General information

What is IRIS?

IRIS – Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory reports monthly on the most important legal developments for the audiovisual industry in 41 European countries. In more than 30 short articles, it provides a regular, free overview of what has been happening at national and international level in relation to legislation or court decisions in fields such as broadcasting, cinema, video-on-demand services and IPTV. In short, IRIS is an indispensable publication for all decision-makers and experts in the audiovisual sector, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory to improve the flow of information and transparency in the sector.

IRIS regularly covers themes such as developments in the television, on-demand service and film sectors, as well as closely related events in the communications sector. Expressed in terms of traditional categories of law, the newsletter reports on the latest developments in the fields of competition, copyright, data protection, criminal and tax law, for example, insofar as they are particularly relevant to the audiovisual sector. As far as law-related policy developments are concerned, IRIS also contains articles on freedom of information, media concentration, media pluralism, youth protection, self- and co-regulation, etc.


Editorial guidelines

Regardless of the subject matter, at the core of every IRIS article is the legal information, which is presented factually and clearly. Most reports concern a legal text, such as new legislation, a court ruling or an important administrative decision. An IRIS article may also describe preliminary political developments, such as those that are required before new legislation can be adopted. International agreements, bilateral treaties, important tariff agreements, etc. may also be covered.

The legal text is carefully analysed and briefly explained in its context. The precise reference of the text is added to the article. As far as possible, URL links are provided for the original document and electronically accessible translations of it.

The articles do not contain any opinion on the events described and do not follow any kind of political agenda.

In IRIS, we report on legally relevant developments that are of particular significance for the audiovisual sector in the member states of the European Audiovisual Observatory. These may be national or supranational developments.

The European Audiovisual Observatory uses a pragmatic interpretation of the "audiovisual" concept. For example, we may, on the one hand, include developments that, although they have an impact on the audiovisual sector, would normally lie outside the areas we cover under a strict interpretation of the term. One example of this would be developments in the radio sector, such as a frequency auction that was later repeated in the television sector. On the other hand, our pragmatic interpretation of the concept enables us to tailor the themes covered by IRIS articles to the information needs of the industry and to avoid an excessively broad range of topics.

The IRIS editorial board meets annually to discuss, among other things, the editorial guidelines and the work of the IRIS network.


Subscriptions, archive and IRIS Merlin database

You can subscribe free of charge to IRIS – Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory. The newsletter will then be sent to you 10 times a year (one issue per month, except August and December). To do this, you simply need to choose the "Subscription" option on the navigation bar above and complete the "E-mail address" and “language” field.

As well as the latest issue of the newsletter, we will also provide you with the complete IRIS archive, which contains every issue of IRIS published since 1995 in three languages. You can consult these IRIS issues and download them in pdf format. This service is available by clicking on the "Archives" function in the right-hand navigation bar.

If you are looking for a particular event or information about a certain topic, we recommend the "Search" function on the top navigation bar. This will take you to our IRIS Merlin database, where you can conduct a personalised search of all the articles ever published in IRIS, as well as the numerous additional articles that have been added to the database, by inputting your chosen text, date, topic, country, organisation and/or reference.


Sources and preparation of information

The European Audiovisual Observatory is keen to ensure that it only publishes articles that have been researched and written with the utmost thoroughness and accuracy. To this end, it calls on a carefully selected IRIS network of experts as well as highly qualified translators and proofreaders.

Accurate and comprehensible reporting is a huge challenge for three reasons: firstly, we are reporting on legal developments in an extremely wide range of legal cultures. Secondly, only in exceptional cases does the vital text exist in one of our working languages (German, English and French). Thirdly, most of our correspondents do not write their articles in their mother tongue. It is therefore constantly necessary to compare different legal systems when preparing the articles, which may involve finding an English word or phrase that can be understood by English readers to represent a particular legal instrument in a different country. The main requirement is that the article is comprehensible and conveys the original information as accurately as possible. It is not always easy to achieve this using the legal terminology of the "secondary language" in which the articles are written.

The European Audiovisual Observatory's work is supported by partner institutions, with whose help we have been able to build and systematically expand the IRIS network, which covers all member states of the Observatory and the main international institutions. With the support of the IRIS network, the essential developments can be observed, and relevant IRIS articles organised. Articles are collated and coordinated by the Observatory and its partner institutions, edited by the Observatory and then sent out for translation into the other official languages. All versions of the text are then proofread again before being submitted to the Observatory for a final inspection.