The Reform of the European Community Audiovisual Media Regulation: Television Without Cultural Diversity
In the profoundly changing and dynamic world of contemporary audiovisual media, what has remained surprisingly unaffected is regulation. In the European Union, the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS), proposed by the European Commission on 13 December 2005, should allegedly rectify this situation. Amending the existing Television without Frontiers Directive, it should offer a “fresh approach” and meet the challenge of appropriately regulating media in a complex environment. It is meant to achieve a balance between the free circulation of TV broadcast and new audiovisual media and the preservation of values of cultural identity and diversity, while respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality inherent to the European Community (EC). This paper examines whether and how the changes envisaged to the EC audiovisual media regime might influence cultural diversity in Europe. It addresses subseqently the question of whether the new AVMS properly safeguards the balance between competition and the public interest in this regard, or whether cultural diversity remains a mere political banner. a
a Acknowledgements: The present study emerged from my work for the project “eDiversity: The Legal Protection of Cultural Diversity in a Digital Networked Environment,” part of the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR): Trade Regulation. This article would not have been possible without the previous work done by Christoph Beat Graber and his valuable comments. Further thanks go to Miriam Sahlfeld for critical feedback on earlier drafts and Susan Kaplan for improving the language. Any errors of fact or interpretation are my own.