The Audiovisual Media Services Directive strives to ensure that Member States make certain that media services under their jurisdiction contribute to equality and accessibility in terms of content distribution and accessibility.

Prohibition of incitement to hatred

Within the EU

The authorities in every EU country must ensure that audiovisual media services do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality. This is an issue, for instance, with channels that endorse violence as the solution to social or political conflicts.

Banning a television channel outright must remain a last resort in order to be balanced against the democratic right to free speech, as it is a radical move. In addition to corresponding national broadcasters, authorities in EU Member States are required to act against:

Outside the EU

EU authorities have no power under AVMSD to act against hate speech channels from outside the EU, such as outside satellite channels that can be picked up in parts of the EU.
The Commission regularly raises the issue of hate speech broadcasters in its political dialogue with the countries concerned, particularly those where the broadcasters are based.

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Article 6

Member States shall ensure by appropriate means that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality.

Accessibility for people with disabilities

Member States are to make certain that media services are accessible to people with visual or hearing disabilities.

Sight- and hearing-impaired persons as well as elderly people should be able to participate in the social and cultural life of the European Union. Therefore, they shall have access to audiovisual media services. Governments must encourage media companies under their jurisdiction to do this by sign language, subtitling, audio-description or easily understandable menu navigation.

Read more about Measures concerning access of visually and hearing-impaired people to television programmes in the Member States before the adoption of the AVMSD.

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Article 7

Member States shall encourage media service providers under their jurisdiction to ensure that their services are gradually made accessible to people with a visual or hearing disability.

Major events

The AVMSD lays down framework conditions to prevent major events from being monopolised by pay-TV. This framework enables Member States to ensure that broadcasters under its jurisdiction do not broadcast events of major importance for society on an exclusive basis, as it would deprive the possibility for a majority of the public to follow them.

The events concerned may be national or other, such as the Olympic Games, the Football World Cup or the European Football Championship, an inauguration, marriage or burial of a king, queen or head of state, or an important cultural event.

Each Member State is entitled to draw up a list of events which are seen as being of major importance for society. According to Article 14 of the AVMSD, Member States notify the Commission of the measures they take, or intend to take, concerning the exercise of exclusive broadcasting rights to major events. Member States must also ensure that broadcasters under their jurisdiction respect the lists of other Member States which notified them to the Commission, on the basis of the principle of mutual recognition.

The Commission must seek the opinion of the Committee pursuant to Article 29 of the Directive (the Contact Committee, composed of representatives of all Member States), and it must assess the compatibility of the national measures with European Union Law. In case of a positive outcome of this evaluation process, the measures are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Find out more about the measures taken by the different Member States in this area.

Read the Judgement of the Court of First Instance of 15 December 2005.

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Article 14

  1. Each Member State may take measures in accordance with Union law to ensure that broadcasters under its jurisdiction do not broadcast on an exclusive basis events which are regarded by that Member State as being of major importance for society in such a way as to deprive a substantial proportion of the public in that Member State of the possibility of following such events by live coverage or deferred coverage on free television. If it does so, the Member State concerned shall draw up a list of designated events, national or non-national, which it considers to be of major importance for society. It shall do so in a clear and transparent manner in due time. In so doing the Member State concerned shall also determine whether these events should be available by whole or partial live coverage or, where necessary or appropriate for objective reasons in the public interest, whole or partial deferred coverage.
  2. Member States shall immediately notify to the Commission any measures taken or to be taken pursuant to paragraph 1. Within a period of 3 months from the notification, the Commission shall verify that such measures are compatible with Union law and communicate them to the other Member States. It shall seek the opinion of the contact committee established pursuant to Article 29. It shall forthwith publish the measures taken in the Official Journal of the European Union and at least once a year the consolidated list of the measures taken by Member States.
  3. Member States shall ensure, by appropriate means within the framework of their legislation, that broadcasters under their jurisdiction do not exercise the exclusive rights purchased by those broadcasters after 18 December 2007 in such a way that a substantial proportion of the public in another Member State is deprived of the possibility of following events which are designated by that other Member State in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 2 by whole or partial live coverage or, where necessary or appropriate for objective reasons in the public interest, whole or partial deferred coverage on free television as determined by that other Member State in accordance with paragraph 1.

Short extracts

Member States must ensure that any broadcaster established in the Union has access to short extracts of events of high interest to the public which are transmitted on an exclusive basis. These short extracts can only be used for general news programmes and must be provided on a fair, reasonable and non discriminatory basis.

This right to access should apply on a cross border basis only when it is necessary i.e. when no broadcaster established in the same Member State as the broadcaster seeking access to the extracts has acquired the rights.
Member States define the modalities and conditions regarding the provision of short extracts. However, where compensation is provided for, it may not exceed the additional costs directly incurred in providing access.

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Article 15

  1. Member States shall ensure that for the purpose of short news reports, any broadcaster established in the Union has access on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis to events of high interest to the public which are transmitted on an exclusive basis by a broadcaster under their jurisdiction.
  2. If another broadcaster established in the same Member State as the broadcaster seeking access has acquired exclusive rights to the event of high interest to the public, access shall be sought from that broadcaster.
  3. Member States shall ensure that such access is guaranteed by allowing broadcasters to freely choose short extracts from the transmitting broadcaster's signal with, unless impossible for reasons of practicality, at least the identification of their source.
  4. As an alternative to paragraph 3, Member States may establish an equivalent system which achieves access on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis through other means.
  5. Short extracts shall be used solely for general news programmes and may be used in on-demand audiovisual media services only if the same programme is offered on a deferred basis by the same media service provider.
  6. Without prejudice to paragraphs 1 to 5, Member States shall ensure, in accordance with their legal systems and practices, that the modalities and conditions regarding the provision of such short extracts are defined, in particular, with respect to any compensation arrangements, the maximum length of short extracts and time-limits regarding their transmission. Where compensation is provided for, it shall not exceed the additional costs directly incurred in providing access.