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 The EPC Members' Newsletter

 
Legislative update 73. Month - November 1998

In this issue:

1. Electronic commerce
1.1 Draft Directive approved by Commission
1.2 Council adopts Resolution on consumer aspects of the information society
1.3 ICANN - Initial Board meets EC-POP and takes steps to create advisory committee
1.4 Interim report expected soon on intellectual property aspects of the internet domain name process
1.5 Internet working group meets in Brussels
1.6 Globalisation and the information society - European Parliament's final Resolution delayed
1.7 Electronic signatures - EP committee discussions continue

2. Convergence
2.1 Convergence conference "disappointing"
2.2 Telecoms Council discusses progress on convergence

3. Internet content regulation
3.1 Multiannual Action Plan on promoting the Safe Use of the Internet - Parliament second reading complete
3.2 Communication on the future of content industries expected early 1999
3.3 Commissioner Oreja rules out aid to the written press in the EU

4. Copyright
4.1 Barzanti report progresses slowly
4.2 Austrian Presidency leaves Council discussions incomplete
4.3 European Parliament opinion on WIPO Treaties delayed

5. Advertising
5.1 Commission denies plans to introduce regulations for car advertising
5.2 Parliament committee continues discussion of Larive report
5.3 Greek toy advertising ban - Commission postpones decision on legislative action again
5.4 DGX close to launching study on advertising and children
5.5 Tobacco advertising - legal challenge progresses

6. Audiovisual
6.1 Culture Council - Ministers adopt Resolution on public service broadcasting
6.2 Unfair competition in the broadcasting sector - DGIV holds consultations with private broadcasters and publishers
6.3 Van Miert debates public service broadcasting with European Parliament's Cinema Intergroup
6.4 Council formally adopts Directive on conditional access
6.5 BBC on-line becomes part of the public service remit and considers taking advertising
6.6 France cuts TV advertising for state broadcasters

7. Taxation
7.1 Review of standard rate VAT - proposal imminent
7.2 Revision of annex H - Commission proposal on zero and reduced rates delayed
7.3 Commissioner Monti confirms strategy for taxing electronic commerce

8. General
8.1 Green Paper on access to public information - adoption delayed
8.2 Commission proposal on the legal separation of ownership of cable TV and telecoms services discussed in Parliament
8.3 Data protection - US proposes "safe harbours"
8.4 Commission agrees 1999 work programme
8.5 Commission publishes Communication on job opportunities in the information society
8.6 Environmental policy - initiatives in the forestry and paper sector
8.7 Council of Europe recommendation on pluralism and the media - adoption imminent
8.8 Council of Europe to hold conference on freedom of expression and privacy in 1999
8.9 Council of Europe Committee on Mass Media - EPC observer status denied

Dates for your diary

December 1998

- 1st - 4th - Council of Europe Mass Media Committee, Strasbourg
- 4th - Commission hearing on distortions of competition arising from state aid in the broadcasting sector
- 7th-8th - EP Committee discussion (vote postponed) on the copyright Opinion (Barzanti)
- 9th - European Union On-line User meeting (in cooperation with the Commission and INO2000), London
- 10th - 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - WAN campaign to get newspapers to re-print the Declaration in full on that day (text available on request from EPC)
- 10th - ECCN conference on e-commerce, Brussels
- 14th-18th - WIPO consultation on management of copyright in global networks and private international law aspects of copyright protection, Geneva
- 14th-18th - European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg
- 15th - Advertising Industry Policy Group, Brussels (self-regulation)
- 16th - meeting of Commercial Communications Expert Group, Brussels

January 1999
- 20th January - Vote on the Barzanti report in Committee
- 20th-21st - next EPC meeting, London

1 Electronic commerce

1.1 Draft Directive approved by Commission

The European Commission has adopted its proposal for a Directive to harmonise certain aspects of electronic commerce on 18 November. The proposal establishes a framework for information society service providers, including publishers based on home-country control. It harmonises recognition of on-line contracts, certain aspects of liability, dispute settlement systems, and the provision of commercial communications.

