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History - TVwF

History of TVwF -
The Television without Frontiers Directive 

The technological revolution in the early 1980s - and the rapidly growing deficit with the US in audiovisual trade - were what first provided the incentive for European regulation. Rapid developments in TV and radio broadcasting technology – especially satellite broadcasting - resulted in commercial TV and radio stations sprouting up all over Western Europe. Since broadcast signals don’t stop at national borders, and the laws governing the audiovisual sector differed from one country to another, the EU came up with some minimum standards applicable in all Member States.

dot1984 – Green Paper on the establishment of a Common market in broadcasting

In 1984, the Commission presented a "Green Paper on the establishment of a common market in broadcasting, especially by Satellite and Cable" pdf and in 1987 a "Green Paper on the development of the Common Market for Telecommunication Services and Equipment" pdf

These Green Papers discussed regulatory steps to establish a competitive open information market and for a "European Television", implementing the freedoms enshrined in the Treaty of Rome and fulfilling the single market in these sectors.

The instruments proposed in the Green Paper on convergence were the liberalization of the national telecommunication sectors and the abolition of national frontiers. This should inter alia be reached by the development of common standards, the "Open Network Provision" (non-discriminatory access to telecommunication networks), the stimulation of new services and the definition of a coherent European position on satellite communications.

The Green Paper on Broadcasting analysed broadcasting in Europe which at this time was essentially national and  the potential lying in transfrontier television due to satellite and cable distribution. It described sectors that needed legal harmonization  such as advertising, protection of minors and the right of reply to promote trans-border provision of television services.

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dot1989– Television without Frontiers Directive adopted

The Green Paper on the establishment of a Common market in broadcasting and the following discussions and consultations were the basis for the Television without Frontiers Directive (TVwF).  The Commission presented its legislative proposal in 1986 ( ) which was adopted in 1989  and updated in 1997.  TVwF aimed to create the conditions necessary for the free movement of television services within the Community.

The Directive covered all forms of transmission of television programs to the public, except for communication services providing items of information or other messages on demand.

In order to achieve free movement of television services within the Community, TVwF provided for some minimum harmonization with regard to a number of public policy objectives like the protection of minors and public order, consumer protection (advertising), the promotion of European works and works by independent producers and the right of reply. 

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dot1997 – Television without Frontiers Directive updated

In June 1997, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the revised TVwF which aimed to ensure greater legal certainty and to update the initial rules. The revision concerned the principle of jurisdiction that the Member State responsible for television channels was determined by the location of the head office and the place where programming decisions are made. Furthermore, the updated TVwF placed more emphasis on the protection of minors. Since the revision in 1997, TVwF ensured also that events which were regarded by a Member State as being of major importance for society may not be broadcast in such a way that a substantial part of the population of that Member State is deprived of viewing the events.

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dot2007 – Audiovisual Media Services Directive

The Television without Frontiers Directive covered only television. However, the number of mass-media services similar to television but which don't correspond to the definition of traditional television has been growing in the last years (video-on-demand).

The review of the regulatory framework was launched with the Fourth Communication from the Commission on the application of the TVwF in 2002.

Following public consultations in 2003 and 2005 the Commission's proposal for the new Directive was adopted in December 2005. After some modifications in the course of the Co-decision process the Audiovisual Media Directive was adopted by the European Parliament in November 2007 and entered into force on 19 December 2007. The Member States had to transpose the new provisions into national law by 19 December 2009.

Read more on:

Go toHistory of the regulatory framework

Go toAVMSD Consultation process

Go toAVMSD Co-decision process


Go toNon-linear audiovisual services  -Questionnaire pdf English  - Summary of answers pdf

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