As part of a planned update of its Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSD), which governs television broadcasting and other audio-visual services in Europe, the European Commission (EC) proposed rules Wednesday that would set minimum standards for the streaming of European-sourced video content by online video distributors (OVDs) and other online video sharing platforms. Heralded in an EC press release as “a media framework for the 21st century,” the AMSD revision includes provisions that aim to encourage (1) “responsible” video sharing platforms, (2) a stronger role for audiovisual regulators, (3) greater flexibility for television broadcasters, and (4) “more European creativity.” Citing the recent shift in TV viewing habits in which “viewers do not only watch video content via their channels but also increasingly via [online] video-on-demand services,” the EC said it hopes to achieve “a better balance of the rules” without regard to the viewing platforms used. The EC further pledged that it “will look at each area where it can act, from telecoms to copyright rules, to address any specific problems in a future-proof way for all market players.”
While current rules requiring TV broadcasters to devote at least 50% of airtime to European content will remain unchanged, the proposed directive would require OVDs and other video sharing platforms to devote at least 20% of their content to European-sourced material. European Union member states would have the power to require OVDs to contribute financially to the development and carriage of European-sourced content in their respective countries. Although the proposed rules would maintain current 20% limit on broadcast air time devoted to advertising between 7 AM and 11 PM, television broadcasters and OVDs would be given greater flexibility to use product placement and sponsorship.
The rules remain subject to approval by the 28 EU member states and by the European Parliament. Declaring, “I want online platforms and the audiovisual and creative sectors to be powerhouses in the digital economy,” Andrus Ansip, the EC Vice President for the Digital Single Market, told reporters that such services “need the certainty of a modern and fair legal environment [and] that is what we are providing today.”