Concept of the Conference

16.01.2015 09:55
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Strengthening the European audiovisual media market – for the development of the European identity

Aim of the conference and its relevancy to Latvia’s Presidency and the Member States

One of the priorities of Latvia’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union is Digital Europe with the aim of facilitating initial discussions on the Digital Single Market strategy – eliminate online borders, build trust and confidence, remove restrictions, ensure access and connectivity, build the digital economy. The conference “Strengthening the European audiovisual media market – for the development of the European identity” will cover all these points from the audiovisual media services aspect.

The fast pace of advances in technology, the emergence and development of new business models, the perceived threat to media pluralism caused by concentration, differing technical standards, changing consumer habits and other developments require serious reflection. At the same time, the question needs to be addressed if the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is still fit for purpose.

These changes also have an impact on the development of national culture and the European identity. The situation in Ukraine and the tragic events in Paris have sharpened our focus on European democratic values and the role that the media can play in their promotion or denigration. “Audiovisual media services are as much cultural services as they are economic services. Their growing importance for societies, democracy — in particular by ensuring freedom of information, diversity of opinion and media pluralism — education and culture, justifies the application of specific rules to these services.” Are the current rules up to the task?

In devising the programme of the conference, the organisers referred to the main issues highlighted by the European Commission’s Green Paper “Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values” and the report of the High-Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism “A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy”. The organisers took into account the refit exercise currently being undertaken by the European Commission (expected to be completed in 2016) and considered a dialogue between all the major stakeholders on contentious or problematic issues would be not only timely but also a good opportunity to provide the Commission with helpful input and feedback.

Conference programme

The conference agenda focuses on Member States’ experience in the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive – what bottlenecks have been observed, what problems we see for the future and how can they be avoided.

In plenary sessions, conference participants will discuss the scope of the current directive and whether it needs to include new actors, how to ensure plurality and European values in a converged media environment and whether graduated regulation is still appropriate in a converged media environment. How do we promote the production, distribution and popularisation of European works? Should the rules on advertising be liberalised? How can we improve the protection of minors?

One of the plenary sessions will be devoted to the contentious issue of jurisdiction. The country of origin principle is core to the directive. At the same time the question arises what to do if channels originating in non-EU states being registered in the jurisdiction of one EU Member State but unmistakably targeting the audience of another Member State. Can we find a faster, simpler and more effective mechanism to deal with circumvention and dispute resolution? The issue of jurisdiction has taken on a special significance in the light of the information war being waged against Europe, a situation that was not envisaged when the AVMSD was being drafted.

Parallel working groups will look at how the independence of regulators can be strengthened, whether there is a case for a single European standard to ensure technical compatibility and how we can improve consumers’ access to and the findability of the content they want.

Of course, no conference in Riga would be successful without the cultural element. This one will be no exception.

Who should attend?

The conference organisers have adopted a multi-stakeholder approach. The event is aimed at all those involved in the process of shaping European media policy – from government and industry, regulatory authorities and intergovernmental institutions, NGOs and media policy experts from academia as well as organisations of media professionals.

The organisers have engaged highly qualified speakers on these topic from all the major stakeholders in the effort to ensure focussed discussions on topics of interest to all Member States. We believe the conference will be a major contribution to future European media policy.

Download the concept of the conference on .pdf.