IRIS newsletter 2020-5
European Audiovisual Observatory
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Tel. : +33 (0) 3 90 21 60 00
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Executive Director: Susanne Nikoltchev
Maja Cappello, Editor • Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Sophie Valais, Julio Talavera Milla, Deputy Editors (European Audiovisual Observatory)
Artemiza-Tatiana Chisca , Media Division of the Directorate of Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg (France) • Mark D. Cole, Institute of European Media Law (EMR), Saarbrücken (Germany) • Bernhard Hofstötter, DG Connect of the European Commission, Brussels (Belgium) • Tarlach McGonagle, Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) • Andrei Richter, Central European University (Hungary)
Council to the Editorial Board: Amélie Blocman, Legipresse
Documentation/Press Contact: Alison Hindhaugh
Tel.: +33 (0)3 90 21 60 10
Sabine Bouajaja, European Audiovisual Observatory (co-ordination) • Paul Green • Marco Polo Sarl • Nathalie Sturlèse • Brigitte Auel • Erwin Rohwer • Sonja Schmidt • Ulrike Welsch
Sabine Bouajaja, European Audiovisual Observatory (co-ordination) • Sophie Valais, Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez and Julio Talavera Milla • Aurélie Courtinat • Barbara Grokenberger • Jackie McLelland
Distribution: Nathalie Fundone, European Audiovisual Observatory
Tel.: +33 (0)3 90 21 60 06
Coordination: Cyril Chaboisseau, European Audiovisual Observatory
© 2020 European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg (France)
One month has passed since our previous newsletter and the world is still in lockdown, although to different degrees according to each country. While waiting anxiously to learn what the new normal will bring, European countries continue to introduce several support measures for the audiovisual industry, also in different shapes and forms, and this edition of the newsletter bears ample witness to that.
One month has also passed since we announced the publication of our tracking tool to monitor the audiovisual sector-specific measures taken in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. This tool, which will be updated on an ongoing basis until this crisis is resolved, already contains more than 500 entries! Now, given the importance of the topic and the growing body of information around it, we have decided to prepare an IRIS Plus report (hopefully to be published during the summer) which will provide an overview of how the COVID-crisis is affecting the industry, together with a comparative analysis of the audiovisual sector-specific measures described in our tracking tool. We are sure that this report will be of interest to you.
In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy your read!
Maja Cappello, editor
European Audiovisual Observatory
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
ECtHR: Pendov v. Bulgaria
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has delivered a judgment in which it found, apart from a violation of Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a breach of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression under Article 10 ECHR, due to the seizure of a server and the limitation of the functionality of a website. In this case, the applicant complained of the seizure and retention by the Bulgarian prosecution authorities of his computer server, in the context of criminal proceedings for a copyright infringement against third parties. The retention...
CoE: CDMM / CDMC
Freedom of expression and information in times of crisis
On 21 March 2020, the Council of Europe (COE) Committee of Experts on Media Environment and Reform (MSI-REF) issued a Statement on Freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, in light of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The MSI-REF was established in March 2020, and under the supervision of the COE Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI), is currently preparing a draft recommendation to member states on guiding principles for media and communication governance; a draft recommendation to member states on election communication and media coverage of election...
ECtHR: Basok v. Russia
Once again, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found that Russia violated a journalist’s right to gather news (see also Butkevich v. Russia, IRIS 2018-4/2). The ECtHR found that the aggressive behaviour of a senior policeman trying to stop a journalist from taking pictures documenting a news story amounted to a breach of the journalist’s right to freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The applicant, Yuriy Borisovich Basok, was acting as a freelance journalist for an Internet news portal when he was...
ECtHR: Centre for Democracy and the Rule of Law v. Ukraine
Shortly after its judgment in the Studio Monitori and Others v. Georgia case (IRIS 2020-4:1/7), the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has delivered a judgment that elaborates further on the right of access to public documents as part of the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECtHR unanimously found that a refusal by the Ukrainian authorities to give a non-governmental organisation (NGO) access to information about the education and work history of top politicians running for parliament, as contained in their official CVs,...
[AT] COVID-19 support measures
Measures taken to contain the coronavirus are having a huge impact on the audiovisual sector, forcing filming to be suspended and cinemas to close. This is creating considerable financial difficulties for the audiovisual industry. In Austria, various support measures have been taken by several organisations in order to minimise the effects of the crisis. Some have been specifically introduced for the audiovisual sector, some are aimed at creative artists outside the audiovisual sector, while others are more general in nature. The Verwertungsgesellschaft für audiovisuelle Medien GmbH (Collecting...
