|European Commission Culture Portal . . . > Cultural industries||Contact | Search on EUROPA|
Regulation of the audiovisual sector
In the framework of its audiovisual policy, the EU has established a set of European rules supporting existing national policies and taking into account the economic, cultural and social dimensions of this industry.
The special nature of the audiovisual sector is underlined in the Council of Ministers' Resolution of 21 January 2002, which emphasises the need to incorporate the cultural, competitive and industrial dimensions of this sector at the same time.
without Frontiers directive is the cornerstone of the European Community's
regulatory framework in the audiovisual field. The Directive (adopted
in 1989 and revised in 1997) aims to ensure the free movement of broadcasting
services within the internal market and at the same time to preserve certain
public interest objectives, such as cultural diversity, right of reply,
consumer protection and the protection of minors.
The Community rules on competition apply to the audiovisual media and to cinema with some specifications taking into account the nature of the audiovisual sector: the Treaty authorises State aid to promote culture "where such aid does not affect trading conditions and competition [...] to an extent that is contrary to the common interest" (Article 87).
In its Resolution of 12 February 2001, the Council stressed the importance of national aid for cinema and the audiovisual media in order to safeguard cultural diversity and help to create a European audiovisual market. The Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works of September 2001 contains the general approach of the Commission with regard to State aid to the cinema and TV production sector. In particular, it spells out the criteria used by the Commission for assessing if a national scheme of State aid to cinema is compatible or not with the EC Treaty. The Cinema II Communication (COM(2004)171), adopted on 16 March 2004, extended these criteria until June 2007.
Finally, the Member States have the power to provide for funding of the public broadcasting service in view of the democratic, social and cultural role it plays in fulfilling its public service tasks (Protocol annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam). A Communication from the Commission of October 2001 clarifies the application of the rules on State aid to the public broadcasting service.
The cinema and audiovisual industries do not make the most of what the internal market has to offer. In its Communication of September 2001 on "Certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works", the Commission sets out the technical and regulatory obstacles to the circulation of films and to preservation of audiovisual heritage. It proposes solutions to this (establishing common principles in European systems for registering intellectual property rights, so that audiovisual works may be classified regardless of the dissemination media etc.).
Finally, the European Union protects cultural diversity in international trade: in the negotiations on the services carried out under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation, the European Community and the Member States are ensuring that they retain their freedom to develop and implement public policy in the audiovisual sector.
The digital age
In 1999 the Commission published a Communication 'Priniciples and guidelines for the Community's audiovisual policy in the digital age', in which it proposed the following basic principles: a separate approach to the regulation of transmission infrastructure and content: services providing audiovisual content should be regulated according to their nature and not according to their means of delivery.
In the light of technological developments, the Commission considered that certain regulatory questions are likely to pose problems in the near future and therefore warrant further analysis.
The Commission examines the possibility to revise the Television without Frontiers directive and is working to establish standards for digital cinema (a "European Digital Film Forum" including all those involved in the sector was set up for this purpose in 2001).
|Last update: 02-05-2007|