20151030 Epra

The European audiovisual regulatory framework is set to be overhauled in the near future. The information was confirmed by the European Commission representative in Nuremberg at the 42nd meeting of EPRA, a platform of 52 regulatory bodies from 46 countries. So now is the time for European regulators to make known their grievances and make sure their voices are heard during the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD).

When it comes to advertising, regulators remain concerned by regulations on the controversial question of product placement, in other words promoting a branded product in a television programme or film. They believe that the framework provided in the 2010 directive lacks precision. At what point should a “placed product” be considered to have such “undue prominence” that it jeopardizes editorial responsibility? Another question raised was how to deal with the lack of a clear definition for some forms of placement. During a working group session, EPRA members analysed specific cases and recent case law in the field.

In a second working group, the representatives examined the question of content in the general or public interest in relation with the development of new technologies. If we assume that such content should be available, accessible and easy to find, this then raises the question of what the notion actually means in specific terms. In what conditions can audiovisual content be considered as being in the public or general interest? Are public operators the only ones in a position to offer such content, or can we accept that purely commercial operators might also broadcast material that comes under this heading? Once the substance of the notion has been clarified, methods need to be found to make the content visible and easily accessible via distribution networks, and different solutions need to be considered for linear services, broadcast via traditional means, and non-linear services, distributed over the Internet.

The plenary session looked at the contribution of regulators to the production and distribution of European content. While it is clear that US programmes have become dominant, it is vital to develop parallel strategies to contribute to sustainable funding and improve the visibility of European audiovisual production.

It remains to be seen how the demands of regulators, and indeed of the industry as a whole, will be taken into account by the European Commission for the reform of the AVMSD, which should result in a first draft text in June 2016.