BILD Digital Live TV streaming service approved
On 31 March 2020, the Kommission für Zulassung und Aufsicht (Commission on Licensing and Supervision – ZAK) of the Landesmedienanstalten (regional media authorities) issued a broadcasting licence to BILD GmbH for its nationwide linear streaming service BILD Digital Live TV. BILD GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of Axel Springer SE, had applied to the Medienanstalt Berlin-Brandenburg (Berlin-Brandenburg media authority – mabb) for a licence at the end of January 2020. The permanent licence was granted under Article 20a of the Rundfunkstaatsvertrag (Inter-State Broadcasting Agreement –...
[DE] German media regulators adopt simpler notification procedure during coronavirus crisis
On 20 March 2020, the Direktorenkonferenz der Medienanstalten (Conference of Regional Media Authority Directors - DLM) agreed on a pragmatic notification procedure for the live streaming of cultural and religious events and educational programmes during the coronavirus crisis after the competent state authorities in Germany ordered a shutdown aimed at combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the cancellation of all cultural and religious events and the closure of educational institutions under state measures taken to fight the coronavirus, the live streaming of cultural and religious events...
[DE] Coronavirus crisis: German film support agencies launch joint aid programme
In an effort to reduce the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the German film and cinema industry, film support agencies at federal and regional levels have launched a joint aid programme. On 27 March 2020, the national Filmförderanstalt (Film Support Agency – FFA) announced that the programme would fund the production, rental and cinema sectors to the tune of EUR 15 million. The measures, which are designed to be implemented quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy, took immediate effect. The coronavirus pandemic is having a direct impact on the entire film industry. Some elements...
[DE] Federal Government tables another NetzDG draft amendment
On 1 April 2020, the German Federal Gover nment adopted a bill to amend the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (Network Enforcement Act – NetzDG). The proposed reforms are designed, on the basis of lessons learned from the application of the Act, to improve users’ rights in relation to unauthorised deletions and account blocking, and to simplify the process for asserting information rights. They therefore supplement the changes proposed in February under the Gesetzentwurf zur Bekämpfung des Rechtsextremismus und der Hasskriminalität (Draft Act to combat right-wing extremism and...
[DE] Politician Renate Künast wins another partial success following Facebook insults
On 11 March 2020, the Kammergericht Berlin (Berlin Appeal Court) issued another decision in the case concerning German Green Party politician Renate Künast. It partially amended, in the politician’s favour, the decision taken by the Landgericht Berlin (Berlin District Court) following Künast’s claim against a social media platform for the publication of user data, and decided that a further six of the 22 disputed user comments were libellous. The district court’s original decision not to classify any of the posts as libellous had been heavily criticised by the general...
[DE] Recognition granted to first self-regulatory body for illegal social network content analysis
The German Bundesamt für Justiz (Federal Ministry of Justice) has recognised the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia-Diensteanbieter e. V. (FSM) as the first regulated self-regulatory body for the analysis of illegal social network content. This means that online platforms, as part of their obligations to check content, can ask the FSM to decide whether content that users have uploaded to their platform is unlawful. Since the entry into force of the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz (Network Enforcement Act – NetzDG) in Germany in 2017, social network providers have become more accountable...
[ES] Cultural industries and COVID-19 in Spain
Cultural industries in Spain, and specifically live entertainment (music, theatre, dance, cinemas, etc.), have been seriously damaged by the lockdown due to COVID-19. The Spanish Government has issued certain rules and benefits to minimise the impact of the pandemic among self-employed people in general. The Minister of Culture was seriously critised when he declared that there would be no public aid for the cultural sector. However, in a meeting on Friday, 17 April with all the Counsellors of Culture of the Autonomous Communities and Federation of Cities, he seemed to rectify this, but without...
[FR] COVID-19: support for the audiovisual and cultural sector
With cinemas closed, filming suspended and festivals cancelled, the cultural sector is being hit particularly hard by the current health crisis. On 18 March 2020, Minister of Culture Franck Riester announced various measures and emergency funding of EUR 22 million to support the sector. Those working in the sector can also benefit from the general emergency measures adopted by the government, which include grants from the solidarity fund (initially worth EUR 1 billion, then increased to EUR 7 billion); the deferral or staggering of rent, tax and social security payments; and the mobilisation of...
