Embargo: Immediate Thursday 9 November 2006

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords EU Committee, which is investigating the EU’s Audio Visual Media Services Directive, has today written to Shaun Woodward MP, Minister for the Creative Industries and Tourism to set out its findings so far.

The letter is timed to inform the European Council’s debate on the Directive, which is scheduled for Tuesday 14 November.

In their letter the Committee set out their concerns that the EU’s proposals would damage the growing new media industry in the UK:

The key points the Committee make are:

  • Industry self regulation is the best option in most cases and has worked well in the UK. This Directive should allow successful self-regulation to continue unhindered.

  • It is increasingly clear that established broadcasters will have to compete with a growing new media market for advertising revenue. The Committee are clear that the regulator’s role should not be to protect companies with an established market position from this competition.

  • If the EU does want to regulate new media services beyond the existing eCommerce Directive, it should seek to adopt a whole new approach and not simply try to transfer provisions designed for television.

  • There is however a continued need for controls on harmful and illegal content in new as well as established media.

Commenting, Lord Woolmer, Chairman of the Lords EU Sub-Committee who are investigating the AMS Directive, said:

"Having received all our evidence for this inquiry, we have decided to write to Shaun Woodward ahead of next week’s Council meeting to make our concerns clear.

" We have serious concerns about the EU’s proposed Directive and the potential damage it may do to new media industries in the UK. The market for new media such as TV on Demand is far more advanced in the UK than in much of continental Europe and we are determined that this growing sector is not damaged by AMS directive. With modern broadcasting technology new media companies could easily move their operations to countries not covered by EU legislation if the regulatory regime is too onerous.

"While it is vital that the public are protected from obscene and illegal content in the new media as well as from traditional broadcasters we fell this could be achieved more effectively with a completely new approach to the new media, not simply transferring current legislation designed for TV to a very different industry."

Notes to Editors

  1. The House of Lords European Union Committee (Sub-Committee on the Internal Market) has since been conducting an inquiry into the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive since October of this year.

  2. The members of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Internal Market (Sub-B) who will conduct the inquiry are:

Lord Woolmer of Leeds (Chairman)

Lord Haskel

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Lord Roper

Lord Fearn

Lord St John of Bletso

Lord Fyfe of Fairfield

Lord Swinfen

Lord Geddes

Lord Walpole

3. Details of the inquiry including the original call for evidence can be found here.