Following a successful campaign by BEUC (Consumers) against the country of origin principle, the proposal allows the following restrictions on the grounds of consumer protection:

Art 3 - internal market clause
- phrase added stating that this clause is without prejudice to existing rules of international law (ie: Rome and Brussels conventions on legal redress in the country of residence);
Art 22(3) - exceptions to the freedom to provide services
- consumer protection has been added to protection of minors and public health as possible grounds for censoring content from another country; such exceptions must be proportional and endorsed a priori by the Commission as compatible with the single market;
Annex II - exceptions to the internal market clause
- includes "contractual obligations concerning consumer contracts", obliging service providers to comply with contractual requirements in the member state of purchase; there are fears that this could also cover commercial communications as there is a link in one of the recitals stating that pre-contractual obligations (including advertising) often constitute contractual obligations;
- includes "unsolicited commercial communications" by email and "any other individual communication" which means Member States could ban this form of direct marketing within their jurisdiction.

These exceptions reduce the effectiveness of the home country control approach, although there is strong support for the proposed provisions on liability and recognition of on-line contracts. This will formally be discussed for the first time at an internal market working group on 18 December.

The EPC is cooperating with other interest groups to develop a strategy with regard to the European Parliament and the Council in preparation for the first reading stage.

Provisional text available on request as a word doc in French or English.

1.2 Council adopts Resolution on consumer aspects of the information society
As expected, the Consumer Council adopted the Resolution proposed by the Austrian Presidency on consumer protection in the information society at its meeting on 3 November.

The Resolution invites the Commission to identify loopholes in legislation relating to consumer protection in the information society and to identify possible areas where additional action may be necessary. The Commission is also asked to give full consideration of consumer protection in all future initiatives in this field.

Member States undertake to coordinate their positions in international fora (the OECD in particular) drawing on the points highlighted in the Resolution.

The European Commission has annexed a declaration stating that the Resolution should be without prejudice to existing or future legislation in which country of origin control is harmonised (as in e-commerce directive)

1.3 ICANN - Initial Board meets EC-POP and takes steps to create advisory committee
In advance of the formal hand-over of IANA to the newly created ICANN, DGXIII hosted a meeting in Brussels between the EC Panel of Participants and the initial board of ICANN led by its Chairman, Mrs. Esther Dyson. Full results available on the Internet at: http://www.ispo.cec.be/eif/dns/wpmeet3.html

In addition, expressions of interest in membership of the advisory committee can be found/made on the Internet at: http://www.icann.org/icann-pr25nov98.html.

1.4 Interim report expected soon on intellectual property aspects of the Internet Domain Name process
The comment period on the second phase of the WIPO consultation came to a close on 6 November. All written submissions will be available for consultation on the dedicated website (http://wipo2.wipo.int/).

WIPO will collate the results of the first two consultations and the regional meetings as part of an interim report expected in mid-December. This report will take the form of a third invitation to comment and will also be posted on the website.

1.5 Internet working group meets in Brussels 26 November
Member State representatives updated the Commission, MEPs and industry on national developments to promote safe use of the Internet. DG XV presented proposals their on e-commerce. Further details available on request.

1.6 Globalisation and the information society - European Parliament's final Resolution delayed
The Parliament's vote on the Commission's Communication has been postponed until the December plenary session.

1.7 Electronic signatures - EP committee discussions continue
The Legal Affairs Committee has completed its discussion of Wolfgang Ullmann's (D, V) draft report before the vote on 7 December. His draft text supports the use of "electronic" rather than "digital" signatures on the grounds that this would be more technology neutral and not exclude future developments in this field. He also calls for the proposed electronic signatures committee to consult regularly with industry, user and consumer groups. The draft report also proposes to extend the scope to include the use of signatures in closed networks and to strengthen the horizontal application of EU data protection rules.

The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has adopted an opinion drafted by Michael Tappin (UK, PES) which broadly reflects the views of the lead committee. The report by Pierre Pradier (F, ARE) adopted by the Civil Liberties Committee echoes the Tappin report and calls for strong data protection measures and a clear, transparent structure for the regulation of certification authorities.

