Translation with SYSTRAN Links

Audio-visual regulation of the EU: New directive SMA in 5 questions

Publication date: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Fotolia_13207982_XS© xavdlp

The European audio-visual sector is controlled by a directive: directive SMA for “Service of the audio-visual mediums “. Its last version goes back to 2007, also is it in the course of revision to integrate the recent evolutions of the sector. Discover the directive in 5 key points. 


1. What do a directive and who deal with writing?

A directive is a legal note European taken by the Council of the European Union with the Parliament or alone in some of the cases. It binds the States recipients of the directive as for the objective to be reached, but it leaves them the choice of the means and the form to achieve this goal within the time allowed by it. If a directive on the audio-visual mediums is adopted, France, like the other European States, will have to transpose it in its legislation.

Various bodies intervene in the development of an European directive: the European Commission (the executive body of the Union), the Council of the European Union (representing the governments of the Member States) and the European Parliament (representing citizens of the Member States). In theory, it is up to the Commission to propose new European legislative acts. The Parliament and the Council discuss them and adopt them. The Member States must then transpose the directives in the national law and are then given the responsibility to apply them. The Commission takes care of the good implementation of these texts.


2. What wants to say “SMA”?

“SMA” means service of audio-visual mediums. One distinguishes two service types from audio-visual mediums:

  • linear services of television;
  • the non-linear services, which indicate the services of audio-visual contents to the request, where the contents as the moment of its watching are chosen by the user. It is for example about MyTF1, 6Play, Netflix, Amazon Precedes Videos, CanalPlay etc

Moreover, the new directive SMA, for which an agreement was reached on April 26th, 2018 between the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, will integrate in its field, at the sides of the Services of Audio-visual mediums, the platforms of division of videos, the social networks and the platforms of videos of direct.


3. For what is used directive SMA and why it was important to revise it?

Directive SMA fixes a base of common rules for the editors of services[1] of the European Union and for the platforms of division of videos, the social networks and the platforms of live diffusion, thus making it possible to make safe and harmonize the legal framework of the European audio-visual sector.

It rests on the principle of the country of origin: when an editor of services is established in a Member State of the EU and that he wants to distribute his services in another Member State, they are the rules of the country in which he is established which applies[2].

The revision of the directive is a determining stage in the modernization of the European regulation, per hour when the audiovisual landscape is marked by deep changes related on the technological changes, the changes in the practices of consumption, or to the appearance of new actors as the platforms of division of videos, the social networks or the platforms of live diffusion.

[1] By “services” one understands at the same time the TV channels or the services of audio-visual mediums to request (SMAD). For example TF1, M6, TMC, W9 for the TV channels. Mytf1 or 6Play for the SMAD.

[2] This principle of the country of origin suffers however from an exception in the new directive as regards the investment of the editors in the production. 


4. Which are the principal projections of the new directive?

The new directive reinforces the relevance and the effectiveness of the regulation by reducing lawful asymmetries between the various types of actors and by encouraging new forms of regulation:

  • The field of application of the directive will be extended with the platforms of division of videos and the social networks, like with the live diffusion (“livestreaming”). These actors will have to then set up specific measures, in particular as regards protection of the minors, fight against the incentive with hatred and of fight against the apology for terrorism;
  • The objectives of cultural diversity will remain a priority, in particular via the requirement of a quota of 30% of European works in the catalogues of the services of audio-visual mediums to the request (SMAD) and the application of the rules of the country targeted to the financial contributions of the linear services like nonlinear services;
  • The recourse to the mechanisms the auto- ones and of Co-regulation will be strongly encouraged;
  • The implementation of the directive will be ensured by the national regulators, in particular through the Group of the European regulators of the services of audio-visual mediums (ERGA). The independence of these regulators will be in addition marked and defined in the text of the directive.  


5. Does the adoption of the directive mean that all the European countries are subject to the same rules?

After validation of directive SMA by the European institutions, the Member States can choose to transpose in their national law this directive in the state, or to adopt more strict rules whenever the directive does not prohibit it expressly. Directive SMA thus makes it possible to establish a minimal base of common rules which spares national particularisms all the same.