IRIS newsletter 2023-1
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, Amélie Lacourt, Justine Radel , Deputy Editors (European Audiovisual Observatory)
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 • Glenn Ford • Claire Windsor
Coordination: Cyril Chaboisseau, European Audiovisual Observatory
© 2023 European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg (France)
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit, which should bring longevity, peace, and prosperity. One can only hope that all this will be realised for the whole world, and especially for the Ukrainian people.
The year 2022 did not, however, end with signs of peace, and this was reflected in the additional sanctions adopted by the Council of the EU against Russian media outlets. In France, the media regulator ARCOM issued a formal notice to Eutelsat to cease the broadcasting of three Russian channels after the Council of State asked ARCOM to re-examine their situation.
The year 2023 may be the year of the Water Rabbit for the Chinese, but for the European audiovisual sector it will most likely be the year of the EMFA. The European Commission considers that there is a need for more EU legislation in the media field, and has therefore proposed an EU Regulation, the so-called European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). The first reactions to this proposal have already appeared. For example, in Germany, both the Broadcasting Commission of the German Länder and the Bundesrat have expressed critical views on its legal basis.
The European Audiovisual Observatory will add its contribution to the discussion with a Note entitled “The proposal for a European Media Freedom Act”. This publication presents, in a factual, neutral way, the main lines of the EMFA proposal, looking both at the proposed rules themselves and at the first views expressed by regulators, industry stakeholders and academia.
On behalf of the entire team of the European Audiovisual Observatory, I wish you a healthy, peaceful and successful 2023!
Maja Cappello, Editor
European Audiovisual Observatory
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
European Court of Human Rights: Mas Gavarró v. Spain
In a decision of 18 October 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) saw no reason to consider a violation of the right to privacy and reputation based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It declared an application by Artur Mas Gavarró, the former President of the Government of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, manifestly ill-founded after the Spanish courts had dismissed Mr. Gavarró’s complaint against the newspaper El Mundo for alleged criminal defamation. The ECtHR confirmed that, in order to be in accordance with the right to freedom...
Four additional Russian media outlets added to the list of banned media in the EU
On 16 December 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a Decision (CFSP) 2022/2478 banning four further media outlets to the list of Russian broadcasters prohibited in the EU, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (see IRIS 2022-3/6). The Council Decision amended Annex IX of previous Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine. The new broadcasters are the following: NTV/NTV Mir, Rossiya 1, REN TV and Pervyi Kanal. The list now contains more than a dozen banned media outlets (such...
[BG] Bill for implementation of Directive 2019/789 and Directive 2019/790 submitted to the Parliament
On 22 November 2022, the caretaker government in Bulgaria submitted the Законопроект за изменение и допълнение на Закона авторското право и сродните му права (draft Bill for amendment and supplement to the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act – the Bill) to Parliament for adoption. The Bill would transpose the EU directives concerning copyright, namely: 1) Directive 2019/789 laying down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes; and 2)...
[CZ] Broadcasting Council imposes fine for inappropriate advertisment
The television broadcaster, AMC Networks Central Europe s.r.o., has been found by the Broadcasting Council to have committed an offence contracy to Article 60(1)(l) of Act No. 231/2001 Coll. by violating the provisions of Article 49(1)(c) of the same Act. Under this last Article, broadcasters are obliged to ensure that any commercial communication regarding erotic services and products, or human medicinal products or dietary supplements to support erections and sexual performance are not broadcast between 06:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. At 2:07 p.m. on 15 January 2022, the network's SPORT2...
KJM approves age verification system based on biometric age checks
On 7 November 2022, the Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media – KJM) announced that it had approved another age verification system, which means there are now 102 KJM-approved age verification systems on the market. The latest system to be approved, known as “FaceAssure”, was devised by Privately SA. Machine learning was used to train it to estimate a person’s age based on their biometric features. In order to mitigate the fact that some young people look older than they really are, the KJM requires the system to...
