26 May 2017

Join letter – Industry organisations voice concerns over the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Join letter – Industry organisations voice concerns over the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Re: Impact Assessment of the Commission’s proposal for an Audio Visual Media Services Directive

Dear Minister,

We are writing to you as a coalition of industries who are committed to the establishment of a fair and proportionate legislative framework for audiovisual media services in the European Union.

The review of the AVMS Directive is one of the first tests of Europe’s ambition to progress towards a Digital Single Market that benefits European businesses and citizens. Seen in this light, it sets a deeply worrying precedent.

Today, European consumers have access to a greater variety of content – across borders and devices – more than ever. While we acknowledge that industry has an important role to play in fostering the availability of quality European content, we are concerned that the Council text risks severely disrupting this dynamic sector.

The mandatory quota requirements in Article 13 para 1 disproportionately impact the smaller EU markets. Service providers may need to cut their existing catalogue or refuse new content. This robs consumers of choice and access to content that they already enjoyed. Furthermore by attacking the “country of origin” principle, Article 13 para 2 as laid out in the Council’s text would fragment the Digital Single Market rather than stimulate it. The move to a “country of destination”-principle would create a disproportionate burden on providers that offer video content across borders and prevent European start-ups from growing their business and harnessing the potential of the Digital Single Market. It would also particularly disadvantage Member States with smaller audiences. In its current form, the proposed contributions to national funds will cause cross-border providers to invest less in direct investments in European works. This should be remedied by clarifying that any obligation to contribute to national funds should be proportionate and take into account any direct investments made in European works.

Moreover, through vague definitions and provisions, the draft risks undermining one of the fundamental building blocks of the digital economy and of the internet: the e-Commerce Directive. It does so in a sector-specific manner and without an open debate. It threatens fundamental freedoms – including the freedom of speech – through disproportionate requirements for service providers to restrict content which is not illegal. This approach is restrictive, rather than protective, and could lead to abusive practices. It is a step back from a competitive and consumer-friendly digital economy for Europe.

We believe an impact assessment would help guide the ongoing discussions in line with the Commission’s Better Regulation guidelines. We therefore urge the Commission and the Member States to properly assess the potential effects of the proposal on the Single Market prior to the adoption of the General Approach.

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