In the context of its Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy for the European Union (“EU”), the European Commission (“Commission”) published a proposal for an updated Audiovisual Media Services Directive (“AVMSD” or the “Directive”) on 25 May 2016 (the “Proposal”). In its Communication on the DSM Strategy, the Commission indicated it would review the AVMSD “with a focus on its scope and on the nature of the rules applicable to all market players, in particular measures for the promotion of European works, and the rules on protection of minors and advertising rules.”
Despite a few novelties, the Proposal is generally less far-reaching than expected. Vice President Ansip explained that, to offer the legal certainty companies need in the audiovisual sector, it is necessary to maintain “existing rules that work” while “deregulating where necessary for traditional sectors like broadcasting […] to improve user protection and to reach a level-playing field.”
The Proposal continues to seek to achieve minimum harmonisation, such that Member States may impose stricter rules (e.g., on advertising). Therefore, there is no guarantee that the Commission’s aim to align the regimes applicable to all audiovisual media services and provide more flexibility to TV broadcasters will be fulfilled.