Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2010

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive governs EU-wide coordination of national legislation on all audiovisual media.

The Directive amends the Television Without Frontiers Directive in a number of areas including enlargement in scope, advertising rules, advertising “unhealthy“ foods and beverages in children’s programmes, and promotes areas including media literacy, co & self regulation, and access for persons with a hearing or visual impairment.

The Directive also has a significant cultural dimension and has a major influence on the shape of European broadcasting. This includes provisions in relation to quotas for European programming, short news reporting, rules on the insertion of advertising and the provisions in relation to the designation of certain events as events of major importance to society.

A copy of the Directive is attached hereunder.

Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2010

link to Commission website.

link to BAI website.
The Directive has been transposed (TV elements) by the Broadcasting Act 2009. The European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010 transpose the remaining elements of the Directive (On-demand). The spreadsheet attached below illustrates the correlation between the Directive and the transposition measures.

AVMSD Transposition Table 

Audiovisual Media Services Directive 2010

Since the adoption of the Television Without Frontiers Directive in 1989, technological and market developments made it necessary to amend the audiovisual regulatory framework. It was revised in 1997 and 2007. With the last revision, the Directive was renamed the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and then codified in 2010.

The primary purpose of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is to ensure the effective operation of the internal market for television broadcasting services by ensuring the free movement of broadcasting services throughout the EU.

The Directive covers all audiovisual media services - that means traditional television (linear service) and video-on-demand (non-linear services) irrespective of the technology used to deliver the content.

The distinction between linear and on-demand services is the basis for a graduated regulatory approach: In a two-tier system of rules the Directive acknowledges a set of core societal values applicable to all audiovisual media services, but provides lighter regulation to on-demand services where the users decide on the content and the time of viewing.

All audiovisual media services have to respect the basic tier of obligations in the following areas; identification of media service providers, prohibition of incitement to hatred, accessibility for people with disabilities, qualitative requirements for commercial communications, sponsoring, and- product placement.

Traditional television (linear services) are subject to additional stricter rules, due to their impact on society, in the following areas; qualitative and quantitative advertising standard and protection of minors.

The Directive also makes provision for; the designation of major events, short news reporting, promotion of European works, rules relating to product placement, the advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks to children, jurisdiction issues, self and co-regulation, and independent national regulators.

Member States are free to apply more detailed or stricter rules in the fields coordinated by the Directive to media service providers under their jurisdiction, provided those rules are consistent with the general principles of European Union law.

The detailed provisions of the Directive are summarised in Appendix 1.

The detailed provisions of the European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010, are summarised in Appendix 2.

Broadcasting Policy Division

September 2011

Appendix 1

Detailed provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

Scope (Art 1 (a) AVMSD)

The AVMSD covers all "audiovisual media services" that means traditional television as "linear audiovisual media service" and video-on-demand as "non-linear audiovisual media services". These services have to be directed to the general public and be intended to inform, entertain and educate (Art 1 (a) AVMSD) under the editorial responsibility of a media service provider. The enlarged scope of the Directive responds to the increasing importance and relevance of on-demand audiovisual media services.

On Demand – non linear audiovisual media services

Due to the different degrees of choice and control users can exercise with regard to on-demand audiovisual media services only a basic tier of rules applies to them. There are however stricter rules for television broadcasts in the fields of advertising and protection of minors.

Derogations to the freedom of reception principle for on-demand audiovisual media services (Art 2 (4)-(6) AVMSD)

According to the AVMSD, a Member State can restrict the retransmission of on-demand audiovisual media services for reasons similar to those established by the E-Commerce Directive. This would for example allow Member States to take measures against certain forms of Nazi propaganda that are not banned in all Member States.

Cooperation and circumvention procedure (Art 4 (2) – (5) AVMSD)

The Directive provides for

a consultation procedure between the Member State of jurisdiction (i.e. origin) and the one towards which a television broadcast is wholly or mostly directed. This may lead to a non-binding request to a broadcaster to comply with a rule of general interest of the latter Member State. Subsequently,

a different procedure on the basis of ECJ case law (specifically on circumvention) allows Member States, under the ex-ante control of the Commission, to take binding measures against service providers that circumvent national rules.

Transparency obligations (Art 5 AVMSD)

Art. 5 obliges all audiovisual media service providers to indicate all relevant data necessary to be identified. This is necessary to ensure that whoever makes the editorial decisions regarding the content of these services can be contacted by viewers should they have a complaint about the content. 