[DE] Broadcasting Commission and Federal Council adopt position on EMFA
At its meeting on 19 October 2022, the Rundfunkkommission (Broadcasting Commission) of the German Länder expressed its views on the proposed European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). The draft Act had been published by the European Commission on 16 September. The EMFA is designed to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU. It also includes special rules for public service media and establishes an EU-wide media regulation authority. Its key objective is to protect the independence of the media and media professionals. It bans state interference, in particular direct and indirect state...
[DE] Public broadcasting reforms adopted
At their meeting on 21 October 2022, the Minister-Presidents of the German Bundesländer adopted the 3. Medienänderungsstaatsvertrag (third state treaty amending the state media treaty), which, among other things, sets out the framework for public service broadcasting in Germany, defines the remit of the broadcasters that make up the ARD, ZDF and Deutschlandradio, and contains guidelines for jointly organised channels and additional services. At the heart of the reforms is a new definition of the remit of public broadcasters. Under their remit, the public broadcasters are to act as...
[FR] ARCOM issues C8 with formal notice for failing to exercise restraint in relation to ongoing judicial proceedings and opens sanction procedure
Following a heated argument between TV presenter Cyril Hanouna and an opposition MP on the set of the programme ‘Touche pas à mon poste’, broadcast on C8 on 10 November 2022, the French audiovisual regulator, ARCOM, through its director general, announced that it had referred the matter to the independent rapporteur, a member of the Conseil d’Etat, in accordance with Article 42-7 of the Law of 30 September 1986. Taking into account previous warnings issued to the C8 channel, the rapporteur considered that the incident justified the instigation of a sanction procedure. The...
[FR] Conseil d’Etat powerless to annul ARCOM’s formal notice requiring pornographic website to block access to minors
The provider of the Pornhub website asked the Conseil d'Etat (Council of State) to annul the formal notice addressed to it on 13 December 2021 by the president of the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (the previous French audiovisual regulator – CSA), which has since been replaced by ARCOM, on the grounds that the CSA had acted outside its remit. Alleging that the company was allowing minors to access pornographic content, the formal notice ordered it to take all necessary measures to comply with Article 227-24 of the Penal Code. According to Article 23 of the Law of 30...
[FR] Suspension of ARCOM decision on Eutelsat retransmission of Russian channels
French company Eutelsat, in which the French state is the biggest shareholder, provides the satellite transmission of television channels and radio stations including Russian channels Rossiya 1, Perviy Kanal and NTV, which are distributed by NTV+ and Trikolor in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries. Since July 2022, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international non-profit organisation that seeks to defend and promote freedom of information, has been challenging Eutelsat’s activities. It claims that content broadcast by the Russian channels breaches the obligations of audiovisual...
[GB] Ofcom Opinion determines BBC News online article breached BBC Editorial Guidelines.
Ofcom has issued an opinion concerning a BBC News online article published on the 2 December 2021 about an antisemitic attack on Jewish students. The article was considered not to have observed due accuracy and impartiality with the consequence of being in breach of the BBC’s Editorial’s Guidelines. Additionally, Ofcom investigated a news broadcast on the BBC concerning the same attack and this was found not to have breached Rule 5.1 (due accuracy and impartiality) and 5.2 (correcting significant mistakes quickly) of the Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code. On the 29 November 2021 a...
[GB] Ofcom reports on its first year of VSP regulation
Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, published its first report on video-sharing platforms (VSPs) since becoming the statutory regulator for such platforms established in the UK. This is the first of its kind under the VSP regime and reveals information previously unpublished by in-scope regulated companies. - Platforms’ compliance with the new VSP regime Ofcom’s report outlines the regulator’s key outcomes from the first year of regulation (October 2021 to October 2022). Its findings stem from the use of the regulator’s statutory powers under section 368Z10(3)...
[IT] The Italian Court of Cassation allows global delisting/removal orders against search engines
On 15 November 2022 through decision no. 34658/2022 (the Decision), the Italian Court of Cassation confirmed the legitimacy of global delisting/removal orders against search engines. The case originated in 2017 when the Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la Protezione dei Dati Personali – Garante) ordered a search engine to delist from its services the URLs that were the object of the proceedings, and also referred to the non-European versions of the same search engine, thereby issuing a de facto global delisting order. The search engine appealed the Garante’s decision...