2 Convergence

2.1 Convergence conference "disappointing"

In spite of some controversial contributions from the speakers, the Commission has described the outcome of the recent Austrian Presidency conference as disappointing. The majority of participants represented governments, rather than business, and largely projected the cautious views already voiced at ministerial level.

The notion of separating content from carriage is now widely accepted but no real progress is expected before the Commission publishes its follow-up to the second consultation on their convergence green paper.

2.2 Telecoms Council discusses progress on convergence dossier
The Council dealt only briefly with convergence. The Austrian Presidency gave an up-beat briefing on its conference "Coping with Convergence", while Commissioner Bangemann updated Ministers on progress towards a follow-up. The Commission now expects to present its proposals during the first quarter of 1999.

3 Internet content regulation

3.1 Multiannual Action Plan on promoting the Safe Use of the Internet - Parliament second reading complete

Parliament has completed its second reading, proposing 3 amendments to the Council common position. Parliament called for a system of quality labels to be developed for Internet sites and for measures to promote higher computer ownership in the EU.

Early indications are that the Commission will accept these amendments and that the liability provisions proposed in the draft Directive on e-commerce will apply. The Council hopes to adopt the Action Plan before the end of the year for implementation in early 1999.

3.2 Communication on the future of content industries expected early 1999
The Commission Communication planned by DGXIII on the future of content has entered interservice consultation and is due for adoption by Commissioners in February/March.

The Communication is expected to reflect results of the consultation which revealed support for a follow-on programme to INFO2000 and the creation of a European Content Forum bringing together providers to focus on the strategic development of the sector. Recurring themes such as VAT and piracy, convergence and e-commerce are also likely to be covered.

3.3 Commissioner Oreja rules out aid to the written press in the EU
In response to a written question from Nikitas Kaklamanis MEP, Commissioner Oreja has stated that any assistance towards the production costs of national newspapers and periodicals should be left to the Member States. He added that the subsidiarity principle would prevent the Commission granting financial aid to the sector.

Question & reply available on request.

4 Copyright

4.1 Barzanti report progresses slowly

At the request of the committee, the Rapporteur Mr Barzanti (I, PES) indicated his opinion on the amendments, unashamedly favouring his own amendments over others. His position remains largely unchanged and supportive of rightholders' interests. He dismissed all amendments tabled by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and strongly criticised MEPs for tabling amendments on liability. With the support of the Commission, Barzanti has declared inadmissible all amendments which are incompatible with the WIPO Treaties. However, some MEPs refused to be corralled into such a position and, led by Phillip Whitehead (UK, PES), they have delayed the vote until 20 January in order to allow the Secretariat to draw up a voting list which gives a wide range of amendments a better chance. Unless the Parliament gets this report through plenary by April 99 at the latest, the elections will interrupt progress forcing a totally new report after the elections.

4.2 Austrian Presidency leaves Council discussions incomplete
Contrary to expectations, the draft Directive on copyright and neighbouring rights was not discussed at the latest meeting of the Council's working group on intellectual property on 2-3 December. There will be no further working groups under the Austrian Presidency. The Commission has advocated a go-slow policy on the grounds that the substance of Council's discussions depend on the European Parliament's first reading.

Discussions among national experts therefore remain as they were end-September - ie: a second read through has reached Article 5(3) but no further and Member States still remain divided on the list of exceptions.

Meetings will restart under the German Presidency in January. The in-coming Presidency has indicated that it will try to agree a common position in time for the Internal Market Council in June 1999. However, it is widely believed that this will not be possible given the amount of work still to be done at working group level.

4.3 European Parliament opinion on WIPO Treaties delayed
The Legal Affairs Committee has formally agreed to delay the adoption of its report drafted by Karl Habsburg-Lothringen (A, EPP). Further work has been postponed until the Council considers the Commission's proposal for a Decision and delivers a formal request for Parliament's assent. The Culture Committee has already adopted its opinion drafted by Hugh Kerr (UK, PES) which endorses the provisions of the Treaties and calls on the Commission to keep the Parliament fully informed of developments in future WIPO negotiations.

