19th EPRA meeting in Stockholm

posted on 17 June, 2004   (public)

Stockholm was the location of the 19th EPRA meeting on the 3 and 4 of June 2004.

124 participants from 38 countries attended the meeting, which was jointly hosted by the Swedish Broadcasting Commission and the Swedish Radio and TV Authority. 48 regulatory authorities were represented and were joined by the permanent observers from the Council of Europe, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the European Commission. Representatives from Iceland and the Isle of Man participated for the first time as observers.

The first plenary session was dedicated to the topic of 'Matters of Privacy: Where to draw the line between privacy and public interest?' The session started with a keynote address from Pär-Arne Jigenius, former press Ombudsman, who identified and reported on concrete examples of where the boundaries between privacy and public interest could be set. The following debate emphasised the great diversity in the remit of regulatory authorities in that field and in what constitutes an invasion of privacy.

The second part of the plenary dealt with the outcome of the DTT Working Group, a pilot group composed of EPRA members under the direction of the Italian AGCOM. On the basis of a questionnaire and a one-off meeting in Rome, the AGCOM produced an extensive and highly-praised report whose aim is to assess the state of DTT development across Europe and to attempt an evaluation of the factors that can determine its success or accelerate the transition within a specific broadcasting environment. The experience with this pilot group was considered a very enriching and positive one. Concrete suggestions on regularly updating the DTT report and the possible launch of another pilot group will be discussed at the next meeting.

Two working groups convened simultaneously during the afternoon of the first day. 'Protection of Minors: Examples and Current Issues of Concern' was the theme of the first working group where video examples from France, Germany and Romania were presented. Three key issues were discussed, i.e. the application of the TVWF Directive and the distinction between the concept of 'seriously impair the development of minors' compared to 'impair the development of minors', the instruments at the disposal of regulators such as rating symbols and watershed rules, and the range of sanctions applicable in such cases.

The second working group, on 'Regulation of Radio: Localness, Licensing, Digitalisation', was based on contributions from Denmark, France, Ireland and the UK. Even though, unlike with television, there is no harmonisation at the European level of the content provisions governing radio broadcasting, all authorities experienced common challenges such as preserving localness and encouraging the development of digital radio. However, the solutions chosen by the national authorities to achieve these objectives and the degree of success of these initiatives are extremely diverse.

On the second day, representatives from the European Commission and the Council of Europe reported on their recent activities. Members then debated on amendments to the EPRA statutes aiming at more precision and clarification, as well as reducing some rigidities, rather than bringing about substantial changes in the organisation and activities of EPRA.

Last but not least, Izabella Chruslinska from the Polish KRRiT was elected in the EPRA Executive Board to replace Lennart van der Meulen who left his authority last December.

The next meeting of the EPRA is scheduled for 14-15 October 2004 in Istanbul at the invitation of the Turkish Radio and Television Supreme Council.