European Union (EU) is a unique form of international organization
created by treaty but exhibiting characteristics of an embryonic
federation. It is based on amendments to the European Coal and Steel
Community (ECSC) Treaty of 1951 (Treaty of Paris), the European
Economic Community (EEC) Treaty of 1957 ( first Treaty of Rome),
and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) Treaty of 1957.
The name EU derives from the Treaty on European Union (TEU) of 1992,
better known as the Maastricht Treaty. For this purpose, the EU
may be considered synonymous with the former terms EEC and EC (European
Community). Since 1995, the EU includes fifteen members: France,
Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, the United
Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Austria, Sweden,
Among the most important purposes of the original EEC Treaty were
the creation of a Common Market and an increase in economic integration
among the Member States. Economic integration was intended both
to promote economic prosperity and aid in the prevention of further
conflicts such as occurred in World War II. Television policy in
the EU reflects the underlying purpose of promoting European integration
and abolishing national barriers to the free movements of goods
and services within the Common Market. By decision of the European
Court of Justice in Sacchi (1974), a television signal is considered
a provision of services under Articles 59 and 60 of the Treaty of
Rome, and national barriers to cross-frontier broadcasting or the
establishment of broadcasters from one Member State in another are
intended to be abolished in most circumstances.
The EU's single most important initiative in television policy is
the establishment of a single EU market in television, the so-called
"Television Without Frontiers" [TWF] Directive. A directive requires
Member States to conform or harmonize their national legislation
to standards or criteria laid down in the text of the directive.
The TWF Directive, enacted by the Council of the EC in 1989, had
the purposes of securing access for viewers and listeners in all
Member States to broadcasting signals emanating from any other Member
State and the harmonization of EU broadcast advertising standards.
The European Parliament's Hahn Report on Radio and Television Broadcasting
in the EC (1982) laid the groundwork for the formal TWF Directive
a few years later. The Hahn Report advocated establishment of a
unified European television channel and saw satellite television
technology leading to a reorganization of the media in Europe and
breaking down of the boundaries of national television networks.
TWF Directive (1989) lays down minimum standards that, if met by
any television program, allow it to freely circulate within the
EU without restriction, provided that it complies with the legislation
of the country of origin. The directive contains chapters devoted
to promotion of television program production and distribution,
protection of minors, television advertising and sponsorship, and
right of reply. Advertising that promotes discrimination on grounds
of race, sex, or nationality; is offensive to religious beliefs;
or which encourages behavior prejudicial to health, safety, or the
protection of the environment is prohibited or restricted. For example,
advertising of alcoholic beverages is restricted, but advertising
of tobacco products is totally prohibited. A right of reply is accorded
to any person or organization whose legitimate interests have been
damaged by an incorrect assertion of fact in a television program.
The TWF Directive also lays down two other policies which have an
effect similar to the establishment of quotas on broadcasting in
the EU. First, the Directive requires Member States to ensure "where
practicable" and by "appropriate means" that broadcasters reserve
for "European works" a majority of their transmission time, exclusive
of news, sports events, games, advertising, and teletext services.
This is intended to protect 50% or more of transmission time so
defined from foreign (non-EU) competition. The second quota, designed
to stimulate the production of European drama work, requires broadcasters
to reserve 10% or more of their transmission time (as above) or
alternatively, 10% of their programming budget, for European works
created by producers who are "independent of broadcasters" (TWF
Directive, Art. 5).
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, concern developed in Europe
that a single market in television was an economic threat to national
broadcasting markets and national media, as well as a threat to
cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe. The threat is seen
to derive from English language services and productions-originating
from the United States, not England--in that only the United States
is considered to have film and television industries organized on
a scale large enough to take advantage of the single market. Indeed,
one report indicates that the European market is largely dominated
by United States productions in a proportion of 12:1. However, less
than 50% of total transmission time on most European channels is
accounted for by American programming.
at the European level for the protection and aid of European programming
has lead to audiovisual industry subsidy programs, such as the European
Commission's MEDIA, MEDIA II, Action Plan for Advanced Television
programs, and the Council of Europe's Eurimages fund. These are
collectively intended to support and stimulate independent production
and distribution networks for European works which are currently
considered noncompetitive with U.S. programming imports.
Union television policy thus simultaneously pursues the economic
objective of creating a Single Market in broadcasting along with
the fostering of cultural pluralism and protection of existing national
and subnational broadcasting markets and institutions. The "Television
Without Frontiers" approach, rooted in the fundamental purpose of
the EU, has so far had more impact than other protectionist policies.
However, there are sharp differences between Member States which
could ultimately lead to less economic integration and more cultural
and economic protectionism. In 1995, the TWF Directive was the subject
of debate at the European Commission level concerning possible revision,
but consideration of any amendments will be forthcoming.
Cave, Martin. Meeting Universal Service Obligations In A Competitive
Telecommunications Sector. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications
of the European Communities, 1994.
Collins, Richard. "Unity in Diversity? The European Single Market
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Audiovisual Policy In The European Union. Luxembourg: OOPEC,
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Vicenzo. "Quotas On TV Programmes And EEC Law." Common Market
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Schwartz, Ivo E. "Broadcasting and the EEC Treaty." European
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Alessandro, with Manuel Alvarado. East of Dallas: The European
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