New EU rules for television broadcasting

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 13.11.2006 18.18
Press release
The EU ministers responsible for audiovisual affairs agreed on the general approach of a new directive concerning audiovisual services at their Council meeting in Brussels on 13 November. Legal provisions concerning European television broadcasting activities will change substantially, if the European Parliament supports the general approach adopted by the Council.

Ms Susanna Huovinen, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland, presided over Council discussions about the directive.

"I am very pleased that after long and careful preparation we have found a solution to this important matter", she said. "The new directive will promote European content production and the free movement of services."

The Council meeting adopted a compromise proposal made by Finland, which presently holds the EU Presidency. The debate about the directive was mostly concerned with the "country-of-origin" principle and product placement.

Some Member States were critical of the proposal but a majority supported Finland's proposal.

Rules on advertising and product placement would change

The new directive would change the present provisions regarding placement and quantity of advertising. The amount of advertising would remain at a maximum of 12 minutes per hour, but the frequency of programme interruptions would no longer be regulated. However, films and news broadcasts could be interrupted only once in 30 minutes. The same would apply to children's programmes lasting more than 30 minutes.

The directive would prohibit product placement, i.e. the featuring of a brand's logo or a favourable mention, but Member States could allow it in films, series, sports programmes and light entertainment. The use of product placement should be clearly identified at the start and end of programmes and there should be no direct suggestions about buying the products.

The basic rules of the new directive will also be applied to television-like services, such as services ordered through the Internet. For example, contents produced by private users and various games will fall outside the scope of application of the directive.

Rules of the transmitting country will apply

Member States are allowed to set stricter rules on operators than those set out in the directive. The directive follows the principle of country-of-origin, which means that the rules of the country where the service provider is located will be applied to audiovisual services. Situations in which broadcasts are mainly or entirely directed from one Member State to another call for cooperation between the transmitting and the receiving country. If it is evident that a television operator is located in another country in order to circumvent the rules of the receiving country, the receiving country may take measures against the television operator.

The new directive will update the legal provisions of 1997 with regard to technological development. The European Parliament intends to vote on the draft directive in December.

For further information please contact:
Mr Perttu Puro, State Secretary, tel. +358 9 160 28325, +358 40 779 346
Mr Ismo Kosonen, Director of Media Policy Unit, tel. +358 9 160 28462, +358 50 511 6601