Oettinger urges Council to move fast on audiovisual reform


Oettinger speaking at the European Council on 19 May. [European Council/Youtube]

Back from his two-day trip to the Cannes film festival, Digital Economy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said on Tuesday (19 May) that talks on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) need to pick up the pace.

Oettinger met with ministers of culture and education at the European Council, where he said the European Commission would speed up the directive and look for a “different way of working with Council and Parliament” because “in the digital sector, two years is a long time”.

The Commission wants to propose reform to the AVMSD directive early next year as part of the broad Digital Single Market plans it presented this month.

New rules on audiovisual material should also apply to video on-demand services, “not always within the EU, some of them may be outside the EU”, Oettinger said, naming American video streaming platform Netflix and Amazon, which also offers a streaming service.

>>Read: Oettinger defends digital market against internet giants (in French)

The Audiovisual Directive sets out rules for European television broadcasters and on-demand services on advertising, the ratio of European to non-European content shown, hate speech and protection of minors. The current directive was passed in 2007.

On Tuesday, Oettinger stressed that ministers from around Europe had made “clear statements” on the directive’s country of origin principle, which states that media providers are liable to regulation in the country where they produce and not where a work is distributed.

Oettinger again voiced his support for copyright restrictions that prevent people from accessing media in some countries within Europe, known as geo-blocking. “Territoriality can go hand-in-hand with portability for consumers,” Oettinger said. “We want a European solution, not a centralised one”.

Oettinger has previously clashed with Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip on geo-blocking. During a debate in the European Parliament yesterday -– the same day as Oettinger’s Council meeting — Ansip said, “When it comes to video on-demand, I’d like to ask for cross-border access.”

French Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin remarked, “We need to improve access to digital works, but not calling into question territorial rights,” adding “I think it’s crucial that this is accompanied by a genuine strategy to combat piracy.”

>>Read: Cultural industries unite against copyright reform

Pellerin and Oettinger met on Sunday during his visit to Cannes, where they both sat down with filmmakers who petitioned last month for “enforced copyright” to protect artists.


The European Commission presented its long-awaited strategy for a Digital Single Market on 6 May.

The strategy, which still needs to be followed up with concrete legislative proposals, addresses issues ranging from consumer rights in online retail, to copyright and data protection to network expansion and the use of modern techniques for industry.

>> Read: EU 'racing to catch up' with Digital Single Market plan