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Monday, July 06, 2009
EU Commission Updates Rules for State Funding of Public Broadcasters


The European Commission has adopted a new Communication on state aid for the funding of public service broadcasters.

The Communication provides a framework for the development of public broadcasting services and enhances legal certainty for investment by public and private media alike. The new Communication replaces the Commission?s 2001 Broadcasting Communication. The main changes include an increased focus on accountability and effective control at the national level, including a transparent evaluation of the overall impact of publicly-funded new media services.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The new Communication strikes the right balance between the interests of public and private media to ensure healthy competition in the very rapidly evolving media environment, to the benefit of Europe's citizens. Public broadcasters will be able to take advantage of the development of digital technology and Internet-based services to offer high quality services on all platforms, without unduly distorting competition at the expense of other media operators."

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "The adoption of this Communication will give additional legal certainty to the media sector in Europe and ensure a fair competition between public broadcasting and private media. One of the Commission's main objectives is to preserve a vibrant media landscape in the online environment, notably by ensuring that online offers of public broadcasters do not distort competition to the detriment of offers from online services and print media. The Communication adopted today responds to this objective in a clear and efficient way."

The main changes in the new Communication concern:

- The ex ante control of significant new services launched by public service broadcasters (balancing the market impact of such new services with their public value)
- Clarifications concerning the inclusion of pay services in the public service remit
- More effective control of overcompensation and supervision of the public service mission on the national level
- Increased financial flexibility for public service broadcasters.

The Communication is designed to ensure high quality public broadcasting services on a variety of platforms, ranging from the internet to screens in public places. Moreover, European citizens and stakeholders will be able to give their views in public consultations before any new services are put on the market by public service broadcasters.

The text of the Communication is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/legislation/specific_rules.html#broadcasting


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