5 Advertising

5.1 Commission denies plans to introduce regulations for car advertising

During the November plenary session of the European Parliament, Commissioner Van Miert reiterated the Commission's denial that it intends to restrict the advertising of cars and motorcycles. Speaking in reply to a question from Otto von Habsburg MEP, Van Miert said that an EU-wide voluntary code would be the strongest initiative the Commission would consider at the present time. Question & reply available on request.

5.2 Parliament committee continues discussion of Larive report
Parliament's Rapporteur, Jessica Larive (NL, ELDR) has now formally presented her draft report to the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Larive is broadly supportive of the Commission's framework, in particular of single market principles (country of origin, proportionality etc) and of mutual recognition. Larive also makes recommendations for additional action. These include:

- change from 6-monthly to 3-monthly review of infringement cases by the Commission;
- automatic referral of cases to the Court of First Instance if the Commission fails to reach a decision on legal action;
- introduction of clear time-limits for Article 169 procedures (infringements);
- participation by industry and consumer representatives in the expert group;
- clarification of "cultural or social specificity" criteria in the proposed assessment methodology (to avoid it being used as a smokescreen for protectionist measures).

The Commission has welcomed the report and has undertaken to discuss broadening the membership of the expert group at the group's next meeting on 16 December. Larive's report is scheduled for final adoption at the January plenary session.

Larive has welcomed the opinion drafted by A–overos Trias de Bes (ES,EPP) for the Legal Affairs Committee. Adopted in the form of a letter, the opinion calls on the Commission to speed up its work in commercial communications. Calls for legislative proposals included in an earlier draft were rejected by the committee.

Commissioner Mario Monti briefly reported on the latest developments in the Expert Group to Ministers at the Internal Market Council on 9 November.

5.3 Greek toy advertising ban - Commission again postpones decision on legislative action
Chefs de Cabinet met end-November for their six-monthly review of infringement cases. Although the case against the Greek ban on toy advertising was on the agenda for discussion, further action was postponed without debate to a future meeting.

Officially, the next review is scheduled for June 1999 but officials have indicated that this case is likely to be raised again in the interim. In the meantime, DGXV plans to pursue bilateral talks with a view to reaching an amicable settlement and intends to invite the Greek authorities for further discussions shortly.

A recent study by academics at Bonn University has shown that most children understand the purpose of advertising by the age of 6 years and quickly learn to identify misleading claims about advertised products. This study has been circulated to Commissioners and is available on request to EPC members.

5.4 DGX close to launching study on advertising and children
DGX is currently drawing up terms of reference for its planned external study on the effects of advertising on children. The call for tender is likely to be published in December, with work beginning mid-1999.

5.5 Tobacco advertising - legal challenge progresses
The legal challenge mounted by the German Federal Government calling for the annulment of the EU Directive banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship was formally presented to Member State Permanent Representatives on 2 December. A notice explaining the legal arguments is expected to be published in the Official Journal shortly.

Meanwhile, four companies have joined the campaign to overturn the Directive. Salamander, Camel, Una Film, Alma Media and Davidoff have launched cases in the Court of First Instance. The case has been brought on the grounds that the EU has exceeded its competence and that the Directive infringes the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity.

In the UK, a first hearing of the judicial review was held on 30 November. A ruling on the call for leave to appeal to the European Court of Justice from the UK Tobacco Manufacturers' Association was postponed. The judge believed that the case involved questions of principle as well as legal issues and announced his intention to deliver his judgements at a later date after further reflection.

In Germany, the Green Party has reopened discussions with in the new coalition government on the Federal Republic's official position. The Greens are understood to favour closing proceedings. The Council's Legal Service will wait for Germany to adopt a definitive stance before beginning work on its defence in the hope that Germany will drop its challenge. The Council is obliged to lodge its statement of defence with the ECJ by 8 January 1999.

6 Audiovisual

6.1 Culture Council - Ministers adopt Resolution on public service broadcasting

The latest Culture Council on 17 November saw the adoption of a Resolution on public service broadcasting. As expected, the text reiterated the centrality of Member States in determining how their respective public service broadcasters (PSBs) are funded.