[FR] Exceptional relaxing of release window policy due to coronavirus epidemic
As part of an exceptional set of measures contained in Article 17 of the Emergency Act to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, which was enacted on 23 March 2020, a week after the President of the French Republic declared the lockdown of the French population, the president of the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (National Centre of Cinematography and the Moving Image – CNC) is allowed to grant an exemption from the official four-month window between a film’s cinema release and its release on VOD, DVD or Blu-Ray for films that were being shown in cinemas on...
[FR] Neighbouring rights: publishers secure initial victory against Google before competition authority
With the adoption of the Act of 24 July 2019 creating a neighbouring right for press publishers and agencies, France became the first country to transpose the EU Copyright Directive’s provisions on neighbouring rights. Under the Act, a search engine’s use of article excerpts (‘snippets’) may be negotiated in the form of a licence agreement with the relevant publishers, in return for payment, if the excerpts are read rather than the original article (see IRIS 2019-9:1/17). However, on the day the new provisions entered into force, 24 October 2019, Google announced its...
[FR] CSA issues stern warning to LCI following debate on vaccine trials in Africa
In a press release issued on 14 April, the French national audiovisual regulatory authority (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel – CSA) wrote: “During this severe health crisis, a time when questions, the need for information and issues surrounding social cohesion are more important than ever, the media carry enormous responsibility. This requires them to be vigilant at all times in view of the serious risk of misinformation and to be particularly rigorous in the presentation and processing of information, including in visual illustrations.” This stern warning was...
[GB] An overview of how COVID-19 is effecting the UK media industry
The effects of COVID-19 and the lockdown have dramatically affected the UK film and TV industry, with cinemas closed and most studios shut as productions are suspended. Below is a summary reflecting the impact this has had on the industry. For example, soaps such as BBC’s Eastenders and ITV’s Coronation Street and Emmerdale have had their production suspended for the foreseeable future and fewer episodes are being broadcast each week to maximise the supply of pre-filmed material. However, as a significant proportion of the British population are confined to their homes, there...
[GB] The High Court upholds Ofcom’s GBP 200 000 fine against RT for breach of impartiality rules
London’s High Court rejected RT’s judicial review application to overturn Ofcom’s record GBP 200 000 fine against the broadcaster for breaching impartiality rules relating to several programmes about events in the Ukraine, the war in Syria and the Salisbury poisoning. RT is the Autonomous Non-Profit Organisation TV-Novosti, a Russian corporation which holds a licence to broadcast the RT television service in the United Kingdom. Ofcom had opened its investigation after receiving viewer complaints about RT’s coverage of the March 2018 poisoning of Serge Skripal and his...
[IE] Advertising Standards Authority issues reminder to advertisers not to make unsubstantiated or misleading claims about COVID-19
On 7 April 2020, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the independent self-regulatory body responsible for promoting the standards of marketing communications in Ireland, issued a reminder to advertisers that “any claims being made for products and services referring to COVID-19 should be adequately substantiated.” The ASAI issued the reminder following complaints it had received regarding a number of advertisements for products and services relating to COVID-19 on the grounds that they were misleading. The ASAI stated that it was “absolutely...
[IE] Broadcasting Authority announces COVID-19 funding initiatives to support the broadcasting sector
On 8 April 2020, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) announced details of a special funding round to support the independent commercial radio sector in its “provision of public awareness and understanding of COVID-19, including the risks and public health measures being implemented to reduce the spread of the disease.” The special funding round will operate under the BAI’s existing Sound & Vision Scheme, which is financed by the TV licence fee from the “Broadcasting Fund” established under the Broadcasting (Funding) Act 2003. The special round was developed...
[IT] Agcom has found breach of principles of transparency and non-discrimination of the RAI Public Service Contract
On 13 February 2020, the Italian Communications Authority (Agcom) established Rai's failure to comply with the principles of transparency and non-discrimination provided for in the 2018/2022 Service Contract (IRIS 2020-4:1/21). During the proceeding which was launched on 2 August 2019, it was found that the pricing policy adopted by Rai in the previous years was incompatible with the current negotiating provision that binds the public service broadcaster to adopt transparent practices in the sale of advertising space. Agcom found that it was impossible to identify ex ante the procedure applied...
