IRIS newsletter 2024-2
European Audiovisual Observatory
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Executive Director: Susanne Nikoltchev
Maja Cappello, Editor • 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 and Amélie Lacourt • Linda Byrne • Glenn Ford • David Windsor • Aurélie Courtinat • Barbara Grokenberger
Coordination: Cyril Chaboisseau, European Audiovisual Observatory
© 2024 European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg (France)
Our loyal readers will remember that a year ago I hinted that 2023 would be the year of EMFA for the European audiovisual sector, and it certainly has been.
The year 2024 will likely be the year of Artificial Intelligence. After all the hype around the now-famous ChatGPT, 2024 should be the time when AI, particularly generative AI, really enters our lives with its share of wonders and its share of problems. And relatively obscure and complicated problems, I fear. Listen to what Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI and creator of ChatGPT, has to say: “The dangerous thing there is not what we already understand … but it’s all the new stuff — the known unknowns, the unknown unknowns [...] there’s a whole bunch of other things that we don’t know because we haven’t all seen what, you know, generative video or whatever can do, and that’s going to come fast and furious during an election year.”
Regulation is catching up: on 2 February 2024, the ambassadors of the 27 countries of the European Union unanimously approved the AI Act after lengthy negotiations. Numerous initiatives are also taken at national level to address the challenges posed by AI. You may be interested to read about the approaches taken in Austria, Slovenia, and the UK.
In this context, the Council of Europe deserves a special chapter. As you may know, our mother organisation is drafting a Framework Convention on the Development, Design and Application of Artificial Intelligence. This convention will be complemented by sectoral work across the organisation, and one example of this are the Guidelines for the Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence Systems in journalism, recently adopted by the CoE’s Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI).
And there is more, much more, to read on our electronic pages: for example, on the regulation of influencers in Spain and Italy, on the protection of minors on social media in Spain, and on the development of a guidance note by the Council of Europe on countering the spread of online mis- and disinformation.
All this AI-free guaranteed!
Enjoy your read!
Maja Cappello, Editor
European Audiovisual Observatory
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
European Court of Human Rights: Allée v. France
In a judgment of 18 January 2024 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of the right of a victim of sexual harassment to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The case concerns the applicant’s criminal conviction for public defamation following her allegations of harassment and sexual assault against a senior executive of the association where she worked. The ECtHR in particular stressed the need to provide appropriate protection to individuals alleging that they have been subjected to mental or sexual...
European Court of Human Rights: Narbutas v. Lithuania
In one of its last judgments in 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of an applicant’s rights both under Article 8 (right to privacy) and Article 10 (right to freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECtHR found that by disclosing the identity of the applicant on the day of his arrest, by exposing him to media coverage and by publishing several (online) press releases during the pre-trial investigation, the authorities had breached the applicant’s right to reputation under Article 8 ECHR. A ban imposed on the applicant...
Steering Committee on Media and Information Society
Good practices for sustainable news media financing
Recent years have witnessed a consistent deterioration in the sustainability of conventional business models of news media. Newspapers and audiovisual services have been facing a severe decrease in revenues from advertising due to the rise of new digital platforms competing in the advertising market, coupled with a decreased willingness to pay for news in light of the abundance of free news online. A general economic crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian aggression on Ukraine have exacerbated the situation. To be able to secure financial income in this context, news media need sustainable...
Steering Committee on Media and Information Society
Guidance Note on countering the spread of online mis- and disinformation
At its 24th Plenary meeting (29 November - 1 December 2023), the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI) adopted a Guidance Note on countering the spread of online mis- and disinformation through fact-checking and platform design solutions in a human rights compliant manner elaborated by its subordinate body, the Committee of Experts on the integrity of online information (MSI-INF). The Guidance Note is a response to the proliferation of various kinds of mis- and disinformation in the digital space, making it more challenging to maintain the...
Steering Committee on Media and Information Society
Guidelines on the responsible implementation of artificial intelligence systems in journalism
Recent years have seen a rapid change in the way we consume and produce news, information, and entertainment. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has opened new frontiers in journalism. Algorithms can now help with complex data analysis and fact-checking; they can power news recommendation systems to deliver personalised and engaging content to audiences; and they can also generate articles and video content. AI can be a valuable tool for journalists; it can greatly improve the efficiency of newsgathering and reporting. But it also raises many questions as to what it means for the future...
