Changes in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive Protect Consumers from Harmful Content and Foster European Productions

On November 6, 2018 the European council adopted the third amendment in Directive 2010/13/EU concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive).

The new rules will introduce equal requirements for viewer protection with regard to media service providers' programs, regardless of the type of service they provide or the platform they use. For consumers, this means that they will be under the same protection regardless of whether they watch a movie on TV or online through a media service on demand.

Consumer Protection Against Harmful Content

The rules will introduce enhanced protection for all users, including minors, against violent and harmful content. The changes also affect video sharing platforms, such as YouTube, as well as social networks such as Facebook, which now will have the obligation to take the necessary measures to limit inappropriate content for minors, such as advertisements of foods high in fat, sugars and salts, as well as those that incite to violence, hatred, terrorism and other criminal offences.

More European Productions

The changes will contribute to the promotion of European productions as the on-demand audiovisual media service providers will have to ensure that at least 30% of the broadcast programs contain productions with European content. This will create additional burdens for on-demand media service providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO GO who will have to make major changes to their movie and broadcast programs and include more European content in them.

It is also expected that incentives will be introduced to support the production of European content and that financial contributions from media service providers may be increased.

More Flexibility in Advertising

In addition, the changes introduce more flexibility with regard to the duration of the advertising spots compared to the current limit of 12 minutes per hour. The televisions will be able to determine the duration of the advertising themselves, with a total limit of up to 20 percent of the broadcast content between 6.00 a.m. and 24.00 p.m. remaining unchanged.

It is expected that the newly introduced changes will have a positive response among TV broadcasters, who will gain more freedom in ad targeting. Providers of on-demand media services, video sharing platforms and social networks will, however, be subjects to a stricter regulation and will need to carefully consider how to provide their services across the European Union.

The amendment to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication and Member States will have 21 months to implement the changes in their national legislation.