Ofcom is today publishing an independent study conducted by RAND Europe, which looks at the potential indirect impact of the European Commission’s proposed Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive.
Since 1989, television services in Europe have been regulated by the Television without Frontiers Directive, which created a single market for the provision of television services and established minimum content rules in areas such as protection of minors and advertising. In December last year, the European Commission published a proposal for a new directive. The draft is currently being considered by the European Council and the European Parliament, and adoption is expected by 2007, at the earliest.
The Commission proposes to extend the scope of regulation to all audiovisual media services, which have been defined as services the principal purpose of which is the provision of moving images, with or without sound, to the general public, in order to inform, educate or entertain. Nine months into the discussions, it remains unclear which services are exactly caught by these proposals. However, it appears that a number of strategically significant new media sectors could potentially fall within the scope of the new Directive, including mobile multimedia, online gaming and IP television.
The proposal has raised serious concerns among UK and European industry, on the grounds that it will significantly increase regulatory costs and uncertainty. Further, it has been argued that it will negatively impact on innovation, European competitiveness, and the Lisbon Agenda goals.