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Europe's publishers speak out on today's decision on controversial TV Without Frontiers Directive

Angela Mills Wade, EPC Executive Director is available for comment on Tel: +44 1865 310 732

Controversial proposals to extend the scope of the Television without Frontiers Directive to all new audiovisual media services regardless of their method of transmission are due to be announced later today by Commissioner Reding to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Earlier fears by the European Publishers Council that new content rules for audiovisual media content could apply to online versions of their newspapers and magazines containing video-clips seem to have been allayed by explicit exclusion of these services in an important Recital.

Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director of the European Publishers Council said today : "The EPC welcomes the important recognition by the Commission of the need to keep the press clear of media-specific regulation, whether in print or online. We will be calling on the Parliament to confirm that online versions of newspapers and magazines will not fall within the scope of this Directive in line with this crucial Recital".

Another important recital was welcomed by the EPC which carves out further many text and image based websites saying that the definition of "audiovisual media service" also excludes all services not intended for the distribution of audiovisual content, i.e. "where any audiovisual content is merely incidental to the service and not its principal purpose".

However, as websites develop and enhance their content services with video over the next few years, the EPC in line with the online community more generally fears inevitably there will be confusion as to what is or is not within scope for many information society services, who are already covered by the E-Commerce directive and other horizontal Community directives.

The EPC also welcomes the introduction by the Commission of an important new tool in news provision in the information society age, through a new right to short news reports.

Angela Mills Wade said: "We welcome the Commission's recognition of the need to safeguard the fundamental freedom to receive information and to ensure that the interests of viewers in the European Union are fully and properly protected so that, those exercising exclusive rights concerning an event of public interest should grant other broadcasters and their intermediaries the right to use short extracts for the purposes of general news programming".

Once the full text is made available, the EPC will be sending out a further briefing on the impact of the proposals on EPC members many of whom also have television interests as well as press. EPC supports further liberalisation of the regulatory framework for commercial television in order to boost the competitiveness of Europe's media. EPC has been hoping for a greater role for self-regulation in the new directive but fears that consumerist and health related lobbies have won major concessions in the area of strict advertising content regulation as the price for their approval for the country of origin principle and reductions in quantitative restrictions of advertising on TV, leaving no room for meaningful advertising self-regulation.

For further information, contact Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265 or Angela Mills Wade on Tel: +44 1865 310 732.