In September the European Commission sent letters to eight EU Member States, Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxemburg, asking for information about their implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS). The countries are to reply to the Commission in 10 weeks.
The AVMS Directive regulates all audiovisual media services, both traditional television and video-on-demand, and aims to create a ‘level-playing field’ for traditional TV-based and online broadcasters. The Directive is based on the ‘country of origin principle’, meaning that media service providers are only subject to regulation in their country of origin and cannot abide by regulations in the destination country, except in very limited circumstances, such as incitement to hatred.
EU Member States agreed to implement the AVMS Directive into their national law by 19 December 2009.
The sent requests for information do not imply that the eight states in question have incorrectly applied the AVMS Directive, but that at the moment the Commission has certain outstanding questions regarding this implementation. Among other these questions are connected with the country of origin principle and jurisdiction issues, product placement and sponsorship television advertising, rules on incitement to hatred, registration of on-demand services, protection of minors and the promotion of European works.
In addition to requesting additional information on the implementation of the AVMS Directive, the Commission has also initiated infringement procedures against two Member States: Slovenia (which has not notified any measures to transpose the AVMS Directive into national law) and Poland (which has only partially notified some measures). Measures notified by Portugal are still being analysed.