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JOINT STATEMENT: AVMSD Guidelines – definition of low audience thresholds and low turnover for VoD

BRUSSELS, 5 NOVEMBER 2019. The Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) and the European Association of VoD Platforms for Independent Cinema (EuroVoD) jointly express their gratitude to the Commission and the Member States for their efforts towards agreeing AVMSD guidelines. The Guidelines are an essential tool to give guidance for the national regulatory authorities in the implementation and interpretation of the revised provisions of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

This is a difficult balancing exercise and we are supportive of measures that will help ensure a common understanding across the Single Market. As such we broadly support the ideas set out to date yet remain concerned that discussions on the guidelines for exemptions related to VoD services may be detrimental to the Single Market and the objectives of the AVMSD.

The concern is related to low audience/low turnover thresholds below which providers are exempted under Recital 40 of the AVMS Directive from the obligation of making financial contributions (Article 13(2) of the AVMSD) and promoting European works (Article 13(1) of the AVMSD).

In the view of ACT and EuroVod, the low threshold for audience share included in the guidelines would set the bar very low. Thereby penalising smaller companies and new entrants on the market with systematic administrative burdens that will hamper their ability to compete and invest. The result is greater power for large players on the market. This jeopardises the development of the audiovisual ecosystem in this space and erodes the primary objectives of the AVMSD.

More specifically, the methodology and potential impact on providers established outside the so-called targeted Member State are concerning insofar as the measurement of audience may be inconsistent across Member States. Resulting in a flurry of challenges that are fundamentally detrimental to the objectives of the Single Market.

In the light of the above, ACT and EuroVoD suggest that audience thresholds for VoD be dropped as a guideline. Failing this, we would recommend that any threshold be substantially revised and that it be based on a common methodology and database. We remain concerned that beyond the market, this may also lead to challenges and fragmentation in application across Member States. Moreover, we believe that international platforms should have the same obligations about information and data than the local ones. Regarding low turnover, we believe that the Commission’s approach defining the standard for turnover as defined by the EC Recommendation of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises is also concerning.

The Recommendation set up standards for low turnover to be calculated on the basis of the provider ́s total annual revenues and not on the basis of the revenues generated by the VoD service itself. This is incoherent as investment decisions on the set up or continuance of an entity are weighed against the performance of the service and not that of the group.

We trust the above recommendations will support guidelines that ensure the spirit of the AVMS Directive is preserved and an even more vibrant market.

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