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Industry Report: European Policy

More promotion of European works: Achievements of articles 3i, 4 and 5 of the AVMSD


- Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) carried out an independent survey in regard to articles 3i, 4 and 5 (promoting European works by linear and non-linear services) requested by the European Commission. Although most European broadcasters fulfilled the minimum targets set for article 4 and 5, the actual implementation of these articles varied under different national regulations.

More promotion of European works: Achievements of articles 3i, 4 and 5 of the AVMSD

One year ago the EU’s AVMSD (Audiovisual Media Service Directive) came into force, providing a modernised legal framework for audiovisual media services by completing the Television without Frontiers Directive. Member States have to transpose the new Directive into national law until the end of 2009.

The Commission requested an independent study to be carried out on the situation of European works promoted by linear and non-linear services, in order to receive data to further monitor and evaluate articles 4 and 5, and to be able to monitor article 3i in the future. The findings and results of the study have just been published by the Commission.

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The study reveals that Member States show significant variations in the implementation of articles 4 and 5 by setting diverse regulatory obligations, whereas the targets set in the two articles were met well above the minimum by most European broadcasters. Regarding article 3i, the study proposes self-declarations from service providers as a suitable method instead of independent evaluation, and presents four performance indicators for monitoring: title-level and hour-level data for catalogue, top-level figure on proportion of budget spent on European programming, as well as non-prescriptive prominence indicators.

Articles 3i, 4 and 5 of this Directive determine that Member States shall ensure the promotion of European works by non-linear services, i.e. on-demand audiovisual media services (Art. 3i), as well as by linear services, i.e. television broadcasters (Art. 4 and 5).

According to the newly introduced article 3i, on-demand audiovisual media services should achieve this objective by financial contributions to the production and rights acquisition of European works or by the share and/or prominence of European works in their programmes. Member States need to report to the Commission by the end of 2011 and subsequently every four years on the implementation of this article.

Article 4, updated by the AVMSD, states that broadcasters should allocate a majority proportion of the transmission time (excluding the time appointed to certain formats such as news, sports events or advertising) to European works. This proportion should be accomplished progressively, and must in any case not be lower than the average of the year 1988 or the year 1990 in the case of Greece and Portugal. Accordingly, article 5, that do not change with the new directive, defines that broadcasters must reserve at least 10% of their transmission time (also excluding the time appointed to certain categories as in article 4) or at least 10% of their programming budget for European works created by producers who are independent of broadcasters. Member States have to report to the Commission every two years on the application of both articles 4 and 5.

The economic crisis has brought a lot of uncertainty to the film industry, but also a wave of protectionism to Europe. Many countries are now looking for measures which would have been considered too interventionist in the past. Is it now the time to strength much more the promotion of European works on the basis of articles 3i, 4 and 5 of the AVMSD? Is it the solution to the bad times that are to come?

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