CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (028/09) issued by COI News
Distribution Service. 11 March 2009
Andy Burnham announced today how he intends to proceed on some key
broadcasting policies set out under the EU Audiovisual Media
The Government has called for the video-on-demand industry to
work together to help form a co-regulatory body that will maintain
standards of content. The Government also intends to maintain the
current rules preventing product placement in programmes made for
British television. The plans put forward today are part of the
UK's obligation to implement the EU Audiovisual Media
Services (AVMS) Directive, and follow a three month consultation.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham said:
"My priority has always been to make sure we maintain levels
of trust between audiences and broadcasters, and protect the
standards of broadcasting for which Britain is known worldwide.
"I have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides
around product placement, and concluded that it should not be
permitted in programmes made for this country. There is a lack of
evidence of economic benefits, along with very serious concerns
about blurring the boundaries between advertising and editorial.
"Britain is known around the world for the high quality of
its broadcasting output. We need to continue to preserve
editorial integrity as technology advances.
"I am well aware that a number of commercial broadcasters
are facing difficult economic times and I will continue to work
with the industry to explore ways we can support them, but my
preference is to consider all other avenues before allowing
Under the Directive the UK and other member states have until
December this year to implement the compulsory elements which are
expected to lead to new legislation. The three areas in which work
now has to go forward are:
- introducing a system for regulating video-on-demand services in
- controls over the content of non-EU satellite channels which
are uplinked from a ground station in the UK; and
- product placement in television and video-on-demand services.
For the first time common standards are being brought in for
video-on-demand services across the EU. A co-regulatory body led
and funded by the industry will take on responsibility for
regulating programme content on video-on-demand services in the
UK. Under the new rules, all UK providers of VOD services will
need to notify the co-regulator that they are providing a service
and Ofcom will be given 'backstop' powers to deal with
serious or repeated breaches of standards.
Satellite television channels from outside the EU which are
uplinked from the UK will be required to have a broadcasting
licence issued by Ofcom. Providers of uplink services will be
required to stop uplinking a channel if they are informed by Ofcom
the channel does not have a licence, or that it is in breach of
its licence conditions.
Product placement is currently banned on any UK made programmes.
Under the AVMS Directive all EU member states must prohibit
product placement but can decide to allow certain exemptions.
Today the Government has announced that the current position will
remain unchanged. Product placement will continue to be banned in
programmes made by and for UK television broadcasters. It will
continue to be allowed in video-on-demand programmes, and in films
and television programmes acquired from outside the UK, subject to
the limitations and safeguards imposed by the Directive.
The Government has said it will review the position on television
product placement in 2011/12, taking into account the conclusions
reached by Ofcom on the quantity and the distribution of
television advertising, changes in viewing habits and any new
evidence about the impact and potential benefits of product placement.
The Government will continue to work with all those involved to
establish the new arrangements.
Notes to editors
1. The AVMS Directive came into force in December 2007. The UK
and all other Member States have until December 2009 to implement
it in their domestic law. It revises and updates the existing
Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive which was adopted in
1989 and amended in 1997.
2. A summary of the consultation responses can be found at http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/publications/5911.aspx
3. The Directive also allows TV broadcasters to use short
extracts of other broadcasters' exclusive coverage of sports
and other major events to use in news reports. The Government is
considering this separately from other AVMS issues and there will
be an announcement on this later.
4. Video-on-demand services only come within the scope of the
AVMS Directive if they are mass media services whose principal
purpose is to provide TV programmes to the public on demand.
5. The AVMS Directive has changed EU law about satellite TV
channels from outside Europe which can be received in the EU. The
Directive makes the Member State where the uplink is located (the
ground station which relays the signal up to the satellite)
responsible for ensuring that a channel of this sort does not
transmit unacceptable material.
6. The Government plans to implement the AVMS Directive using an
Order under section 2.2 of the European Communities Act 1972. This
allows amendments to UK law to be made through secondary legislation.
7. Further information about the TVWF and AVMS Directives is
available on the European Commission's website at http://www.ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/reg/avms/index_en.htm
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