Audiovisual commercial communications (Art 9 AVMSD)

The AVMS Directive defines broadly audiovisual commercial communications as images with or without sound designed to promote the goods, services or the image of entities pursuing economic activities, which accompany or are embedded in programmes in return for payment or similar consideration. The purpose of this definition is to embrace all forms of audiovisual commercial communications, such as sponsorship, product placement, teleshopping, etc. and to submit them to a common set of rules, whatever mode of delivery is used for the programmes to which they are associated.

Short reporting (Art 15 AVMSD)

In order to promote the free flow of information, Art 15 guarantees to any broadcaster established in the Community access for the purpose of short news reporting to events of high interest to the public which are transmitted on an exclusive basis

European works in on-demand audiovisual media services (Art 13 AVMSD)

According to Art. 13 Member States shall ensure that not only television broadcasters (Art. 16), but also on-demand audiovisual media services promote European works.

Product Placement (Art 11 AVMSD)

AVMSD defines under which conditions (e.g. which programmes; identification requirement; no undue prominence, etc.) product placement may be employed. Member States always can adopt stricter rules for media service providers subject to their jurisdiction, provided that such rules are in compliance with Community law.


For television advertising, the 'qualitative' rules such as the rules on consumer protection, on protection of minors and on human dignity have been maintained. At the same time new challenges, such as potentially unhealthy foodstuffs, are addressed. In this regard the Directive calls for self-regulation and the adoption of codes of conduct by the industry. With regard to 'quantitative limits' and the rules concerning the insertion of spot advertising, broadcasters are granted more flexibility. However, the hourly limit of 12 minutes for spot advertising and teleshopping spots remains unchanged (Art 23 (1) AVMSD).

Codes of conduct against advertising for "unhealthy" food and beverages in children's programmes (Art 9 e (2) AVMSD)

Art 9 e (2) AVMSD obliges Member States and the Commission to encourage media service providers to develop codes of conduct regarding advertising for 'unhealthy' food and beverages in children's programmes.

Protection of minors in on-demand audiovisual media services (Art 12 AVMSD)

Content which might seriously impair the development of minors shall only be made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such programmes. This can be achieved by access codes or other means that would effectively prevent minors from accessing adult content.

Access for people with a visual or hearing disability (Art 7 AVMSD)

The AVMSD intends to promote the access of people with a visual or hearing disability to audiovisual media services. Member States shall encourage media service providers under their jurisdiction to ensure that their services are gradually made accessible to people with a visual or hearing disability. Some of the means envisaged to this end are subtitling and audio description.

Co - and/or self-regulation (Art 4 (7) AVMSD)

Co - and/or self-regulation have proven to be valuable instruments in some Member States. The AVMSD obliges Member States to encourage such mechanisms at national level in the fields coordinated by AVMSD to the extent permitted by their legal systems. However, the AVMS Directive specifies that such regimes have to be broadly accepted by the main stakeholders and provide for effective enforcement. link to IBEC website

Appendix 11

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2010

Main Provisions


1. Citation; European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010

2. Definitions;

· Audiovisual commercial communications

· Audiovisual media service

· Broadcaster

· Editorial responsibility

· European works

· Media service provider

· On–demand audiovisual media service provider

· Product placement

· Programme

· Sponsorship

· Surreptitious audiovisual commercial communication

· Teleshopping

· Television advertising

· Television broadcasting

3. Scope of Regulation; Regulations apply to media service providers established in the State.

4. BAI’s responsibilities in relation to jurisdiction issues

5. Provision of identification material by audiovisual media service providers

6. Protection of cinematrographic works (Rights), Protection of minors (Physical, mental, moral development).

7. Audiovisual commercial communications. Basic requirements for on-line;

· must be readily recognisable / not surreptitious

· no subliminal techniques

· respect for human dignity

· no prejudicial behaviour in relation to health or the environment

· no alcohol ads aimed at minors

· no prescription medicines

· protection of minors

· sponsorship criteria

· HFSS criteria (children)

8. Product placement provisions

9. Bans product placement of tobacco/cigarettes, prescription medicines

10. Stipulates that regulations 8 & 9 only apply to programmes produced after 19/12/2009

11. Promotion of European works for non-linear services/ reporting requirements/ notification to BAI of intention to provide services

12. Accessibility of services to people with a visual or hearing disability

13. Development of co- regulatory codes of conduct

14. Promotion of European Works – Broadcasting

15. Promotion of Independent producers - Broadcasting – 10% quota

16. Reporting requirement – BAI

17. Access to short news reports

18. Protection of minors – Broadcasting

19. Teleshopping channels

20. Enforcement provision – recourse to High Court

Last Updated:10/02/2012
Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources29-31 Adelaide Road, Dublin 2, Ireland
Tel +353-1-6782000 Fax +353-1-6782449
Version: 4.8 Daff