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EPC media alerts: September / October 2006

Your monthly EU media issues update direct from Europe's leading publishers

Dates for the diary

August 2006 - Data Retention legislation comes into force
28th August - EP IMCO committee deadline for TVWF amendments
28th August - EP CULT
11th September - EP ECON committee draft opinion
11-12th September - EP ITRE committee first debate of TVWF amendments
13-14th September - EP IMCO committee consideration of TVWF amendments
14th September - EP ECON committee deadline for amendments
18th September - EP CULT committee deadline for TVWF amendments
18-19th September - EPC's Corporate Affairs Group meeting
25th September - EP ITRE committee second debate of TVWF amendments
25th September - .EP IMCO committee to adopt TVWF report
27th September - Euro Effies award ceremony, Brussels
2nd October - EP ECON committee discussion on TVWF amendments
3rd October - EP ECON committee adoption of TVWF amendments
3-4th October - EP ITRE committee to adopt TVWF
4-5th October - European Patent Office conference, Portugal
11-12th October - Committee of Regions plenary vote on TVWF
16-17th October - EPC CEO Members Meeting, Berlin
23rd October - .CULT committee to adopt TVWF report
17th October - EP seminar, "A coherent legal regime for EU media"
23-24th October - Commission conference, International Transfers of Personal Data
27-28th October 2006 - "i2010 - Towards a Ubiquitous European Information Society", Espoo, Finland, Presidency conference
11-14th December - EP Plenary adoption of TVWF
7th December - Reding Round Table with Publishers' trade organisations
14-16th February - Conference on the digitisation of cultural heritage, Berlin
9-11th May - Conference, Strengthening User Trust in Media Services, Leipzig

Key issues of the month

TVWF: CULT committee publishes draft report (detailed TVWF fact sheet available on request)

Ruth Hieronymi, the Parliament's Culture committee Rapporteur for the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, has presented her report to the Culture Committee. With regard to the EPC's position on the exclusion of the press Mrs Hieronymi amended Article 1 (Amendment 33 - ARTICLE 1, PARAGRAPH 2) to that effect stating ‘audiovisual media service' means a service provided under the editorial responsibility of a media service provider as defined by Articles 49 and 50 of the Treaty the principal purpose of which is the provision of programmes consisting of moving images with or without sound, in order to inform, entertain or educate, to the general public by electronic communications networks within the meaning of Article 2(a) of Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

She broadly follows the Commission line on issues of scope and Country of Origin but calls for the capacity for member states to reject non-linear programming on a 'fast track' basis if it is offensive to human dignity or undermines the protection of minors. She makes three amendments to the Commission text on self-regulation and co-regulation including an extension to recital 25, which states that self and co-reg shold be used in accordance with what is considered to be acceptable in the Member States, NOT the EU.

On product placement, she says:

  • It may only take place in fictional and sports programmes;
  • Editorial independence cannot be affected;
  • No undue prominence;
  • Product Placement to be signalled at start, end and every 20 minutes in the programme
  • No Product Placement in news, current affairs, religious and children's programmes

An additional article is included in the text (3j) which stipulates that product refs cannot restrict journalistic freedom, must not be given undue prominence and the viewer must be informed of their presence. The Member States are given the power to decide how this rule must be implemented. Amendment 62 - ARTICLE 1, PARAGRAPH 6 Article 3j (new) paragraph 4 (Directive 89/552/EEC) The use of product references in audiovisual media services must meet the following conditions: a) It must not be linked to a restriction of journalistic or artistic freedom of presentation. b) Where, in using product references for editorial reasons, it is necessary to mention or present goods, services, names, trade marks or activities of the producer of a product or provider of a service, this must be done without giving them special prominence. c) No payment or similar consideration must be made for the presentation. d) The viewer shall be informed about the use of product references. The precise rules, including a de minimis threshold, shall be determined by the Member States. The 35-minute rule is reduced to 30 minutes whilst isolated spots are permitted across Europe in sports programmes. Whether they can be incorporated into other programming is at the discretion of the Member State.

