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EC relaxes rules for new format broadcasters

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The European Commission has relaxed the rules on advertising for the audiovisual sector in response to the growth of media services such as video-on-demand.

The commission is modernising its "Television without Frontiers" directive with the intention of creating a new "Audiovisual without Frontiers". The aim is to create a level playing field in Europe for emerging audiovisual services such as mobile TV.

Brussels intends to use the new directive to ensure audiovisual media service providers (other than regular TV broadcasters) such as providers of video-on-demand or providers of downloadable audiovisual content for mobiles, will have to comply only with communications legislation of the country where they are established - not with differing national legal systems of all 27 member states.

Rules on TV advertising are to be less detailed than under the current directive. The decision on how and when to interrupt free-to-air TV programmes by advertising will be left to broadcasters and filmmakers and not predetermined in Brussels.

Limitations to advertising will still apply though, and the overall quantity of advertising remains limited to 12 minutes in any given hour. Films, children's programmes, current affairs programmes, and news are not to be interrupted by adverts more than once every 30 minutes.

"New forms of commercial such as product placement have the potential to provide significant revenues for TV broadcasters and the audiovisual industry as a whole," said Viviane Reding, Information Society and Media Commissioner.

"I appreciate that both the European Parliament and the Council have supported the commission's view that here, we need to support the competitiveness of European film, while at the same time clearly excluding product placement from children's programmes, news, documentaries, and current affairs programmes."

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