Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD)
Directive 2010/13/EU on audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)
It aims to create and ensure the proper functioning of a single European Union market for audiovisual media services*, while contributing to the promotion of cultural diversity and providing an adequate level of consumer and child protection.
The EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) governs EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media, both traditional TV broadcasts and on-demand audiovisual media* services.
Directive (EU) 2018/1808 amends and updates the AVMSD, as part of the digital single market strategy, in order to:
extend certain audiovisual rules to video-sharing platforms as well as audiovisual content shared on certain social media services;
introduce flexibility on restrictions applicable to TV;
strengthen the promotion of European content;
protect children and tackle hate speech more effectively;
reinforce the independence of national regulatory authorities.
EU countries must ensure freedom of reception and must not restrict audiovisual media transmissions from other EU countries. Stricter rules than those in this directive can be applied by countries in certain circumstances and following specific procedures. National authorities must encourage co-regulation and self-regulation through national codes of conduct.
Audiovisual advertising must be readily recognisable as such, and must not:
use subliminal techniques;
prejudice respect for human dignity;
include or promote discrimination;
encourage behaviour prejudicial to health or safety;
encourage behaviour grossly prejudicial to the protection of the environment.
Banned audiovisual advertising includes:
cigarette and tobacco advertising, including for electronic cigarettes and refill containers;
alcohol advertising aimed specifically at minors or encouraging immoderate consumption, among a range of restrictions;
advertising for prescription medicines and treatment;
advertising exploiting children’s inexperience or credulity and trust in adults, or unreasonably showing minors in dangerous situations.
Additional requirements cover sponsorship and product placement, and broadcasters have increased flexibility over advertising time, with a new limit of 20% within the period between 6.00 and 18.00 and the period between 18.00 and 24.00.
EU countries must take action to ensure that programmes which could ‘impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors’ are only made available in such a way that minors will not normally hear or see them, through selecting an appropriate time for broadcast, age verification tools or other technical measures proportionate to the potential harm. The most harmful content, such as gratuitous violence and pornography, is subject to the strictest measures.
Minors also benefit from a higher level of protection online: video-sharing platforms must put in place measures to protect minors from harmful content.
Product placement is also prohibited in children’s programming. EU countries should encourage the use of self- and co-regulation through codes of conduct regarding inappropriate advertising in children’s programmes, for foods and beverages high in fat, salt and sugar.
Audiovisual media services must not contain incitement to violence or hatred directed against groups or a member of a group based on discrimination on grounds such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation or nationality, in accordance with Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Public provocation to commit a terrorist offence is also banned.
Providers must make their services continuously and progressively more accessible to persons with disabilities and are encouraged to develop accessibility action plans to achieve this.
EU countries must designate an online point of contact to provide information and receive complaints regarding accessibility issues. Public emergency information provided through audiovisual media services, for example in natural disaster situations, must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
Video-sharing platform service* providers must put in place appropriate measures to protect minors from content which could affect their physical, mental or moral development, and the general public from incitement to violence or hatred, or public provocation to commit a terrorist offence.
Such measures include, among others:
mechanisms for users to flag non-compliant content and effective procedures for user complaints;
providing effective media literacy measures and tools and raising users’ awareness of those measures and tools.
Video-sharing platform service providers have the same obligations as audiovisual service providers in respect of advertising and other content restrictions, taking into account the limited control they can exercise over advertising on their platforms that is not marketed, sold or arranged by them.
Promoting European and independent works
Providers of on-demand audiovisual media services must have a minimum 30% share of European works in their catalogues and ensure prominence of such works.
Application & Background
The original AVMSD has applied since 5 May 2010. The changes introduced by Directive (EU) 2018/1808 have applied since 18 December 2018 and has to become law in the EU countries by 19 September 2020.
For more information, see:
Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) (European Commission)
Digital single market (European Commission).
Audiovisual media service: a service providing programmes, under the editorial responsibility of a media service provider, to the general public, to inform, entertain or educate, using electronic communications networks, either broadcast or on-demand.
On-demand audiovisual media service: an audiovisual media service provided by a media service provider for the viewing of programmes at the moment chosen by the user and at his individual request on the basis of a catalogue of programmes selected by the media service provider.
Video-sharing platform service: a service offering programmes, user-generated videos, or both, to the general public, for which the video-sharing platform provider does not have editorial responsibility, in order to inform, entertain or educate, using electronic communications networks, and the organisation of which is determined by the video-sharing platform provider, including by use of automatic means or algorithms, in particular by displaying, tagging and sequencing.
Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, pp. 1-24)
Successive amendments to Directive 2010/13/EU have been incorporated in the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Directive (EU) 2017/541 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA (OJ L 88, 31.3.2017, pp. 6-21)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A digital single market strategy for Europe (COM(2015) 192 final, 6.5.2015)
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (OJ C 326, 26.10.2012, pp. 391-407)
Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive) (OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, pp. 33-50)
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