[MD] Six Moldovan TV channels suspended
On 16 December 2022, the Commission for Emergency Situations (CSE), chaired by the Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, adopted a resolution that affected the audiovisual landscape of Moldova. The CSE was established in January 2022 to counteract the energy crisis in the country against the background of the state of emergency, introduced by the Parliament of Moldova. Its decisions are obligatory for public authorities, legal entities and individuals in the country. The official statement says: “In order to protect the national information space and prevent the risk of disinformation through...
[NL] Court rules that newspaper article critical of tax advisors was within the limits of journalistic freedom
On 18 November 2022, the Rechtbank Amsterdam (Amsterdam District Court) delivered a judgment on the scope of journalistic freedom. The case concerned an online newspaper article about the modus operandi of two fairly well-known legal and tax advisors. While the advisors were portrayed particularly negatively, the Court ruled that the article was not unlawful and did not have to be corrected. Importantly, it held that the advisors should be considered "public figures" subject to increased criticism, and that the statements in the article had had a suffient factual basis. The article...
[NL] Report on the safety of female journalists in the Netherlands
On 1 December 2022, a major report on the safety of female journalists was published. It included the finding that 8 out of 10 female journalists in the Netherlands have experienced some form of intimidation, aggression, or threats; and that this was “alarmingly common”. The report was published by PersVeilig - a well-known joint initiative of Dutch journalists and law enforcement, comprised of the Dutch Association of Journalists, Dutch Association of Editors in Chief, the Dutch Police and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service - and aims to strengthen the position of...
[RO] Audiovisual media and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
The National Audiovisual Council (CNA) joined the national campaign launched for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, and supported by the Government of Romania through the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities (see inter alia IRIS 2011-9/31, IRIS 2012-1/39, IRIS 2012-4/36, IRIS 2014-3/38, IRIS 2017-6/27, IRIS 2019-8/35, IRIS 2022-5/15, and IRIS 2022-8/24). In this context, the Council reminded broadcasters that in audiovisual programmes in which the topic of violence against women is addressed, it is mandatory to ensure that the public...
[RO] Modification of the Audiovisual Law rejected
On 24 October 2022, the Senate (upper chamber of the Romanian Parliament) rejected a draft law for the amendment and completion of Audiovisual Law no. 504/2002. The decision of the Senate was final (see inter alia IRIS 2011-4/31, IRIS 2011-7/37, IRIS 2013-3/26, IRIS 2013-6/27, IRIS 2014-1/37, IRIS 2014-2/31, IRIS 2014-7/29, IRIS 2015-1/27, IRIS 2016-10/24, IRIS 2017-1/30, IRIS 2017-7/28, IRIS 2018-6/30, IRIS 2018-8/36, IRIS 2018-10/22, IRIS 2019-1/31, IRIS 2019-2/21, IRIS 2019-4/29, IRIS 2019-5/22, and IRIS 2022-2/12). The draft law had been tacitly adopted by the Chamber of Deputies on...
[SI] Slovenian referendum on changes to the PSB Law
In a referendum held on 27 November 2022, the majority of Slovenian citizens voted in favour of a change to the Law on RTV Slovenia, the main aim of which was to depoliticise the public service broadcaster RTV Slovenia. This is to be achieved by removing the role of the National Assembly in appointing members to the governing body and by replacing the Director General with a four-person board. Since the change of government in Slovenia, the SDS (the opposition and former governing party) has pushed for a range of public referenda on legislative proposals of the new government. Two...
[UA] New statute on the media adopted
On 13 December 2022, the Ukrainian Parliament, the Supreme Rada, adopted, during its second and final reading, the draft statute “On the Media”. The statute was signed by the President on 29 December 2022, and officially published on 31 December 2022. The statute enters into force on 31 March 2023. This statute was debated by the deputies for several years and is one of the pledges that Ukraine undertook as a candidate country to the EU. It encompasses all forms of the media, and the relationship between various media actors. The statute is 279 pages long and has 10 chapters. One...