Member States reaffirmed that Treaty of Rome should be without prejudice to their overall competence to draw up the remit of PSBs and provide a level of funding necessary to fulfil that remit. The Resolution implicitly rejects any guidance from the EU on what activities should constitute a public service. Member States acknowledge that funding should not affect competition within the EU but only insofar as it would be "contrary to the common interest". A clause supporting the principle of financial transparency between public service and commercial activities was removed from the final text. Member States also stated that PSBs should still be able to exploit new technologies to deliver programming.

At the meeting, Germany, France and Italy reiterated their belief that EU has no role to play in the regulation of PSBs.

6.2 Unfair competition in the broadcasting sector - DGIV plans consultations with private broadcasters
DGIV held an open consultation with private broadcasters on the morning of 4 December. DGIV had distributed discussion points for the consultation focusing on competition, public service remit and financing of public broadcasting.

Although DGIV officials had indicated that the consultation was limited ostensibly to broadcasting the Commission was very struck by presentations from EPC members on the impact of state funding of public broadcasters on the Internet market that they declared they would be willing to consider complaints from the publishing sector and invited us to submit a formal complaint as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Commissioner Van Miert has confirmed that DGIV will abandon plans to develop guidelines for the sector, but that public television will not be shielded from competition rules.

Press release from EPC and the Ad Hoc Alliance is available on request.

6.3 Van Miert debates public service broadcasting with European Parliament's Cinema Intergroup
Speaking at a well-attended meeting in Strasbourg, Commissioner Van Miert strongly defended DGIV's examination of state aids and the broadcasting sector. He reiterated that the CFI ruling and the outstanding complaints made the financing of PSBs a European issue and obliged the Commission to act. Van Miert regretted Member States' opposition to guidelines but said that his would be his favoured approach.

While recognising that it is up to Member States to decide how to fund their PSBs, Van Miert said that funding must be transparent. Jean-Bernard Munch of the EBU conceded support for guidelines and transparent accounting for "new areas". But Van Miert was scathing of PSBs' tactics and accused them of an inconsistent position. In his view, they were lobbying hard at national level to kill off the guidelines altogether.

Claudine Ripert-Landler of Canal+ was joined by several MEPs in her call for a clearer definition of public and commercial services. She also endorsed transparent accounting and the application of competition rules to prevent cross-subsidisation.

Although MEPs reiterated the importance of public broadcasting to culture and democracy, they were broadly receptive to the notion of guidelines but expressed concern that a strict application of competition rules could jeopardise quality. In particular, Barzanti (I, PES) felt that competition should go hand-in-hand with pluralism and that common rules of media ownership could be a complementary means of regulating this "atypical" sector.

6.4 Council formally adopts Directive on conditional access
The Internal Market Council formally adopted the Directive on the legal protection of conditional access service at its meeting on 9 November. The Directive bans the manufacture, sale, marketing of illicit devices, as well as their installation and maintenance. Member States must comply with the provisions of the Directive within 18 months. The Commission will report on implementation within 3 years of compliance.

Text available on request as word doc.

6.5 BBC on-line becomes part of the public service remit and considers taking advertising
Following its one-year pilot programme, BBC on-line has been officially approved by the UK government as a third broadcast medium under the BBC's public service remit. The BBC plans to develop the service and relaunch new services and content in Spring 1999. Meanwhile, Parliament's media committee has come out in support of more commercialisation of BBC services (such as sports broadcasts and 24 hr news) and the raising of revenue through advertising. Press releases available on request.

6.6 France cuts TV advertising for state broadcasters
The French government has announced a cut in advertising permitted on public television from 12 minutes per hour to 5 minutes. The shortfall in revenue will be made up by state funding rather than increases in the licence fee. The government plans to cut costs by restructuring state television into a single corporation and generating revenue from new services.

7 Taxation

7.1 Review of standard rate VAT - proposal imminent

The European Commission is expected to bring forward a proposal shortly on the standard rate of tax to apply from 1 January 1999. The Commission is understood to favour proposing a band of 16%-25% for 2 years until 2001. The current Directive was adopted in December 1996 and reconfirmed a minimum rate of VAT at 15% after the Council failed to agree on a maximum rate. Council is likely to maintain its opposition to setting a maximum rate.