Digital Libraries: Commission makes recommendation

In a Recommendation on digitisation and digital preservation published on 24th August, the European Commission calls on Member State to set up the European Digital Library encouraging them to act in various areas, ranging from copyright questions to the systematic preservation of digital content. Commissioner Reding stated in a press release that the ‘aim is to arrive at a real European digital library, a multilingual access point to Europe's digital cultural resources'. According to the Commission a common effort is necessary to speed up the digitisation and online accessibility of the material in order to arrive at the necessary critical mass. The Commission Recommendation is expected to contribute to coordinated action by Member States in the areas of the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation and will avoid duplication of such efforts in the Member States. The Commission also hopes that a combined effort in the Member States based on clear quantitative targets will trigger private investments in digitisation technologies and applications. Furthermore coordinated action will lead to economies of scale in implementing test beds, to the combining of scattered know-how and to the sharing of best practices in digitisation and digital preservation. Other issues addressed in the Recommendation include the interoperability of digital collections between Member States, a common multilingual access point, and licensing of material under copyright for online use. The Commission has also earmarked financial contributions to realise this initiative in the EU's Research & Development programmes and in the eContentplus programme. The Commission will co-finance amongst other things a network of centres of competence on digitisation and digital preservation.

TVWF/AMS

UK launches consultation

The UK government has launched consultation of industry and other stakeholders on TVWF with a deadline of 8 September for responses.

The Paper of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is available at http://www.culture.gov.uk.

Germans support children's ad ban in new proposal

Germany has thrown its hat into the ring with a new proposal on AMS, discussed along with the Finnish proposal at the last working group at the end of July.

It appears that Germany is proposing a much more liberal approach to the quantitative advertising rules, such as allowing isolated spots, deleting the 35 minute rule and the hourly limit. On the restrictive side, they propose there should be no advertising in Children's Programmes. On self-regulation they propose a much more positive approach saying that "Member States shall promote self-regulatory and co-regulatory regimes".

The full text is available on request.

Reding congratulates Europe's media on European content

According to a Commission news release, European works' share of TV broadcasting time is now stable at over 60%.

Apparently, Europe's television broadcasters on average devote over 60% of their programming time to European works and over 30% to works by independent European producer. Broadcasters in the new member states are showing as much home-grown content as the EU-15.

Commissioner Reding attributes much of this success to measures promoted in the TVWF directive.

She says, "This is proof of the high quality of Europe's home-grown audiovisual content and of the vitality of an audiovisual industry that draw supon Europe's rich cultural diversity. I am firmly convinced that new media services such as mobile TV and video-on-demand will stimulate and enhance the market for rich European content offers even further."

The EU-wide average broadcasting time for European works was 65.18% in 2003 and 63.32% in 2004. The Commission report also shows that in the medium term, the broadcasting of European works has stabilised at above 60%. Average transmission times varied between 52.75% in Ireland and 86.20% in Denmark in 2003 and between 49.12% in the Czech Republic and 86.33% in Denmark in 2004. These shares were comparable with those recorded for the previous reporting period 2001-2002.

http://ec.europa.eu/comm/avpolicy/reg/tvwf/implementation/promotion/index_en.htm

Information society

Content online paper published by Commission

Another October deadline is fast approaching as DG INFSO has published its Content Online discussion paper in preparation for a Communication on Content online to be adopted by the European Commission at the end of this year. The deadline for comments is 13 October.

"Online publishing" has been defined as creative content and services.

The documents questions

  • How should EU policy be designed so as to stimulate the creation and legal distribution of creative online content and services in Europe?
    What are the obstacles to the implementation of successful new business models?
  • How can public policy promote a satisfactory degree of cultural and linguistic diversity in online content creation and circulation?
  • How can European technologies and devices be successful in creative online content markets?

The Communication will explore added-value actions that could be taken at European level including legislation, promotion of best practices and financial support, to improve the competitiveness of the European online content production and distribution industry.

It will take into account the results of the online creativity conference organised by the Finnish Presidency on 13 - 14 July 2023 (Livestream of the conference is available at http://www.creativityonline.fi) and of the conference "Content for competitiveness" organised by the Austrian Presidency on 2 - 3 March 2006.

Conference investigates Strengthening User Trust in Media Services

The German Presidency is holding a conference next year on 9-11 May in Leipzig, to debate the need for structures to help younger users find high-quality, trustworthy media content - particularly in the Internet.

Together with representatives of European media companies, governments and associations, the congress will work at achieving two main goals: to establish an international network promoting trustworthy, qualitative and unrestricted Internet content, and secondly, to initiate a European discussion of quality assurance measures used by self- and co-regulatory media providers. The organizer of the congress is the association Medientreffpunkt Mitteldeutschland e.V.

