Project Description

The “Television Without Frontiers” (TWF) Directive, adopted in 1989, constitutes the cornerstone of the European Community’s engagement in the area of media law. This regulatory scheme takes the form of a directive, by setting minimum standards for broadcasters established in the Member States of the Union and according the states the opportunity to impose stricter or more detailed rules on their respective territories.

The country of origin principle, one of the pillars of this directive, has been heralded, and deservedly so, as a great success for the establishment of a single broadcasting market. Other areas of regulation, among them the advertising content and frequency as well as the protection of minors, imply a daily significance and demonstrate a depth of harmonisation that is often underestimated by the ordinary citizen.

The TWF directive, including its 1997 revision, survived for almost two decades until the European Commission initiated its adaptation to the undeniable convergence of the media and the profoundly changing media landscape.
The result of these adjustments is the “Audiovisual Media Services” (AVMS) Directive of 2007 (codified in the AVMS Directive of 2010/13/EU), which is the basis of our analysis. As compared to its predecessor, this directive’s scope has been enlarged to regulate not only linear ‘television’ services but also to encompass non-linear, individualised services. Additionally, the rules on advertising have been liberalised and comprise a complexly structured rule on product placement which has been controversially debated across Europe.

Due to the major implications of this directive on the European broadcasting and audiovisual media services market, it is our aim to draft a comparative commentary about the transposition of this directive in the 28 Member States of the Union. The commentary will be published in English with Nomos/Hart/Beck publishers. The method utilised may be a precedent and a model for other areas of European law where national legislative action is required.

In practical terms, as a first step this project necessitates the collection of the national execution measures and their subsequent translation into the target language, which is English. In a second step, these acts will be compared and legally assessed in order to pinpoint differences between the Member States or particularities in certain fields of regulation. The project is divided into different working packages which will each involve an examination, provision by provision, of a chapter of rules of the directive.
The interpretation of the provisions will take into consideration not only the wording and grammatical sense but also the systematic context, the legislative history and especially the meaning and purpose of the provision. In addition, recourse will also be taken, as far as is possible, to the national and European case law interpreting either the EU directive or its implementing national acts.

By this approach, we hope to offer valuable insights into the margin of discretion Member States have at their disposal when transposing European Union law by highlighting differences and similarities of national regulatory regimes.