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Europe's publishers seek firm commitment from Commissioner on press freedoms and other key media policy issues

1 December 2006

Commissioner Viviane Reding will join all the main representatives of Europe’s publishing organisations in Brussels on 7 December to thrash out key media policy issues that will have a significant impact on the media industry, including the controversial Audiovisual Media Services (formerly TVWF) directive, copyright, press freedoms, access to information, advertising restrictions and VAT. The groups represent newspaper, magazine, book, journal, directory and database publishers.

The publishing organisations are hoping to secure the support of Commissioner Reding for specific measures that will encourage a thriving information society and protect the fundamental freedom of the press, currently under threat in several draft regulations/directives. The publishing organisations will ask Mrs Reding for her views in several areas including:

On AMS (European Parliament due to vote in December Plenary, First Reading):

"Would the Commissioner agree that allowing one member state to decide whether another country’s audiovisual media, or the advertising which supports its production, meets their own version of "general public interest" or their national interpretation of what is offensive…will stifle the freedom of expression? Is there any room for derogation from the principle of the country of origin?"

Would the Commissioner also agree that the press should be clearly excluded from the scope of the Directive in Article One in order to protect the freedom of the press?

On Advertising and Editorial Integrity:

"How can further legal bans and restrictions be avoided? What can be done to ensure the separation of advertising and editorial content? And what can be done to ensure fair competition between all players in the digital world, including search engines and ISPs?"

On Content Online (current work on content online directive):

"In view of the revision of the copyright framework at EU level, what can be done to ensure that publishers’ businesses and investments will not be undermined by the introduction of new or broader exceptions to copyright and increasing piracy on their content?"

On VAT (future revision of VAT directive):

"Would the Commissioner be open to analyse further the need for society (users) to benefit from lower VAT rates for online content whilst ensuring that zero, super reduced and reduced VAT rate on printed products is not questioned?"

On Freedom of expression (ROME II. Brussels I; AMS):

"Freedom of expression is put under pressure when new EU initiatives do not sufficiently protect this fundamental right. How could the Commission prevent such a risk of interference?"

On the European digital library project:

How can the European Digital Library initiative support a strong European market for electronic publications be they books, newspapers, magazines and databases?

On Access to information (electronic communications and PSI directive):

"How can access to information under fair, transparent and non-discriminatory conditions, can be granted to publishers?"

Following on from a successful Publishers Forum last year, the publishers are expecting a fruitful dialogue and some firm decisions that will be reflected in current and future policy decisions by the European Union.

A news release on the outcome of the roundtable will be issued following the event.

For more information, please contact press officer Heidi Lambert on Tel: + 44 1245 476 265 or one of the organisers below.

Note to editors

The organisers:

  • European Association of Directory and Database Publishers (EADP)
    Lucile Vareine: +32 2 656 30 60
  • European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA)
    Valtteri Niiranen: +32 2 551 01 90
  • European Publishers Council (EPC)
    Angela Mills Wade: + 44 1865 310 732
  • European Federation of Magazine Publishers (FAEP)
    David Mahon: +32 2 536 06 02
  • Federation of European Publishers (FEP)
    Ann Bergman-Tahon: +32 2 770 11 10