therefore according to the law of his country of residence, regardless of the origin of the goods and services in question. Commissioners Bolkestein (Internal Market), Liikanen (Information Society) and Reding (Media) all share the EPC's view that country of origin rules should apply to all media and e-commerce services. The EPC has written to Commissioner Vittorino (Justice and Home Affairs), who wants to avoid drafting a Green Paper and go straight for the draft Regulation, to call for exemption from any Regulation for media covered by both the E-commerce and Television Without Frontiers Directive. The EPC is keen to see proper consultation so that all interested parties can make their views known. EPC Letter available on request.

2.2 Erkki Liikanen on eEurope
Mr Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, affirmed in a recent speech that the key achievement of the eEurope programme so far was to put the Internet on top of the political agendas of all Member States.
The main priorities now for Mr Liikanen are to promote broadband Internet access (including the next generation of mobile communications), content, e-government, the guarantee of security and confidence in cyberspace and to bridge the digital divide by giving skills to all.

2.3 .Name: The World's First Domain for the Individual
On 15 January 2024 the Global Name Registry launched .name This top level domain is the first (such as .com, .net, .org) exclusively for the individual, as opposed to commercial enterprises. .name allows individuals to create their own personal address(www.firstname.lastname.name) and email (firstname@lastname.name) made up purely of their name (or nickname) and .name.

2.4 ESC unveils results of major new research on protecting children on the internet
In an additional opinion adopted unanimously in plenary session on 28 November 2023 the European ESC has made public the results of a survey of children's attitudes to, and use of, the internet across Europe. On analysis of the results the ESC takes the view that voluntary rating has not done the job of protecting children online. In its opinion, all internet sites must be rated as a mandatory requirement.

3. Copyright

3.1 Rightswatch Forum
RightsWatch, a project funded by the European Commission, is seeking to develop a self-regulatory approach that can deal fairly and effectively with on-line copyright infringements. To build consensus among all relevant stakeholders, RightsWatch will be holding its first Forum on 12-13 February at the BT Centre in London. A template for authentication is available on request.
For full details of the programme please see http://www.rightswatch.com.

3.2 Digital Rights Management consultation
The Commission is preparing a Communication on Digital Rights Management. Although it does not think there should be mandatory standards it wishes to encourage industry to move in that direction.
A hearing on Digital Rights Management will take place on 28 February 2002 at the European Commission in Brussels. A CEN Committee (Organisation for Standardisation in Brussels) is also looking at DRMs with the Commission and selected stakeholders. It met on 15 January 2002 and has produced a draft report which will be discussed at the February hearing.

4. Advertising

4.1 Tobacco Advertising hearing date ­ 15 April 2023
Following the debate in the Environment Committee on the Tobacco Advertising Directive the Legal Affairs Committee Secretariat has confirmed that an open hearing with a panel of experts will be held on 15th April in Brussels including a representative from Gruner and Jahr. EPC will be briefing MEPs in advance of the hearing and attending on the day.
The latest compromise text in the Council limits the proposal to press which "significantly" crosses borders. However broadcasters have already objected to such wording to the Commission as it would have an impact on the Television Without Frontiers principles.

4.2 Sales Promotion proposal moving again
This draft regulation will affect publishers significantly in a number of areas as it lays down legal requirements concerning competitions, games of chance, free gifts, discounts and premium offers. Copies of the proposal are available on request.
In early January it was announced that the Sales Promotion regulation would be stalled in the Council Consumer Working Group until the outcome of the discussions on the Green Paper on Consumer Protection was known. However a great deal of lobbying by industry associations including the EPC has led the Spanish presidency to announce they will in fact carry on discussions.
The Rapporteur in the European Parliament, MEP Ward Beysen threatened to turn the delay into an institutional battle should the Council refuse to discuss the draft Regulation.

4.3 Duty to Trade Fairly ­ First Consultation phase ended
No case for new regulatory system for advertising, argues EPC - more consultation, please.

