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Francisco Pinto Balsemão
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Tel: +351 21 392 9782
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Tel: +322 231 1299
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Heidi Lambert Communications
Tel:  +44 1245 476 265
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EPC news - November 2004

The monthly update on EU media issues



New powerful industry alliance formed on day of Kok Report publication

A misguided focus on new technologies at the expense of the content industry is at the very heart of the failure of the EU to achieve its Lisbon objectives, according to the EPC and Europe's other top creative businesses and media and industry associations who joined forces this month to launch the high-level Creative and Media Business Alliance.

In a news release, the alliance said: "The information society is just pipes and cables without content. A knowledge-driven economy requires high quality content provided by a competitive and dynamic creative sector. The focus of all EU initiatives is, in our experience, totally new-technology focused with content industries left on the side lines. If this imbalance is not corrected, there is no hope of achieving the Lisbon goals by 2010."

The alliance calls for a "re-thinking of the Lisbon Agenda" and will be working to put its case on an ongoing basis to EU decision makers to communicate the importance of a sector that invests in, produces and disseminates a huge array of content that educates, informs and entertains Europe's citizens via newspapers, books, magazines, databases, portals and includes web-publishers, music companies, broadcasters and film producers as well as advertisers. The alliance says that it is this creative content which people are looking for when they are connecting to the internet, activating their broadband connection, switching on their 3G mobile phone or choosing a channel on their digital TV service.

The alliance members are: ACT, Bertelsmann, EASA, EMI, ENPA, EPC, FEEP, IFPI, LAGARDERE, Mediaset, MPA, Reed Elsevier, The Walt Disney Company and Universal Music International.


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Media-related policy issues for 2005 and beyond

Commission-delegate Viviane Reding presents to Parliament

Commissioner-designate for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding has presented her "mission statement" to the European Parliament which includes:

  • Her role will be to "mobilise energies and set common objectives";
  • She plans to update the eEurope Action Plan at the beginning of 2005, and will announce concrete objectives then;
  • In July 2005 the Universal Services Directive will be re-evaluated;
  • She intends to carry out a cost/benefit analysis for technical research projects;
  • eEurope 2010 will tackle the digital divide;
  • She will also table a communication on e-accessibility (i.e. Internet access for the elderly and disabled);
  • Under creativity, she stressed the need to circulate European works expressing European ideas and identity;
  • She is keen to use technological solutions to protect copyright;
  • She noted the need to revise the TWF directive, and look at the possibility of a content directive;
  • The launch of High Definition and Interactive digital television will also be studied.
  • She recognises that media pluralism remains an issue, but noted that there's no easy solution.

Commissioner Reding has also revealed plans to double EU financial assistance for the European film and audio-visual industry, subject to approval by the European Parliament and Council. The funding is part of a package of Brussels aid measures for the film industry called 'MEDIA 2007'. The budget for this funding has been increased from €500 million to over €1 billion.


Dutch Presidency work programme outlined

Dutch Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science Medy van der Laan has announced that she is going to focus her work on:

  • Developing the link between economy and culture;
  • Improving access to digital technology;
  • Improving mobility and especially the mobility of artists, mainly by tackling the question of double taxation for artists;
  • Strengthening the cultural exchange process.

The minister also cited the protection of minors on the Internet and the new method for selecting European Culture Capitals as a priority.


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Rome II

EPC opposes latest text: free movement of press at stake

The debate continues at EU level on the issue of Rome II. The move by the Commission would produce a regulation that harmonises the law applicable to cross-border defamation. At the moment the text stipulates that the law applicable would be the law of the plaintiff unless there was any threat to the freedom of the press.

The Council favours this approach with the condition that only publications in circulation in the country where the case is heard would be considered. The EPC opposes the current text as it would hinder free movement of the press with editors ensuring publications do not circulate in countries with strict privacy laws.

At the moment the EPC and other publishing organisations have taken the position that the media should be exempted from the scope of the proposed regulation completely. Member States have warned that this may lead to separate rules in this area for the media but it is generally felt that this would still be a more acceptable situation than the current one.

It is hoped that more revisions in line with publishers' concerns will be proposed by EP Rapporteur Diana Wallis before the text is formally adopted.


Strasbourg ruling makes privacy law more likely

Meanwhile, a former director of the UK Press Complaints Commission has warned that the British media are "perilously close" to having a fully-fledged privacy law forced upon them after a deadline to reverse the landmark Princess Caroline privacy ruling passed.

The ruling, which stated that Princess Caroline of Monaco's privacy was violated by the publication of photographs of her and her family even though they were taken in a public place, must be taken into account by the British courts after the German government failed to lodge an appeal by last Friday's deadline.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the publication of photographs of the Princess and her family in German magazines constituted a violation of article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to respect for private life.

The European convention on human rights has been incorporated into UK law, and judges are obliged to take account of the judgements of the Strasbourg court.


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Right to reply

Online only but publishers fear implications of new proposal

Debate on the new Commission proposal on the right to reply which forms part of their proposed revision of the 1998 Recommendation on the Protection of Minors and Human Dignity will continue through November. The proposal is for a non legally binding instrument, which recommends best practice, including statutory intervention by the Member States. Although the media is affected, the Commission did not consult with the EPC. The Council of Europe has proposed a Resolution along the same lines.

The proposed text states that a legally enforceable right of reply or equivalent remedies should apply to all media, although print media has been excluded from the latest text. The inclusion of online publication is the area causing most concern as the term 'medium' refers to "any means of communication for the periodic dissemination to the public of edited information online, such as newspapers, periodicals, radio, television and web-based news services".


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Food advertising

New research shows progress in codes of conduct

As the debate on food advertising continues, EASA (the European Advertising Standards Alliance). research has found that almost 70% of Self-Regulatory Organisations have either implemented a code on food advertising or have begun discussions for the adoption of a code. The survey investigated the implementation of the ICC Framework for responsible food and beverage communication which was launched in July 2004.

In parallel, EASA is also examining the nature of complaints for food and beverage advertisements over 2003. These results could act as a pre-cursor to a food and beverage monitoring project in 2005.


UK politicians oppose TV ad ban for food

Both Shadow Health and Health Secretaries in the UK have come out against any legislation to ban TV advertising of food products during children's programmes.

Despite an online survey carried out by the BBC that claims that 76% of people would support a ban on the advertising of food high in fat, sugar or salt during children's programmes, politicians on both sides of the political divide have stated that it is not the role of government to interfere to the extent of a ban, rather it should enable citizens to make informed choices about their diet and lifestyles. Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley argued that exercise was a more important factor in fighting obesity than diet.


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For more information on any of the following issues, contact Heidi Lambert Communications Tel: +44 1245 476 265.

Internet regulation
Market abuse
Tobacco advertising
Children's advertising
Jurisdiction and applicable law
Duty to trade fairly
Sales promotion


Angela Mills, Director of  EPC: Tel: +32 2 231 1299 (Brussels) or +44 1865 310 732 (UK)

Heidi Lambert Communications: Tel: +44 1245 476 265


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