In the profoundly changing and dynamic world of contemporary
audiovisual media, what has remained surprisingly unaffected is
regulation. In the European Union, the new Audiovisual Media Services
Directive (AVMS), proposed by the European Commission on 13 December 2005,
should allegedly rectify this situation. Amending the existing Television
without Frontiers Directive, it should offer a “fresh
approach” and meet the challenge of appropriately regulating media
in a complex environment. It is meant to achieve a balance between the
free circulation of TV broadcast and new audiovisual media and the
preservation of values of cultural identity and diversity, while
respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality inherent to
the European Community (EC). This paper examines whether and how the
changes envisaged to the EC audiovisual media regime might influence
cultural diversity in Europe. It addresses subseqently the question of
whether the new AVMS properly safeguards the balance between competition
and the public interest in this regard, or whether cultural diversity
remains a mere political banner.
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