The EPC has written to Commissioner Byrne in response to the Green Paper on Consumer Protection - a proposal which seeks to improve an apparent lack of consumer confidence in cross-border trading in goods and services, online or through traditional methods. The EPC argues that the Commission provides no evidence to indicate poor consumer confidence and insists that current regulatory frameworks provide the best consumer protection.
The EPC says in its letter: "The Commission has not established a convincing case to move to a new way of regulating advertising, marketing and business practices at European level based on a common "duty to trade fairly". The proposal suggests that widespread self-regulation in the advertising and communications sectors would be replaced by a new form of legislation.
The EPC questions i) lack of evidence to support the Commission's claims; ii) lack of clarity of definitions about what shape any new-style legislation would take. The Green Paper implies that self-regulation can only be effective if pan-European although it fails to back up this assertion with evidence to show that the current system of national self-regulation of both advertising and editorial content isn't working.
The EPC is calling on the Commission to adopt specific measures designed to address specific problems, combined with an ongoing system of existing self-regulation to deal with fraud, "rogue" traders and non-fulfilment of contracts. The EPC would oppose the adoption of a framework directive based on a general duty to trade fairly which would be disproportionate to the problems identified under the current regulatory system. The EPC favours an internal market approach founded on mutual recognition of national law to best serve consumers and businesses alike.
The EPC has requested further consultation.

5. Audiovisual & General Media Policy

5.1 Television Without Frontiers
The European Culture Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has announced that she will be unveiling the first draft of the new "Television without Frontiers" directive at the Culture Council on 23 May. She explained that she had completed a consultation process involving more than 1,500 people from all political walks of life and would now be listening to professional stakeholders, public and private broadcasting bosses and film-makers. After going through the results of the consultation process, it will be decided whether it will be necessary to negotiate a new directive or keep the current one. EPC Chairman, Francisco Balsemao will attend Reding¹s high level summit of media owners mid-February.

5.2 TVWF Forthcoming Review/ latest Conference on Advertising Techniques
2002 is key for TV Without Frontiers with the proposed revision of the directive due by the end of the year. The directive lays down certain advertising content and scheduling rules and sets quotas for independent and European production.
Three key studies on quotas, the future of the industry and advertising have been commissioned. Preliminary conclusions on advertising presented this month have identified the definition of advertising as a key issue: not all new forms of advertising fall into obvious categories currently regulated under the directive. There appear to be only two options on the table: extending the directive to allow ongoing adaptation of regulation on a case by case basis as new forms of advertising appear; and the creation of a completely new directive which would be extended to all media. The EPC feels this would be very difficult to apply: different industry sectors start from different levels of regulation. Broadcasters, for example, are very heavily regulated whereas the Internet is largely left to self-regulation. Whilst there is work underway in Italy and the UK to put regulation of all media sectors under one roof, this is not the case for most countries - implementing and enforcing this directive would be extremely difficult. The EPC will lobby against any further restrictions and is calling on the Commission to de-regulate to help private media compete with publicly-funded media. The EPC is also calling on the Commission to avoid affording any special treatment to public broadcasters.
On 17 January 2024 Bird and Bird presented the results of their studies into new forms of advertising techniques in the context of the re-examination of the TWF Directive. Three sessions took place over the course of the day covering the evolution of advertising techniques: economic parameters and constraints, new sponsorship techniques and split screen advertising. A full report of the proceedings can be obtained on request.
Another study on TWF produced by the European Institute for the Media has been published on the Commission website. More information is available on request.

5.3 GATS 2000 proposals at the WTO
The EU has included a proposal on "business services", which incorporates "printing and publishing services" in its GATS 2000 proposals.
The Commission wants to initiate a debate on objectives for future negotiation. Areas covered in the proposal are residency requirements for business, ownership restrictions and temporary movement of staff. A copy of the full document is available on request.
The cinema, audiovisual policy and intellectual property intergroup of the European Parliament chaired by Geneviève Fraisse organised a debate with European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on the theme "The WTO and Culture". Mr Lamy started by setting out the way work was distributed in the Commission between himself and Mme Reding. Mr Lamy talked about how WTO rules apply to the audiovisual sector and stressed his opinion that Intellectual Property rule adjustment should be dealt with by the WTO. He had no strong views on the need for legislation to ensure cultural diversity. A full copy of the proceedings is available on request.

5.4 Council of Europe Hearing
The inter-governmental Group of Specialists on freedom of expression and other fundamental rights under the Steering Committee on the Mass Media held a hearing on a draft Recommendation and Declaration on the provision of information through the media in relation to criminal proceedings. The hearing brought together a limited number of media representatives, lawyers and judges in order to discuss in an informal manner these texts before their formal approval. More information can be found at http://www.humanrights.coe.int/media and http://www.coe.int/cyberforum.