7.2 Revision of annex H - Commission proposal on zero and reduced rates delayed
Work on the long-awaited revision of goods and services subject to reduced and zero VAT rates, such as the press, will continue into the New Year. A proposal to revise the Sixth VAT Directive is now expected in around Easter 1999.

7.3 Commissioner Monti confirms strategy for taxing electronic commerce
In response to a written question from Parliament, Mario Monti confirmed that the Commission will continue its work, in consultation with Member States, on adapting the VAT system to cope with developments in electronic commerce. Commissioner Monti also pledged that the Commission will continue to contribute to the international debate on the basis of guidelines proposed for the OECD conference on e-commerce in Ottawa.

Question & reply available on request.

8 General

8.1 Green Paper on access to public information - adoption delayed again

The draft Green Paper exploring ways to increase access to public sector information remains in interservice consultation after political concerns were raised by Cabinets over the DGXIII text. Sections are currently being redrafted to reflect more the European dimension of the issue and reinforce the economic factors involved. It is hoped that a definitive text will be adopted before the Christmas recess.

8.2 Commission proposal on the legal separation of ownership of cable TV and telecoms services discussed in Parliament
The European Parliament Committee on Economic & Monetary Affairs has begun deliberations on the report by Graham Watson MEP (UK, ELDR). The Rapporteur is broadly supportive of the proposal but urges the Commission to consider structural as well as legal separation of ownership to prevent all anti-competitive cross-subsidy occurring. The draft report also calls on the Commission to monitor closely the granting of radio frequency licences in the market.

The Commission has indicated its support for the draft report. It agrees that legal separation should be a first step and proposes to deal with remaining problems in Member States on a case-by-case basis in the light of convergence issues.

The report is scheduled for adoption at the December or January plenary session.

8.3 Data protection - US proposes "safe harbours"
The US Department of Commerce has drawn up a "safe harbour" policy based on 7 key principles for US companies engaged in the transfer of data from the EU to the US. Adherence would be voluntary and would include access to an accelerated dispute settlement procedure.

Initial reactions from Member States have been mixed and some remain pessimistic that outstanding problems can be resolved before end-1998. Meanwhile, Director General of DGXV, John Mogg, will travel to Washington DC in early December for further talks with David Aaron, US Under-Secretary of State. The "safe harbour" proposal can be found on the Internet at http://www.ita.doc.gov/ecom/menu.htm

8.4 Commission agrees 1999 work programme
The European Commission has drawn up its legislative programme for the coming year. The focus will remain on implementing the Amsterdam Treaty and ensuring a successful launch of Economic and Monetary Union. Commitments have been made to continuing reform of the VAT system, reviewing environmental policy, and improving competition policy. The Commission has also undertaken to strengthen consumer dialogue in all areas and promote the development of the information society. Unfulfilled commitments from 1998 will be carried over to 1999. The work programme can be consulted on the Internet at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/off/work/1999/index_en.htm

8.5 Commission publishes Communication on job opportunities in the information society
As part of the follow-up to the Jobs Summit in Luxembourg in November 1997, the European Commission has a Communication on employment prospects in the information society. The report recognises the potential of the sector for employment and calls for EU action in key areas to maximise the benefits of growth in information society. The report also calls on Member States to submit a national IS strategy to the Commission by June 1999 and ensure swift implementation of IS-related Directives to provide a framework within which the enterprise culture to thrive.

The Commission will initiate an on-line consultation and report on progress at the Helsinki European Council in December 1999.

8.6 Environmental policy - initiatives in the forestry and paper sector
The last month has seen a number of environmental initiatives of interest to the publishing sector:

- Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has begun consultations on its draft Voluntary Agreement on producer responsibility;
- Ministers at the Industry Council adopted conclusions on the Commission Communication on the Competitiveness of Recycling Industries inviting the Commission to proceed with the creation of the proposed Recycling Forum;
- the European Commission has published a Communication drafted by DGVI entitled "A Forestry Strategy for the European Union" in which the Commission undertakes to examine the need for complementary and voluntary EU measures on forest certification and product labelling.

