Bruxelles, 22 February 2005
TO ALL THE MEMBERS OF CERTIL
SUBJECT: RECENT NEWS IN THE RADIO-TELEVISION AND COMMUNICATIONS AREA
in attachment a few interesting news in the radio-television and communication area.
For further information you can contact Mr Fabio Carera at
the following numbers:
++39 348 4454981 or ++39 0331 957993.
Interoperability of digital interactive television services
In accordance with Article 18(3) of Directive 2002/21/EC, the Commission sets out its views on whether the interoperability of digital interactive television services has been achieved satisfactorily in the Member States one year after the entry into force of the directive. The responses to the public consultation do not give a clear picture as to whether adequate interoperability has been achieved, in view of the complexity of the technological and market environment, the very different perceptions of interoperability held by market players and delays in the implementation of the directive in many Member States. Consequently, the Commission concludes that there is no clear case for mandatory standards at present (as authorised by Article 18), and will review the issue in 2005. In the meantime, the Commission calls for the directive to continue to be applied, and proposes various measures to promote the deployment of interactive digital services using the 'Multimedia home platform' standard, the only open standard for application programming interfaces (APIs) adopted by EU standards bodies. As a result, European citizens should have at their disposal an increasingly wide range of interactive television services.
Application of Articles 4 and 5 of Directive “Television without frontiers” for the period 2001-2002.
In accordance with the 'Television without frontiers' directive (97/36/EC) of the European Parliament and of the Council, this communication constitutes the Commission's sixth report on the implementation of Articles 4 and 5 of the directive. Covering the period 2001-02, it contains a statistical statement of the achievement of the proportions referred to in Articles 4 and 5 for each of the television programmes falling within the jurisdiction of the EU Member States and of European Free Trade Association countries participating in the European Economic Area. The Commission also highlights, for the second time, the general trends observed both at Community level and nationally. The reference period for this report does not take account of the situation in the new Member States.
The French ban on indirect television advertising for alcholic beverages is compatible with Community law
The French law on the campaign against smoking and alcoholism (the Loi Evin) bans direct or indirect television advertising for alcoholic beverages in France. A breach of those provisions is treated as a ’délit’ (misdemeanour) by French criminal law. A Code of Conduct, drawn up by the French authorities and the French television companies, sets out the detailed rules for the application of that ban to retransmission in France of sporting events taking place in other Member States. The Code of Conduct distinguishes between multinational sporting events, pictures of which are retransmitted in a large number of countries and which are, therefore, not regarded as mainly concerning the French public, and bi-national sporting events, whose retransmission is specifically aimed at a French audience. The Code provides that, as regards the latter events, French broadcasters must use all available means to prevent the appearance on their channels of advertising for alcoholic beverages. Two cases relating to the French rules were referred to the Court of Justice. In the infringement action (Case C-262/02), the European Commission asks the Court to declare that the French rules are incompatible with the freedom to provide services guaranteed by the EC Treaty, on the ground that the Loi Evin creates obstacles to the retransmission in France of foreign sporting events. The reference for a preliminary ruling (Case C-429/02) is based on the fact that Télévision Française TF1 requested Groupe Jean-Claude Darmon and Girosport, commissioned to negotiate on its behalf for television retransmission rights for football matches, to prevent the appearance on screen of brand names of alcoholic beverages. As a result, a number of foreign football clubs refused to rent to Bacardi France, which produces and markets a number of alcoholic beverages, advertising hoardings around their playing fields. Bacardi France therefore sued TF1, Darmon and Girosport before the French courts, seeking an order that they cease to exert pressure on foreign football clubs to refuse to rent advertising hoardings around their playing fields. In that context the French Cour de Cassation wished to know whether the French rules were contrary to the provisions of Community law, in particular the freedom to provide services laid down by the EC Treaty and the Community directive ’Television Without Frontiers’. The Court observes first that indirect television advertising for alcoholic beverages resulting from hoardings visible during the retransmission of sporting events does not constitute a separate announcement broadcast to promote goods or services within the meaning of the ’Television without Frontiers’ directive. It is impossible to transmit that advertising only during the intervals between the different parts of the television programme concerned. Accordingly, the ’Television without Frontiers’ directive is not applicable. Next, the Court finds that the French television advertising rules constitute a restriction on the freedom to provide services for the purposes of the EC Treaty: First, because the owners of the advertising hoardings must refuse, as a preventive measure, any advertising for alcoholic beverages if the sporting event is likely to be retransmitted in France, and, second, because the rules hinder the provision of broadcasting services for television programmes. French broadcasters must refuse to retransmit all sporting events in the course of which hoardings bearing advertising for alcoholic beverages marketed in France are visible. Furthermore, the organisers of sporting events taking place outside France cannot sell the retransmission rights to French broadcasters where the broadcast of television programmes devoted to such events is likely to contain indirect television advertising for alcoholic beverages. Moreover, although it is true that it is technically possible to mask the images in order selectively to conceal the hoardings displaying advertising for alcoholic beverages, the use of such techniques involves substantial extra costs for the French broadcasters. Finally, the Court considers whether the prohibition may be justified. The Court states that the French television advertising rules seek to protect public health and that they are appropriate to ensure that that objective is achieved. The rules restrict the situations in which advertising hoardings for alcoholic beverages can be seen on television and, as a result, are likely to restrict the broadcasting of such advertisements, thereby reducing the occasions on which television viewers might be encouraged to consume alcoholic beverages. The Court, therefore, holds that the principle of the freedom to provide services laid down in the EC Treaty does not preclude a ban such as that imposed by the French rules on indirect television advertising for alcoholic beverages.
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