EUROPEAN MEDIA BUSINESS WELCOMES CLARIFICATION OF RULES APPLYING TO STATE AID TO PUBLIC BROADCASTERS

Date

02 Jul 2009

Sections

InfoSociety

Brussels, 2 July 2009 – Today representatives of the European media business – including the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT), the Association of
European Radios (AER), the European Publishers’ Council (EPC), the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA) and the German Association of Commercial
Broadcasters and Audiovisual Services (VPRT) – welcomed the conclusion of the- revision of the 2001 Broadcasting Communication. The Communication sets out the
principles to be followed by the Commission in the application of Articles 87 and 86(2) of the EC Treaty to State funding of public sector broadcasting. In the EU 27, state aid to broadcasting is estimated as being worth at least Euro 22 bn per year.

In the current economic environment, it is of ever greater importance that the European Union rules on
state aid are rigorously applied so as to ensure that those private sector companies who do not seek public support are not unfairly disadvantaged.

Ross Biggam, Director General ACT, commented: “After strong resistance against the text in particular from national cultural ministries, we congratulate the Commission for having come up with a balanced and workable text. It would have been helpful if further details had been maintained, but we understand that in line with the Brussels policymaking process a compromise had to be found. However, the real work will now begin with the implementation of the new obligations contained in this text by the Member States”.

Angela Mills Wade, Executive Director EPC, said: “The ongoing economic crisis puts into stark relief the ever greater need to provide rules for fair competition between
commercial and publicly-funded players in the media business. For the private media companies the introduction of ex-ante scrutiny for new ventures which can play havoc
with our online and mobile services and the need for an independent control body are the most important milestones, which will help to prevent future distortion of competition in the market. To be truly effective though, and in line with the Amsterdam Protocol control
bodies should be independent from the management of the public service broadcaster".

While it is up to the Member States to define the remit and financing of the public broadcasters in their markets, the Communication gives clearer guidance as to how the
Member States should effectively do this.

When commenting on this matter, Frederik Stucki, Secretary General AER, highlighted: “We welcome the recognition of the essential role played by private media.

We indeed offer a wide choice of content which enriches the cultural and political debate.

It has been important to clarify that public broadcasters should comply with qualitative requirements”.

The text has been discussed among the EU institutions over the last months and stakeholders had the opportunity to give their input during two consultations. The text
gives guidance to Member States on how to ensure compliance with state aid rules to public broadcasters.

Tobias Schmid, Vice President VPRT & Vice President Media Policy at RTL Television Germany, stressed: “With the adoption of this text the Commission has taken an important step forward, which will help to clarify issues beforehand and might thus lead to fewer actions being taken to Brussels. In Germany the application of the exante
test has started and it will be important to ensure that this is carried out in an efficient and transparent way for all parties”.

Valtteri Niiranen, Executive Director ENPA, said: “All Member States - large as well as small - now have a major role to play in order to better define the remits of the
publicly funded broadcasters in detail in national legislation to prevent significant distortion of the media market. Newspaper publishers and their associations are engaged in individual cases regarding publicly funded broadcasters’ activities before the EU Commission and with a clearly defined scope of activities of the publicly funded broadcasters in both small and large Member States, all parties could also avoid these lengthy processes”.
______________________________________________________________________________
About the ACT:
The Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) is a trade association representing
the interests of the commercial broadcasting sector in Europe. The ACT has twenty eight member
companies active in 34 European countries operating more than 400 free-to-air and pay-tv
channels and distributing several hundred channels and new services. For further information,
please see: www.acte.be
Press contact:
Ross Biggam Utta Tuttlies
Director General Head of Communications
Phone: +32-2-738 76 13 Phone: +32-2-738 76 18
GSM: +32-477-407 733 GSM: +32-495 – 24 64 67
E-mail: rb@acte.be E-mail: ut@acte.be

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