On July 6, 2015 the EU Commission launched a public consultation (“Consultation“) on Directive 2010/13/EU on Audiovisual Media Services (the “Directive“). The text of the Consultation is available here. The Consultation process will expire on September 30, 2015.

The EU Commission identified the following issues to be considered in the evaluation and review of the Directive:

  1. ensuring a level-playing field for audiovisual media services;
  2. providing for an optimal level of consumer protection;
  3. user protection and prohibition of hate speech and discrimination;
  4. promoting European audiovisual content;
  5. strengthening the single market;
  6. strengthening media freedom and pluralism, access to information and accessibility to content for people with disabilities.

As regards the level-playing field, the EU Commission appears to be aligned with its Communication on “A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe” of May 6, 2015 (see here our previous post on the matter): OTT service providers should be subject to a regulatory framework very similar to the one encompassing linear and non-linear AVMS.

Indeed, the EU Commission pointed out that the Directive does not apply to content hosted by online video-sharing platforms and intermediaries, as such platforms and intermediaries are regulated primarily by the e-Commerce Directive, which exempts them from liability for the content they transmit, store or host, under certain conditions.

Given the increasingly central role that online platforms and intermediaries (e.g. search engines, social media, e-commerce platforms, app stores, price comparison websites) play in the economy and society, the Commission announced a comprehensive assessment of the role of platforms and of online intermediaries to be launched at the end of 2015.

The EU Commission by means of the Consultation seems to confirm that, at least in connection with the promotion of EU audiovisual content and protection of minors, a level-playing field among linear, non-linear and OTT service providers is necessary.