On November 6, the Government presented the General Audiovisual Media Bill (the “Bill”), which transposes into Spanish law the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted in 2018 (“AVMSD”) and already discussed in this blog. The Bill is now subject to public consultation, and after its approval it will replace the provision that has been applicable
On November 6, the Government presented the General Audiovisual Media Bill (the “Bill”), which transposes into Spanish law the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted in 2018 (“AVMSD”) and already discussed in this blog. The Bill is now subject to public consultation, and after its approval it will replace the provision that has been applicable since 2010.
The deadline for Member States to transpose the Directive was September 19, 2020, but some countries, including Spain, have missed this deadline due to COVID-19.
From the start of the public consultation period, any parties concerned may submit comments, opinions or documents until December 3, 2020. The Parliament will then approve the final text.
The provision applicable since 2010 contained obligations that were almost exclusively for free digital terrestrial television. The new Bill, complying with the AVMSD, will adapt the applicable legislation to the current market reality, imposing similar obligations on the new players emerging in the audiovisual media services market due to digital technologies. Here are the main innovations the Bill introduces:
- Increasing the protection of minors. The Bill (i) encourages co-regulation of content description and age ratings by all media service providers; (ii) modifies time slots for children in free linear television; (iii) requires parental control systems to be provided on video-sharing platforms; and (iv) provides that any audiovisual and advertising content related to gaming, esotericism or pseudo science be restricted to the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. slot in free and pay-per-view linear television.
- Advertising. The Bill provides greater flexibility for time restrictions on commercial communications for linear television services. The upper limit goes from 12 minutes per hour to 144 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and a maximum of 72 minutes between 6 p.m. and 12 midnight. The Bill also extends current prohibitions on alcohol and tobacco advertising for all media service providers.
- Accessibility.The Bill extends all providers’ accessibility obligations. It also regulates, for the first time, specific accessibility obligations for pay-per-view and on-demand services.
- Promotion of European works. In addition to requiring linear television service providers to allot 51% of broadcasting time to European audiovisual works, the Bill imposes, for the first time, a similar obligation on on-demand television service providers. Platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO must allot 30% of their catalogues to European works. The Bill also requires all media service providers operating in Spain to contribute financially (based on their turnover in Spain) to the promotion of European works.
We will pay attention to any developments during the lawmaking procedure of the new General Act on Audiovisual Media, and provide updates on this blog.
Authors: Nora Oyarzabal and Paula Conde