EU: Court of Justice of the European Union
Opinion of Advocate General Szpunar in the joined cases of Airbnb, Amazon et al.
In Italy, providers of online intermediation services and online search engines are required by law to be entered in a register and to provide information relating to their structure and economic situation, even if they are not established on Italian soil. This information must be provided to the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) and entered in the Register of Communications Operators (RCO). Service providers must also pay an annual contribution to AGCOM. Various providers of online intermediation services and online search engines (including Amazon and Airbnb, which are based...
EU: European Commission
The European Commission establishes the European Artificial Intelligence Office
On 2 February 2024, the members of the European Council unanimously approved the AI Act, after months of fierce negotiations between member states. A week earlier, on 24 January 2024, the European Commission had published a decision establishing the European Artificial Intelligence Office (the Office), which is part of the wider Commission effort to both foster the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the internal market and ensure that the public interest remains protected. As a part of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology,...
EU: European Parliament
European Parliament resolution on the rule of law and media freedom in Greece
On 7 February 2023, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the rule of law and media freedom in Greece, following debates held on 17 January 2023. This resolution was adopted under Rule 132(2) of the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure, which states that when a statement with debate has been placed on its agenda, Parliament shall decide whether or not to wind up the debate with a resolution. In its resolution, Parliament recalls that the rule of law and freedom of the media have deteriorated in Greece in recent years. As the situation has not been sufficiently addressed,...
[AM] Adoption of the Action Plan on disinformation
On 27th December 2023, the Prime Minister of Armenia sanctioned, through his decision, the National Concept and the Action Plan dedicated to combating disinformation within the country. The prime pillar of this strategy is 'strengthening the capabilities of public institutions of Armenia to detect, analyse, and expose disinformation.' Under this pillar, the following activities are listed for implementation: 1. Improving strategic communication within government agencies, strengthening human, financial, and technical resources in their public communication departments; 2. Improving...
[AT] New service centre for artificial intelligence at the RTR-GmbH
The EU's AI Act will have massive implications for Austria. Still, the government decided not to wait an additional two years up until EU law enters into force but to respond to the challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) at the national level and prepare well ahead. Even before the EU AI Act comes into force, Austria will implement a labelling requirement for AI systems for transparency purposes. A survey on the use of AI applications in the federal ministries has already been carried out for this purpose. Thus, in December 2023, an amendment to the KommAustria Act and the Telecommunications...
[DE] Greater compliance, transparency and monitoring: fourth state media treaty enters into force
On 1 January 2024, the amendments to the Medienstaatsvertrag (state media treaty – MStV) that were brought in under the Vierte Medienänderungsstaatsvertrag (fourth state treaty amending the state media treaty – 4. MÄStV) entered into force after being ratified by the parliaments of the 16 German Länder (federal states). Among other things, the MStV sets out the legal framework for public service broadcasting in Germany. The latest amendments are designed to strengthen the compliance, transparency and monitoring of public service broadcasters. In order to promote good...
[DE] New Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg state treaty enters into force
On 14 December 2023, the state parliaments of Berlin and Brandenburg adopted the Staatsvertrag über den Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (state treaty on the Berlin-Brandenburg state broadcasting authority – rbb-Staatsvertrag), which had been signed by Brandenburg on 3 November 2023 and by Berlin on 17 November 2023. Following the exchange of ratification documents, the treaty entered into force on 1 January 2024. The new legal framework for Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (Berlin-Brandenburg state broadcasting authority – rbb) replaces the Staatsvertrag über die Errichtung einer...
[DE] Parliamentary debate on law implementing Digital Services Act
On 18 January 2024, the Bundestag (German federal parliament) debated the so-called Digitale-Dienste-Gesetz (Digital Services Law), which was tabled by the federal government to implement the Digital Services Act (DSA) at national level, for the first time. While the DSA, which will apply across the EU from 17 February 2024, regulates matters including due diligence obligations for online services in the battle against disinformation and hate speech on the Internet and their enforcement at EU level, the government bill, known as the DDG-E, lays down the relevant responsibilities in Germany. The...
