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Lords oppose new media directive

The UK's thriving new media industry is under threat from proposed European Commission rules designed to protect the business of television broadcasters against new competition, according to a House of Lords committee.

The Lords European Union Committee this week produced a report outlining why the Commission's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) should be resisted. The proposed successor to the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive, AVMS will extend television regulation to some internet video services.

Intended as a way to keep EU law up to date with new and emerging media platforms, the new Directive has proved controversial as bloggers, podcasters and hobbyists have worried about being caught up in regulation designed for major broadcast operations.

The Directive as currently framed makes clear that it applies only to commercial TV-like services, but critics still worry that vagueness about what that actually means could lead to regulation of content that should not be governed by the Directive.

"We believe that this attempt was seriously misguided and any future efforts to do the same would be in grave error," said Lord Freeman, chairman of the Committee. "Such an attempt risks damaging the new media industry, which is a vibrant and important sector of the UK's economy."

The report warned that, if passed, the Directive would force production companies outside of the EU to escape the regulation, and that the UK would be one of the main victims of that flight.


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