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The European Parliament yesterday passed the Audiovisual Directive, which aims to modernise and consolidate laws governing video content however it is transmitted.

The "Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive" covers all media services and grants citizens certain rights to "access extracts of important events for new purposes" and better access for hearing or visually-impaired people. It aims to provide converged regulation for an increasingly converged media world.

Under the new laws, broadcasters will have to make clear when and where product placement is taking place. But product placement in childrens' TV is still not allowed.

EU member states now have 24 months to move the provisions into national law so they will apply by 2009. The law keeps the country of origin rule - that you must obey the laws of the country where the broadcaster is based not all the countries in which programmes are subsequently broadcast.

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said: "With these modernised rules that improve legal certainty and reaffirm the country of establishment principle... There will be less regulation, better financing for content and greater visibility to cultural diversity and the protection of minors."

Daily limits for advertising remain at 12 minutes per hour, but total daily limits have been removed.

Yesterday also saw the commission call for a more inclusive digital society. It is launching an awareness campaign under the banner "e-Inclusion, be part of it!" to improve access to the internet and other digital services. This aims to "enable everyone to take part in the information society", to give access to those currently excluded more quickly and integrate actions across Europe to improve their effectiveness.

The EU release on the Audiovisual Directive is here and the e-inclusion stuff is here. ®

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