14th EPRA Meeting in Malta

posted on 29 September, 2001   (public)

The European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) held its 14th meeting on 27-28 September in Malta, at the invitation of the Malta Broadcasting Authority

Over 90 representatives from 41 regulatory authorities responsible for broadcasting throughout Europe met to exchange information and experience on European and national regulatory issues in the field of radio and television.

The main topic on the agenda was the regulation of television advertising in the light of the future review of the Television without Frontiers (TWF) Directive. The session started with a presentation by Martin Hart, Head of Sponsorship of the British regulator the ITC. He discussed the regulation of some important advertising developments such as interactive advertising, virtual advertising, split-screen and all-advertising channels. Willemien Bax, Deputy Director of the European Consumers' Organisation (BEUC) dealt with the issue of commercial communication and children from a consumer protection point of view. Gernot Schumann, European Affairs Commissioner of the German DLM focused on concrete suggestions to modify the advertising provisions of the TWF Directive. The following discussion showed that even though most EPRA members were sympathetic towards the idea of simplifying and supported a degree of deregulation of the existing advertising rules, a consensus could not be reached on concrete measures such as the abolition of advertising time limits, or the restriction of advertising during children's programmes.

Two separate working groups convened simultaneously during the afternoon of the first day. While the first working group addressed the issue of access in the digital TV environment and access to cable, the second working group was dedicated to the topic of the protection of minors. On the second day, following a presentation by the European Commission and the Council of Europe of their recent activities, a debate on the pros and the cons of convergent regulatory authorities took place. It turned out that most EPRA members were cautious towards the idea.

The European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA) was set up in April 1995 in Malta with the aim of enabling representatives of regulatory authorities to meet regularly in an informal way to exchange information about national and European media regulation and discuss practical solutions to legal problems related to the interpretation and application of media regulation. To date, 42 regulatory authorities are members of the EPRA, the latest additions being the Council of Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting and The Second Television and Radio Authority from Israel, which were considered, though not European in the geographical sense, to have much in common with other European regulators with regard to broadcasting regulation. The European Commission (DG Education and Culture) and the Council of Europe (Media Division) have the status of permanent observers.

The next meeting of EPRA is scheduled for 16-17 May 2002 in Brussels, at the joint invitation of the Belgian regulatory authorities.