The European Commission has requested Belgium and the UK to implement outstanding provisions of the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive in Brussels and Gibraltar respectively. The request was made on 29 September 2011.
Belgium has notified the Commission of measures to implement the AVMS Directive as regards all audiovisual media services that are established in all three linguistic communities: French, Flemish and German. However, audiovisual media services established in Brussels which are not in French or Dutch fall outside the competence of the linguistic Communities and remain under the competence of the federal authorities. The Belgian federal state has not yet adopted the laws covering these services. As a consequence, on-demand services provided in Brussels in other languages than French and Dutch are not yet regulated. The Belgian authorities have informed the Commission that a draft law is being prepared but is still in a preliminary phase.
The UK has also notified the Commission of measures to implement the AVMS Directive into national law. However, this law does not cover audiovisual services provided in Gibraltar. A draft law is under preparation, but the adoption process is still underway.
The requests are in the form of ‘reasoned opinions’ under EU infringement procedures. Belgium and UK have two months to inform the Commission of the measures they have taken to comply with EU rules. If they fail to do so, the Commission could refer them to the EU’s Court of Justice.
The AVMS Directive (2010/13/EU) ensures a Single Market and legal certainty for Europe’s TV and audiovisual industry by creating a level playing field for both broadcast and on-demand audiovisual media services across frontiers while preserving cultural diversity, protecting children and consumers, safeguarding media pluralism and combating racial and religious hatred. The Directive is based on the “country of origin” principle, whereby audiovisual media service providers are subject to the regulations in their country of origin only and cannot be subject to regulation in the destination country except in very limited circumstances (e.g. incitement to hatred). EU Member States agreed to implement the AVMS Directive into their national law by 19 December 2009 (see IP/09/1983).
The absence of measures to implement the Directive fully in Brussels and Gibraltar denies legal certainty to audiovisual service providers.