[DK] Danish Act on Cultural Contribution stipulating a 2% revenue payment for VOD service providers, plus an additional 3% if investment in new Danish content is below 5%
On 19 December 2023 the Danish Parliament passed a bill on Certain Media Service Providers’ Contribution to Promote Danish Culture (the Act on Cultural Contribution). However, due to a procedural irregularity, the EU Commission had not been notified of the legislation in time, which is why the bill did not receive Royal Assent, and the legislative process must be repeated. According to the Act, providers of on-demand audiovisual media services must make an annual payment to the Danish state of 2% of their turnover in Denmark stemming from the on-demand service and an additional 3% if...
[ES] Spain takes important steps to protect minors on the internet and social media
In the face of social concern about the increasing uncontrolled access of children and young people to adult content, Spain is making legal and practical progress in the protection of minors on the Internet. Firstly, it was the Spanish Data Protection Agency (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos – AEPD) that introduced an age verification system in December 2023 to ensure that any person accessing adult content is authorised to do so. This is in line with the General Law on Audiovisual Communication (Spanish Law 13/2022), which obliges video-sharing platforms to set...
[ES] The legal regime on content creators and influencers under criticism
The Spanish Ministry of Economy, Trade and Enterprise (MINECO) unveiled a draft royal decree in December 2023 outlining criteria for identifying users of special relevance on video-sharing platforms such as YouTube or Twitch. This is a legal regulation that will establish obligations for certain users, commonly known as influencers, content creators, or vloggers. If these actors adhere to the outlined requirements, they will be considered as a particular type of audiovisual communication service provider according to the Spanish General Law on Audiovisual Communication, which transposed the European...
[FR] C8 punished by ARCOM for failing to control programme content
In a decision of 17 January 2024 and in accordance with Article 42-1 of the Law of 30 September 1986, the Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique (the French audiovisual regulator – ARCOM) fined the C8 television channel EUR 50 000 for failing to meet its obligations to respect human rights and control programme content during an episode of the programme Touche pas à mon poste broadcast on 30 January 2023. During the disputed sequence, entitled "20-minute people", the programme presenter and pundits discussed a recent controversy...
[FR] CNews fined EUR 50 000 for breaching obligation to exercise honesty and rigour in the presentation and processing of information
In a decision of 17 January 2024, the Autorité de régulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique (the French audiovisual regulator – ARCOM) fined the CNews television channel EUR 50 000 for breaching its obligations to exercise honesty and rigour in the presentation and processing of information and to ensure that different viewpoints are expressed on controversial issues. During the programme Face à l'info broadcast on 26 September 2022, reference was made to an international ranking of the world’s safest cities published by the website Numbeo,...
[FR] Microsoft and Google ordered to delist 90 websites broadcasting sports competitions for which Canal Plus holds audiovisual exploitation rights
The Canal Plus Group holds the exclusive rights to broadcast the French rugby championship, known as the "Top 14", on French soil, as well as live Premier League football matches in France and Monaco, and in other territories on a non-exclusive basis. It also holds exclusive rights to broadcast some Champions League matches, with the rights to other matches held by the beIN company. Having obtained a court ruling on 19 September 2023 that around 90 websites accessible in France were streaming live matches in numerous competitions more or less systematically and free of charge, in particular...
[GB] The Media Bill passes House of Commons approval and awaits House of Lords scrutiny
On 30 January 2024 the Media Bill (the Bill) passed its third reading in the House of Commons, having been introduced to parliament in November 2023. The Bill is aimed at protecting Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV and S4C from unfair competition from less regulated streaming services and online providers. It will be considered by the House of Lords inthe remaining stages before it can become law by receiving Royal Assent later this year, after which the regulator Ofcom will consult about implementing the legislative changes. The Bill reduces...
[UK] Government announces initiatives to assist regulation of AI and the House of Lords introduce the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill
On 6 February 2024, the UK Government published its consultation response to the AI Regulation White Paper detailing initiatives supporting individual regulators to provide tools and develop skills to address the risks and opportunities of AI. Key regulators are required to publish their plans about AI risks and opportunities by 30 April 2024. Many regulators have already published proposals; the Information Commissioner’s Office, for example, has updated data protection laws applying to AI systems. Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority therefore have until...