8.7 Council of Europe recommendation on pluralism and the media - adoption imminent
The Council of Europe's Steering Committee on Mass Media agreed on the final text of the non-legally binding Recommendation at its recent meeting in Strasbourg (text available on request). Primarily aimed at emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Recommendation supports measures to ensure pluralism, editorial independence and equal access. Although the worst aspects of earlier drafts have been moved from the main body of the Resolution to an appendix, it goes further than we would accept. Recommendations include:

- use of audience share as an appropriate means of assessing media concentration, and suggests suitable thresholds but falls short of advocating upper limits;
- action against vertical integration of media companies and further studies on the impact of new technologies on media concentration;
- an on-going debate on the future of public service broadcasting, including allowing public broadcasters to raise funds commercially and monitoring their transition in the digital age;

The Recommendation will be formally adopted by the Committee on Ministers in January 1999.

Final text available on request as a word doc.

8.8 Council of Europe to hold conference on freedom of expression and privacy in 1999
This conference is planned by the Committee on Mass Media in October 1999. The committee's working groups will begin work on the programme in March/April and the secretariat will be suggesting early consultation with EPC.

8.9 Council of Europe Committee on Mass Media - EPC observer status denied
The Steering Committee on Mass Media has refused to grant full observer status to all organisations which applied in the latest round (as well as the EPC this also included the European Newspaper Publishers' Association and MŽdecins sans Frontires). The Committee raised concerns about the potential impact on the members' freedom to discuss issues openly! Nevertheless, the Committee has invited the EPC to participate actively in the work of its sub-committees.

Documents available on request

European Commission
Draft Directive on electronic commerce
- provisional version of proposal (word doc.)

Job opportunities in the information society
- Commission communication

A Forestry Strategy for the European Union
- Commission Communication

European Parliament
Draft Directive on copyright (first reading - codecision)
Legal Affairs Committee (lead) - draft report & amendments (Barzanti)
Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee - adopted opinion (Cassidy)
Culture Committee - adopted opinion (Gunther)
- Environment Committee - adopted opinion (Whitehead)

WIPO Treaties (consultation)
- Legal Affairs Committee - draft report (Habsburg-Lothrigen)
Culture Committee - adopted opinion (Kerr)

Communication "Globalisation and the Information Society" (consultation)
draft report (Malerba)

Multiannual action plan to promote the safe use of the Internet
(second reading - codecision)
- European Parliament second reading resolution (based on Schmid report)

Commission Communication on commercial communications in the single market (consultation)
- Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee - draft report and amendments (Larive)
- Legal Affairs Committee - adopted opinion in the form of a letter
- Culture Committee - adopted opinion in the form of a letter

Draft Directive on a European framework for electronic signatures (first reading)
- Legal Affairs Committee - draft Report (Ullmann)
- Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee and Civil Liberties Committee - adopted opinion (Tappin)
- Civil Liberties Committee - adopted opinion (Pradier)

Draft Commission Directive to ensure that telecommunications networks and cable TV networks owned by a single operator are separate legal entities
- Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee - draft report and amendments (Watson)

Council
- Council Resolution on the consumer dimension of the information society
- Council Resolution on public service broadcasting
- Council Conclusions on the competitiveness of recycling industries

Others
European Parliament and Council Directive on the legal protection of services based on, or consisting of, conditional access
- definitive text of adopted Directive

EPC Documents
- latest statements from the Ad Hoc Alliance against unfair competition in the broadcasting and new services markets

Others
WIPO - draft database Treaty
- Consultation documents

CEPI - Towards a European Agreement on the Recovery of Paper and Board Products
- draft paper on producer responsibility

Bonn University study on advertising and children
- results of academic survey and statistical data

Council of Europe Recommendation on measures to promote media pluralism
- text endorsed by the Steering Committee on Mass Media, forwarded to the Committee of Ministers for final adoption


For further information please contact:
General Enquiries: Angela Mills
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 310 732 
Facsimile: +44 (0)1865 310 739 
Press Enquiries: Heidi Lambert 
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