Thursday, May 31, 2007

AVMS DIrective also finally passed

Good god the EU people really want their hols don't they? This one also seems to have been going as long as I can recall..

"The new proposal is called the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive and will replace the TV Without Frontiers Directive. It will permit product placement as long as warnings are screened and will extend TV regulation to audiovisual material on the internet or on on-demand networks.

Though there is some regulation of on-demand services, the regulatory burden is far lighter than it is on scheduled services."

No time for real comment but Pangloss plans to look see what the line IS between Internet and TV (if it can be drawn) - what of this, for example?

The Directive covers audiovisual services as defined in Art 1(a):

"‘audiovisual media service’ appears to be defined by responsibility, purpose, and service provision:

=" a service as defined by Articles 49 and 50 of the Treaty which is under the editorial
responsibility of a media service provider and the principal purpose of which is the
provision of programmes in order to inform, entertain or educate, to the general public by electronic communications networks within the meaning of Article 2(a) of Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Such audiovisual media
services are either television broadcasts as defined in paragraph (c) of this Article or ondemand services as defined in paragraph (e) of this Article." [bold added]

(aa) 'programme' means a set of moving images with or without sound constituting an individual
item within a schedule or a catalogue established by a media service provider and whose form
and content is comparable to the form and content of television broadcasting. Examples of programmes include feature-length films, sports events, situation comedy, documentary, children’s programmes and original drama."

If anyone wants to interpret all that for me I'm all ears. Oh what the hell I'll have a go..

At very first blush it looks like You Tube do inded provide "programmes" (individual videos accessed in a catalogue) . "Editorial responsibility' means "the exercise of effective control both over the selection of the programmes and over their organisation ... in a catalogue, in the case of on-demand services. (AND) Editorial responsibility does not necessarily imply any legal liability under national law for the content or the services provided." (Art 1(ab)). That also seems to fit, the final sentence being crucial. So YT are a media service provider because they take editorial reponsibility (Art 1(b))

So - continuing the worked example - Is You Tube an ondemand service? Looks like it:

"'on-demand service' (i.e. a non-linear audiovisual media service) means an audiovisual media service provided by a media service provider for the viewing of programmes at the moment chosen by the user and at his/her individual request on the basis of a catalogue of programmes selected by the media service provider". (Art 1(e)). Tick.

So YT does seem to fall under the AVMSD in its pure Internet form, even before its content gets as far as Apple TV. But will Apple TV be a television broadcast, which would mean the same content would fall under two different regimes of regulation within the AVMSD? Nope, because acc to Art 1(c), that is a "a linear audiovisual media service" ie "an audiovisual media service provided on the basis of a programme schedule."

Which has the happy result of meaning that YT videoes whether on the Net or the Apple TV don't have to comply with Art 22 of the AVMS< which only applies to "television broadcasts" and requires them to comply with conventional national broadcasting standards for the protection of children. So no "watershed" requirement for adult content on YT!

BTW- I think this Directive has the best definitions section I've ever seen actually: anyone for a "‘surreptitious audiovisual commercial communication'? It means a web bug, I think.

In fact this is one of the topics of the panel I'll be moderating at the upcoming SCL Conference so hopefully I'll learn something to report!


Anonymous said...

One of the interesting things is going to be when someone takes ITV to court for showing a US TV show with product placement in it...

pangloss said...

No probelm with product placement in drama programmes so long as a special signal is given before programme The Directive permits limited product placement. "The placement of a specific product would be allowed in a limited range of programmes, and then only under strict rules," said a Parliament statement. "Product placement would be banned in news and current affairs programmes, children's programmes, documentaries and programmes of advice."

"Programmes which carry placed products must alert viewers several times. "Before a programme containing product placement starts and when it ends, a special signal should appear. This signal should also appear before commercial breaks," said the statement."

PRE-sumably that's so you can set your video to skip these?? and the adverts??:-)

Anonymous said...

I really shudder when I see this regulation. It is the first step to bringing high barriers to entry to the internet broadcast business. In a world where the number of channels and broadcasters is exploding both on conventional media and the internet I totally fail to see why the EU has to regulate things such as advert limits etc. especially on the internet. If people aren't willing to put up with a lot of adds they can turn the channel off and choose from one of the thousands of others. Broadcasters have to make their money somehow- programs and content aren't generally free. If the directive had been kept to it's original scope i.e. Television I wouldn't have minded so much but it has been mutilated to cover an area it has no business being in.

I can see the reasoning the Commission and Parliament followed "We shouldn't discriminate on the form but the substance" however this completely glosses over the different market nature of the two mediums- television tends to be a closed shop with high barriers to entry and a few major players but the internet is the closest you can get to perfect competition. Perfect competition doesn't need so much regulation because competitive pressures mean broadcasters have to please viewers and listeners to keep them or risk losing them to one of the thousands of other competitors.

If you run a small internet radio service you can be caught under all the red tape that would apply to a state terrestrial broadcaster, since not all web stations are on demand services- some operate much like real radio stations. This will disincentivise small players from the internet media market. The problem is that politicians are easily won over by what sounds on the surface like a good idea but in practise creates more problems than it solves.