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Summaries of EU Legislation

Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive

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Audiovisual Media Services (AMS) Directive

This Directive aims to produce a framework for cross-border audiovisual media services in order to strengthen the internal programme production and distribution market and to guarantee conditions of fair competition.


This Directive establishes legal, regulatory and administrative provisions related to the provision and distribution of audiovisual media services.

Which media service providers* does the Directive apply to?

This Directive applies to media service providers when:

the head office of the provider and the editorial decisions taken about the audiovisual media services are located in the same European Union (EU) country;

the head office and audiovisual media services are located in different EU countries;

the service provider has its head office in an EU country, whereas decisions on the audiovisual media services are taken in a third country;

the service provider uses a satellite up-link situated in an EU country;

the service provider uses satellite capacity appertaining to an EU country.

To what extent does freedom of retransmission apply?

EU countries shall not restrict retransmissions on their territory of audiovisual media services from other EU countries, as long as the programmes broadcast are not of a violent or pornographic nature which could offend the sensibilities of minors.

They may also limit retransmissions if they believe public policy, health and security or consumer protection to be at risk.

What are the obligations of media service providers?

Media service providers shall make the following information available to consumers:

their name;

their geographical address;

their contact details;

the competent regulatory or supervisory bodies.

Protection of minors

In order to protect minors against the negative effects of pornographic or violent programmes, such programmes, when broadcast, must be preceded by an acoustic warning or identified by the presence of a visual symbol throughout the broadcast.

Incitement to hatred

Audiovisual media services may not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality.

Accessibility of audiovisual media services

Providers are obliged to improve the accessibility of their services for people with a visual or hearing disability.

The right to information

EU countries may take measures aimed at ensuring that certain events, which it considers are of major importance for society, cannot be broadcast exclusively in such a way as to deprive a substantial proportion of the public in that EU country. Each EU country may draw up a list of events and implementation procedures.

For the purpose of short news reports, any broadcaster established in an EU country has the right to access short extracts of events of high interest to the public which are broadcast on an exclusive basis.

Promotion of European and independent works

Broadcasters must devote at least 10% of their transmission time, or 10% of their programming budget, to European works created by producers who are independent of broadcasters, excluding time allocated to:


sports events;



teletext services;


With regard to on-demand audiovisual media services, EU countries shall ensure that audiovisual media service providers promote the production of and access to European works. To this end, audiovisual service providers can contribute financially to the production of European works, or they can reserve a share and/or prominence for European works in their catalogue of programmes.

Audiovisual commercial communication

Media service providers provide audiovisual commercial communications*. These must comply with certain conditions:

they must be readily recognisable. Surreptitious audiovisual commercial communication shall be prohibited;

they shall not use subliminal techniques;

they shall not prejudice respect for human dignity;

they shall not be discriminatory;

they shall not encourage behaviour harmful to the environment;

they shall not contain messages relating to alcoholic beverages specifically aimed at minors;

they shall not promote tobacco products;

they shall restrict the promotion of medicinal products and medical treatments to those available on prescription only;

they shall not cause moral or physical detriment to minors.

Certain programmes or audiovisual media services may be sponsored*. In this case, they must meet other types of requirements:

they shall not affect the editorial independence of the media service provider;

they shall not directly encourage the purchase or rental of goods;

viewers shall be informed of the sponsorship agreement.

Product placement* is authorised in certain circumstances and in certain types of programmes.

Television advertising and teleshopping

Television advertising and teleshopping shall be distinguishable from editorial content through optical, acoustic or spatial means.

The transmission of films made for television (excluding series, serials and documentaries), cinematographic works and news programmes may be interrupted by television advertising or teleshopping on the condition that the interruption only takes place once for each programme period of 30 minutes.

This Directive repeals Directive 89/552/EC.


*Media service provider: the natural or legal person who has editorial responsibility for the choice of the audiovisual content of the audiovisual media service and determines the manner in which it is organised.

*Audiovisual commercial communication: images with or without sound which are designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of a natural or legal entity pursuing an economic activity.

*Sponsorship: any contribution made by public or private undertakings or natural persons not engaged in providing audiovisual media services or in the production of audiovisual works, to the financing of audiovisual media services or programmes with a view to promoting their name, trade mark, image, activities or products.

*Product placement: the inclusion of a product, a service or a trade mark in a programme in return for payment or for similar consideration.


Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2010/13/EU



OJ L 95 of 15.4.2010, pp.1–24

last update 21.09.2015