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  Francisco Balsemão
  Chairman, EPC
  Chairman and CEO,
  Impresa S.G.P.S.
  Rua Ribeiro Sanches 65
  1200 Lisboa
  Portugal
  Tel: +351 21 392 9782
  Fax: +351 21 392 9788

  Angela Mills Wade
  Executive Director
  c/o Europe Analytica
  26 Avenue Livingstone
  Bte 3
  B-1000 Brussels
  Belgium
  Tel: +322 231 1299

  Press Relations
  Heidi Lambert Communications
  heidilambert@tiscali.co.uk
  Tel:  +44 1245 476 265

EPC NEWS - NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2003
The monthly update on EU media issues

 
MARKET ABUSE
European Securities Committee changes language of directive
The European Securities Committee, comprising representatives of the Member States’ governments and financial services authorities, together with the Commission, agreed the text of the Implementing Directive on Market Abuse on 29th October.

Unfortunately, the text contained changes to the original Directive, particularly to the provisions for financial journalists to which the Parliament have now agreed. This is a disappointing change of position from both the Commission and Parliament which had given assurances that there would be no direct regulation of the way financial journalists could present information or deal with conflicts of interest.

The directive will affect two areas of reporting on financial issues:
  • Articles by journalists who report on recommendations from investment firms and have no financial interest in the recommendations

This provision has practical implications for news media. There will often be insufficient space to include the information about third party disclosures in short news reports in newspapers, and in brief news alerts from news agencies.

  • Articles by journalists who produce investment recommendations or share tips

The text requires the publication of the identity of ALL journalists involved in the preparation of the recommendation, and sets statutory standards for the way in which journalists must write their articles in the area of ‘presentation of recommendations’.

EPC believes that the text of the implementing directive exceeds the EU’s powers to intervene in press freedom and constitutes a dangerous constitutional precedent. Self-regulation remains a clearly mandated option in the directive, and EPC will continue to fight for recognition of this.
 

EPC questions legality of some aspects of directive
EPC has written to Commissioner Bolkestein, telling him that legal advice suggests that article 6.5 of the latest text of the implementing Market Abuse directive is in breach of certain articles of the EC Treaties, as well as article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. EPC has asked directly for his intervention, even at this late stage, to avoid possible future legal action.


Click here for the Market Abuse fact sheet

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Tougher EU enforcement needed to combat piracy

EPC is calling on the European Parliament to ensure that the proposed EU directive on Intellectual Property Rights (EU Enforcement Directive) is given real teeth for both tangible and online content, to fight the widespread counterfeiting and piracy that is seriously undermining Europe¹s content providers. EPC has welcomed the Fourtou report as a sensible basis for tackling piracy and is currently briefing the Council of ministers working group members, particularly on the need for technical protection for online content, as well as tangible goods.

With over 5% of Europe¹s GDP generated through created works and millions of citizens depending on intellectual property protection for their livelihoods, it is essential that legislation is put in place to ensure the future viability of the creative industries. If piracy and counterfeiting is not tackled urgently, jobs will be lost, many creative industries will fail, innovation will be curtailed and the result will be an economically and culturally diminished creative sector.

EPC will also be working on the forthcoming initiative from DG JAI which will deal with minimal criminal sanctions for IPR.

ELECTRONIC COMMERCE
Electronic communications privacy directive now in force.

The EU’s ISDN directive came into force on 31 October. This is the directive which in its earlier form sought to subject the use of cookies on websites to explicit prior consent. Successful lobbying by the EPC meant that this was not the case and that industry self-regulation is adequate to give consumers information about the use of cookies and how they can block them should they wish. The EPC is recommending members to link to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s website: www.allaboutcookies.org.

The directive requires companies to give clear information about the use of cookies on their sites, including from third party ad servers, and to give users clear information about how to reject cookies should they so wish.

The directive also requires companies to seek consent from customers before sending them marketing information via email.

As yet very few Member States have implemented the directive.

ADVERTISING
Nutritional Claims

The Parliament is currently preparing the reports for its debate on the Commission proposal on nutritional claims. The main report will not be ready until the New Year but there will be an orientation debate at the beginning of December.

EPC is writing a position paper outlining its objections to the proposed regulation after meetings with the SANCO cabinet.

Unfair Commercial Practices
There was some concern in October over a questionnaire which was sent to members of the Council by the Italian Presidency which sought to link the Unfair Commercial Practices proposal to the Sales Promotions proposal. This would have been an undesirable outcome as the Sales Promotion regulation seeks to open the European market for Sales Promotion whereas the UCP directive is a regulatory measure.
Byrne at the WFA conference
Commissioner David Byrne gave a positive message about advertising self-regulation when he addressed the 50th anniversary congress of the World Federation of Advertisers in Brussels in October stating that detailed legislation was not always the answer. The Commissioner told delegates that he was looking for a partnership between 'effective and properly enforced codes of practice' and national enforcement bodies armed with statutory backstop enforcement powers.

However, Mr Byrne warned that more needed to be done if the advertising industry was to prove there was no need for legislative regulation of their activities. He also stated that the participation of consumer groups in the self-regulation of advertisers would help to create more trust between public and advertisers.

EPC has written to MEPs working on this directive expressing concern at the retrograde steps being proposed in the draft reports, as these are tending to reintroduce restrictions that had been dismissed during the consultation phase undertaken by the Commission. The EPC’s first letter to MEPs is available on request.
AUDIO-VISUAL & GENERAL MEDIA POLICY
Short reporting
The Council of Europe held a hearing in October with a view to revising its recommendation on short reporting where exclusive rights have been established for major events. In particular, it is examining whether there is a possibility of extending the regime - which currently applies only to broadcasting - to new media and the press.

The EPC raised concerns about the issue of access to events for press reporters and photographers and the fact that a regime designed for broadcasters could not easily be extended to the press, internet and mobile delivery of news without compromising editorial freedom.

EPC, along with others, persuaded the hearing to accept that the current short reporting regime was not appropriate for press media.

For more information on any of the following issues, contact Heidi Lambert Communications
 Tel: +32 2 732 5546
 
 Internet regulation
 Market Abuse
 Tobacco advertising
 Children's advertising
 Jurisdiction and applicable law
 Duty to Trade Fairly
 Sales Promotion
 

 Contacts:
 

 Angela Mills, Director of  EPC: Tel: +44  1865 310 732 angela.mills@epceurope.org
 
 Heidi Lambert Communications: Tel: +322 732 5546 hlc@skynet.be

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