One of the most important European Commission proposals for the current legislature, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) as part of the Digital Single Market strategy for Europe, was debated by the Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) on Monday. 

MEPs gathered to analyse the Commission’s amended proposal on various topics in this directive, amongst them the issue of accessibility, the country of origin principle and jurisdiction, advertising, the promotion of European audiovisual works, the protection of minors and hate speech, and the independence of audiovisual regulators. 

Commenting after the debate, GUE/NGL MEP and shadow rapporteur on the AVMSD Curzio Maltese said:

“Independence and media pluralism as well as freedom of speech are already under tremendous pressure.”

“With the two rapporteurs, Ms Verheyen (EPP) and Ms Kammerevert (S&D), also in the spotlight due to a potential conflict of interest thanks to their roles at Germany’s body that oversees public broadcasters, this was akin to a ‘grosse Koalition’ in the Parliament,” said Curzio.

“The draft report undermines the role of ERGA (European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services directive) – the independent body tasked by the directive to deliver independent advice, to assist the Commission in its work of ensuring the correct implementation of the AVMSD and to monitor all provisions related to the protection of minors. We will considerably amend this proposal which is a direct threat to a basic democratic right,” concluded the Italian MEP.

German MEP Martina Michels was equally damning of the report:

“Given that the independence of national media has already been hijacked by the governments in Hungary and Poland, the legislative proposals put forward by the co-rapporteurs completely undermine the independence of media regulators from political powers.”

“These amendments seek to replace the regulatory cooperation role of the ERGA by the contact committee made up of national governments’ representatives and MEPs – all with their own political interests,” said Michels.

“GUE/NGL cannot accept the removal of major criteria of independence from political power which is the protection of Media Regulators executives from political dismissals.”

“We will need to examine closely the paragraphs that deal with the territorial principle and the harmonised advertising rules, especially for product placement and how they might affect consumers – especially children and young people when it comes to new media platforms.”

“As regards the protection of minors, we would prefer illegal content to be removed completely from platforms instead of just simply blocking them from view,” concluded Michels.

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