On 9 May, the European Parliament adopted its report on the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. We, organisations representing European audiovisual screenwriters, directors, composers, producers, distributors and sales agents,take this opportunity to insist on the importance of the AVMS Directive as the cornerstone of cultural regulations fostering European audiovisual creation, production and distribution.
In 2018, the revised AVMS Directive proposed two major advances:
- the obligation for on-demand audiovisual media services to provide a minimum share of 30% of European works in their catalogues and to ensure prominence of those works,
- the possibility for Member States to require media service providers under their jurisdiction or targeting audiences in their territories while established in other Member States, to contribute financially to the production of European works, including via direct investment in creation and / or contribution to national funds.
The overdue implementation of the AVMS Directive was finally completed at the end of December 2022. During these four years, each country reviewed its regulatory framework to tackle challenges raised by the accelerated consumption of audiovisual works online and the exponential rise of global streaming companies in the European production and distribution market: the new regulatory tools provided by the AVMS Directive played a crucial role in many Member States to design and update sectoral policies according to their cultural ambitions and the specificities of their local audiovisual ecosystems.
As noted in the European Parliament (EP) report, a majority of Member States (14 countries) have chosen to date to use the possibility offered by the revised directive to implement a financial contribution obligation on on-demand media service providers, reflecting the importance of this provision to secure and enhance the production of a diversity of European and independent works across Member States.
We therefore welcome the EP report’s emphasis on these key aspects of the revised Directive:
- “the role of the revised AVMS Directive (…) to support and benefit European cultural creation and cultural diversity in a changing audiovisual sector in line with other rules, such as the copyright provision of Directive (EU) 2019/790, which asks for fair remuneration for right holders” (Recital D),
- “the introduction of EU quota requirements (…) intended to promote the European creative ecosystem by increasing the exposure of EU audiences to European works and by offering more opportunities for European creations to reach viewers across the EU;” (para 30). It is important to insist on the importance of promotion and circulation of non-national European independent works to EU audiences, while we observe a trend by media services to focus on local works only.
- “the most recent revision of the AVMSD introduced a derogation mechanism for the country of origin principle, in particular under Article 13(2) thereof, intended to establish a better balance of rules applying to the various players providing the same service, while ensuring cultural diversity and fair competition between all players targeting a national market and maintaining a steady and diverse European creative ecosystem in these countries”; (para 31).
In the report proposals, we particularly welcome that it “Notes, that, while the calculation of quotas for television broadcasters in Article 16 of the AVMSD excludes news, sports events, games, advertising, teletext services and tele-shopping, an exclusion does not exist for audiovisual on-demand services; calls on the Commission to assess the types of programmes offered by audiovisual on-demand services that are comptabilised in the share of European works present in catalogues and made available prominently aiming to ensure that the focus of the quota achieves similar objectives as Article 16;” (para 34).
We now expect the Commission’s report on its application initially due by 19 December 2022 but delayed due to the late implementation by a few Member States.
In this context, we reiterate our attachment to the AVMS Directive and its provisions on the promotion and distribution of European works, calling on European institutions to prepare its potential revision in 2026 bearing its cultural diversity objective in mind, as well as the interest of European screenwriters, directors, composers, producers, distributors and sales agents of European audiovisual works.
In a changing European market where global players are on the rise, strengthening the European audiovisual ecosystem may well require reinforced obligations to ensure the continued diversity of our European audiovisual culture.
CEPI – the European Audiovisual Production Association
ECCD – the European Coalitions for Cultural Diversity
ECSA – the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance
EPC – the European Producers Club
FERA – the Federation of European Screen Directors
FSE – the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe
SAA – the Society of Audiovisual Authors