Regulation

Commission report gives greenlight to co-regulation

Commissioned by the European Commission, the Hans Bredow Institut has published its final conclusions on co-regulation in the EU. The full text can be viewed at: http://ec.europa.eu.

According to the study, "there is no reason to assume that co-regulatory models as defined within this study are generally insufficient to implement European directives (neither with regard to the effectiveness of regulation nor legal requirements). The assessment undertaken in this study shows that several co-regulatory systems safeguard the respective policy objectives effectively...There is no reason to believe that some media services are not appropriate for co-regulation. Therefore, regarding audiovisual media services, traditional broadcasting as well as non-linear services, are in principle open to alternative forms of regulation. However, the findings suggest, that different models or combinations of instruments might be appropriate for different types of media. The press is in EU Member States traditionally - and partly due to specific constitutional protection - predominantly not governed by co-regulatory frameworks but subject to general laws and court procedures on the one hand and pure self-regulation on the other."

MEP plans seminar on freedom of speech

On behalf of the ALDE group, Diana Wallis, MEP is holding a seminar on 'A coherent legal regime for EU media - Balancing liberties. The right to be let alone v. freedom of speech'. The event will take place on 17 October 2006 in the European Parliament and will gather experts, academics and Members of the European Parliament to discuss the current legal regime for EU media and explore possible options for the future, in particular with regard to the issue of applicable law. This seminar is set against the background of the Commission's rejection of Parliament's first reading formulation on defamation and the withdrawal of these provisions from the draft Regulation. The second reading of Rome II scheduled for the end of 2006 also coincides with the discussions on Television without Frontiers and the review of Brussels I and the E-commerce Directive.

Read the programme.

To register for this event, please send an email to: diana.wallis-assistant2@europarl.europa.eu.

http://www.dianawallismep.org.uk/pages/rome2.html

Services directive

Council publishes services directive: CoO excluded

The Council has published its Common Position on the Services Directive. It is in line with the political agreement reached by the Council back in May and reflects the Commission's standpoint on services. Important points in the Position include:

  • The exclusion of the Country-of-Origin principle (CoO)
  • Recital 24 - Audiovisual services, whatever their mode of transmission, including within cinemas, should also be excluded from the scope of this Directive. Furthermore, this Directive should not apply to aids granted by Member States in the audiovisual sector, which are covered by Community rules on competition.
  • Exclusion of gaming activities
  • Overriding reasons may justify the application of authorisation schemes and other restrictions. Such overriding reasons include the protection of intellectual property and cultural policy objectives.

Many of the points will be a source of contention with the Parliament on the scope of the Directive when the position paper arrives at the EP for a second reading in the autumn. However, the Parliament would also like to exclude all Services of General Interest from the scope.

The document is at http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/06/st10/st10003.en06.pdf.

Copyright and IPR

EPC spearheads campaign to claw back copyright from search engines

The EPC is joining forces with the World Association of Newsapers (WAN) to develop a technical framework which will allow publishers to express access and use policies in a language which the search engine's robot "spiders" can be taught to understand. This will make it possible to establish mutually beneficial business relationships between publishers and search engine operators, in which the interests of both parties can be properly balanced and whereby search engines will not find themselves in breach of copyright.

The project is provisionally called The ACAP (for The Automated Content Access Protocol). ACAP will develop and pilot a system by which the owners of content published on the World Wide Web can provide permissions information (relating to access and use of their content) in a form in which it can be recognised and where necessary interpreted by a search engine "crawler", so that the search engine operator (and perhaps, ultimately, any other user) is enabled systematically to comply with such a policy or licence.

Data protection

Commission conference on "International Transfer Of Personal Data"

The European Commission is to organise a Conference on International Transfers of Personal Data on 23-24 October 2006 in Brussels. The event is being held jointly with the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, the independent EU Advisory Body on Data Protection and Privacy, and the United States Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration.

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/intro/news_intro_en.htm

General news

UK's youth turns back on traditional media

According to an article in the Financial Times, more than half of the UK's 16-24 year olds are using social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo at least once a week, as the "networked generation" turns its back on television, radio and newspapers in favour of online communities.

For more information please contact:
For more information, please contact EPC Executive Director Angela Mills Wade on Tel: +44 1865 310 732 or EPC Press Officer Heidi Lambert on Tel: +44 1245 476 265