[IT] COVID-19: Agcom suspends two TV programmes for broadcasting content prejudicial to health
On 14 April 2020, the Italian Communications Authority (Agcom) ordered a six-month suspension of the activity of content dissemination by audiovisual media services on channel 880 of digital satellite (SAT) and channel 61 of digital terrestrial (DTT) exercised by Italian Broadcasting Srl and Mediacom Srl respectively, following the broadcasting of the programme The Health Seeker and the special What they didn't tell you about the Corona-virus in relation to Adriano Panzironi's Life120 method. Panzironi is an Italian journalist, known for being the creator and promoter of a diet called Life...
[IT] COVID-19: The measures adopted by Italy to support the entertainment, cinema and audiovisual sectors
The Italian Government has adopted a series of measures aimed at countering the economic difficulties experienced by the entertainment, cinema and audiovisual sectors, following the interruption of activities due to the COVID-19 emergency. These measures are contained in Decree-Law No. 18, the so-called Cura Italia Decree, which was adopted on 17 March 2020 by the government and which is currently being voted on by the Italian Parliament. Due to its legal nature, the decree will take immediate effect, but must be converted into a law within 60 days of its adoption. Article 89 of the Decree-Law...
[MT] Broadcasting during the Period Related to the Coronavirus Pandemic
By means of a press release dated 13 March 2020, the Broadcasting Authority requested journalists and broadcasters to exercise caution as to how they report on developments connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Broadcasting Authority warned that the requirement that journalists and broadcasters stick only to facts remained paramount in this sensitive period. Apart from the fact that journalistic ethics requires that whatever journalists report be verified with official sources, ethical conduct demands that all reports be accurate and grounded on facts. In this way, the listener and viewer is...
[NL] COVID-19 measures implemented by Netherlands Film Fund
On 20 March 2020, the Netherlands Film Fund (Nederlands Filmfonds), the national agency responsible for supporting film production and film-related activities in the Netherlands, announced a number of important measures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Four specific measures were announced for the film and audiovisual sector. First, the Fund announced that there would be an easing of the subsidy conditions and obligations currently being implemented for films and film activities already subsidised by the Fund. For example, this will include an extension for film productions with...
[NL] Court rejects politician’s claim against public broadcaster
On 25 March 2020, the District Court of Midden-Nederland (Rechtbank Midden-Nederland) ruled that the Dutch public broadcaster VPRO was not obliged to rectify the paraphrased statements of the well-known politician Thierry Baudet that were broadcast on the influential Dutch television programme Buitenhof. Baudet had publicly asked for a rectification, which had attracted a considerable amount of media attention to the case. The case revolved around a paraphrased question put by the presenter of the political programme Buitenhof. The presenter paraphrased a statement made by Thierry Baudet, who...
[PT] Contingency measures to support film and audiovisual
On 23 March 2020, the Minister for Culture, Graça Fonseca, publicly announced contingency measures to support the arts, including the film and audiovisual sector. In an official message, Graça Fonseca stated that the more general emergency measures announced by the Prime Minister, António Costa, on the previous day were bound to have a transversal impact on all sectors and that they did apply to the cultural sector. To assist in clarifying all issues related to the applicability of these general measures to the arts and cultural sector, the ministry has prepared a website designed...
[RO] Emergency measures for the Romanian Film Industry during the State of Emergency
On 26 March 2020, the Board of the National Cinematography Centre (Centrul Naţional al Cinematografiei - CNC) issued Decision No. 61 with regard to the emergency measures taken in the context of the state of emergency in Romania due to the coronavirus pandemic. The measures were harshly criticised by the Romanian film professionals. With regard to direct credit for the production of films, the Decision stipulates that: 1) The deadlines for the conclusion of direct credit contracts for film production are postponed during the state of emergency; 2) Projects due to receive the first two installments...
[RU] Cinemas are included in the list of supported sectors
On 10 April, the Russian Government published a Resolution "On amendments to the list of sectors of the Russian economy the worst affected in the deteriorating situation with the spread of a new coronavirus infection." According to this document, the section "Culture, leisure and entertainment" was supplemented with "activities in the field of film exhibition." This decision was reached with the direct participation of the Association of Cinema Owners. It should be noted that the Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov called on the government to include...