6. General

6.1 Spanish Presidency
With a New Year comes a new Presidency and Spain has been busy setting out its priorities for the next sixmonths. In addresses to the European Parliament and the Commission Spanish ministers have talked of their six main priorities. These are:
- the continued fight against terrorism
- a smooth transition to the Euro
- the continuation of the enlargement process
- further social and economic reforms
- facilitation of a debate on an enlarged Europe
A focus of particular attention during the Spanish Presidency will be the cultural content of the digital era and the application of information and knowledge technologies to cultural heritage. Another of the Spanish Presidency¹s priorities will be the digitalisation of content. The European Union will need to take all the requisite initiatives to produce its own audiovisual digital content capable of competing with American production. A very useful website giving a fuller description of "Mas Europa"- more Europe, the Presidency slogan for the next six months - can be found at http://www.ue2002.es.

6.2 President of the Parliament
The European parliament has elected Pat Cox, a 49-year-old Irishman and leader of the European Liberal Democrat Group, as its president for the next 30 months in the hope that his media experience will raise the standing of the directly elected assembly.

6.3 Commission reshuffle and new EP Chairs appointed
The Commission reshuffle was announced last week. This means some radical changes for the Commission as part of Mr Kinnock¹s continued staff review involving many of the people the EPC has built up working relationships with over the years.
The Parliament also announced changes to the Chairs and Vice Chairs of Committees following votes last week. Details of these changes can be received on request.

6.4 Company Law: Commission welcomes experts¹ report on takeovers
In January the High Level Group on Company Law produced the ŒExpert Report on Takeovers¹. The report contains detailed recommendations on three issues which the European Parliament had asked the Commission to examine during negotiations over a previous proposal for a Takeover Bids Directive. Issues examined were:
- how to ensure the existence of a level playing field in the EU concerning the equal treatment of shareholders across all Member States
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the definition of the notion of an "equitable price" to be paid to minority shareholders
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the right for a majority shareholder to buy out minority shareholders ("squeeze-out procedure")
The expert group will now make further recommendations on other aspects of Company law by mid-2002.

6.5 Revision of the 1997 Directive on postal services
An exchange of views on the Council common position on the revision of the 1997 Directive on postal services was held in parliament this month. The rapporteur recommended the European Parliament adopted the compromise reached at the Telecommunications Council of 15 October 2023 without any amendment. However, other members of the committee feel that amendments are necessary. The deadline for amendments is scheduled for 05 February 2002.

6.6 Online Consultation on public sector information
The Commission has launched a consultation on the communication "eEurope 2002: Creating a EU Framework for the Exploitation of Public Sector Information". This communication outlines the basic position of the Commission and indicates that a Directive to achieve a minimum harmonization is under consideration.
The Commission seeks an opinion from stakeholders before deciding on a proposal. Details of where to find the communication and how to reply can be provided on request.

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UPCOMING EVENTS
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Europe's Cultural Policy Challenges 12 February 2024
This conference will take place at the Centre des Conférences Internationals Kléber, Paris and is organised by Friends of Europe and Eurocinema with the support of the European Commission and France¹s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agenda and registration form can be received on request.

TWF seminar on Quotas 18 February 2023
The last TWF seminar on "Quotas" will take place on 18th February in Brussels. More details are available on request.

European Voice TWF Conference March 2002
The Hilton, Brussels. The exact date is yet to be confirmed.
See http://www.european-voice.com/nofrontiers/ for more details and the registration form.

21st Century Literacy Summit 07-08 March 2002
The Bertelsmann Foundation and the AOL Time Warner Foundation will be holding this summit at the Congress Center Axica (next to the Brandenburg Gate) Pariser Platz 3 Berlin, Germany. Please contact carsten.welp@bertelsmann.de (Phone: +49.5241.81-81361) if you are interested in receiving a personal invitation.

5th World Media Economics Conference 09-11 May 2002
General registration has begun for this conference in Turku, Finland. A copy of the programme can be found at the conference website at http://www.tukkk.fi/mediagroup/meconference.htm The conference registration form and hotel reservation information can also be found on this site.

4th Annual TV Meets the Web Seminar 16-17 May 2002
This seminar is to be held in Amsterdam. 'Interactivity' has been chosen as the central theme of this year's seminar. Register at http://www.tvmeetstheweb.com/may2002/registration.php.

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Further information about EPC
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General enquiries:
Angela Mills Wade: t: +44 (0)1865 310 732 f: +44 (0)1865 310 739
e:
angelamills.epc@btinternet.com
Annabella Coldrick: t: +32 2 231 1299 f: +32 2 230 7658
e: annabella.coldrick@europe-analytica.com

Press Enquiries:
Heidi Lambert: t: +32 2 732 5546; f: +32 2 735 3603