[GE] Innovative method to fund PSB
The Parliament of Georgia has adopted amendments in the 2005 broadcasting law (see: IRIS 2013-8:1/23) that would soon change the method of funding the country's national and regional public broadcasters. Currently, the law stipulates that Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) is to obtain at least 0.14% of the national GDP. With the dramatic growth of the Georgian GDP since 2022, the funding for GPB has jumped from GEL 69.6 million in 2021 to 110.3 million (or EUR 38.2 million) in 2024. The note to the bill explained the proposed change by saying that the current increase has not been conditioned...
[IE] Reddit challenges designation as video-sharing platform by Irish media regulator
Following the publication on 10 November of its Designation Decision Framework for video-sharing platform (VSP) services, the Irish media regulator Coimisiún na Meán (the Media Commission) issued a series of notices of designation to services established in Ireland that it estimates fall under the designation of VSP. Pursuant to section 139H(3)(a) of the Broadcasting Act, 10 such services (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Udemy, TikTok, LinkedIn, X, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit) were notified of their designation as VSPs between 22 December and 29 December 2023. As foreseen by the...
[IT] Italian Communications Authority releases guidelines on influencers to ensure compliance with rules and principles governing audiovisual media services
On 10th January 2024, the Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) issued, by resolution no. 7/24/CONS, some long-awaited guidelines to urge compliance with the Audiovisual Media Services Code (‘TUSMA’, Legislative Decree no. 208/2021) by influencers (‘Guidelines’). The resolution also established a technical group of experts. The release of the Guidelines follows the increase in the online dissemination of content by various subjects having control over the creation, fabrication or organisation of the same, commonly known as ‘influencers’. According to...
[MD] New mechanism to suspend adopted television licences
The state of emergency in Moldova, temporarily established by the parliament on 20 January 2022, reintroduced on 24 February 2022, and extended several times thereafter, ended on 31 December 2023. During this period, the Commission for Emergency Situations (CES), chaired by the prime minister, adopted two decisions on the suspension of the broadcasting licences of TV stations in Moldova due to the threat they posed to national security under the state emergency (see IRIS 2023-1:1/5). In the meantime, on 29 December 2023, the Council for the Promotion of Investment Projects of National Importance...
[NL] Media Authority imposes fine on ESPN over gambling advertising
On 8 January 2024, the Dutch Media Authority (Commissariaat voor de Media, CvdM) issued a significant decision, imposing a fine on ESPN , a sports broadcaster, for numerous violations of the rules governing gambling advertising. This action follows the new legislation on gambling advertising coming into force in 2023 (see IRIS 2023-7/20) and previously in 2021 (see IRIS 2022-2/15). The CvdM stated that it attached “great importance” to compliance with these regulations, as they are designed to “protect minors”. Seeing advertising for gambling can lead to a “positive...
[NL] Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets publishes draft DSA guidance for providers of online services
On 18 January 2024, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument & Markt) (ACM) published important draft Guidelines on the EU’s landmark Digital Services Act (DSA) (see, for example, IRIS 2023-3/18 and IRIS 2023-5/2). Notably, this follows the ACM being designated as the national Digital Services Coordinator in the Netherlands under the DSA under recent Dutch legislation (IRIS 2023-8/16). The draft Guidelines have been developed by the ACM to ensure that “market participants falling under the DSA are adequately prepared” for...
[PT] Strategical plan for the promotion of media literacy approved in Portugal
In November 2023 the Government approved a national plan to promote media literacy in various sectors of society. Although there is a natural focus on pre-university schools, the document also established guidelines that include informal and lifelong education. The purpose is to enable citizens to better deal with informative content, and to fight misinformation and dissemination of false content. This is the first time a national plan has been launched in this field. Starting with the acknowledgement that there is a deficit in Portugal regarding access to and reading the news, the legislative...
[SI] Draft Law on Media addresses transparency, media concentration, pluralism, hate speech and artificial intelligence
On 12 December 2023, the Slovenian Ministry of Culture published a draft Law on Media for consultation, which is intended to update the current Law on Media. The deadline for comments on the Draft was 31 January 2024. It is intended that the new Law on Media will reflect the forthcoming European Media Freedom Act and the EU Artificial Intelligence Act. Key areas of change include (among others): increasing transparency of ownership of media outlets and transparency of financing of media outlets via a central database; improving the procedures regarding media mergers; regulating state advertising;...