MEPs vote for more protection from harmful online content for children

The MEPs voted in favour of a requirement for at least 30% of all content on video-demand platforms should be European

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to update legislation on audiovisual media services in a bid to increase protection of children online, through the adoption of scricter rules on advertisments. MEPs also voted in favour of requiring 30% of content on video-on-demand sites to be European.

The changes to the legislation still need to be approved by the Council of EU ministers, after which member states will have 21 months to transpose them into national legislation.

Once the change in law is approved the revision will apply to all broadcasters as well as video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, like "Netflix, YouTube and Facebook, as well as live streaming on video-sharing platforms”.

Such platforms and audiovisual media service providers will need to take measures to fight content that include; violence, hatred and terrorism. Furthermore gratuitous violence and pornography will be subjected to the strictest rules available.  

The changes to the law does not include automatic filtering of uploaded content.

Currently legislation does not include any filtering of content before it is uploaded, as that would restrict the freedom of communication. Parliament made it clear however that platforms need to create "a transparent, easy-to-use and effective mechanism to allow users to report or flag content".

The change in law also adds new rules limiting the amount of advertising permissable on such platforms. Adverting will only be able to make up a maximum of 20% of daily broadcasting between 6am and 6pm. Between 6pm and 12am, considered to be popular time slots for broadcasters, advertising will be allowed to take up a maximum of 30% of broadcasting time. 

“It’s a known fact that some media content is harmful for minors. It is our duty - as policy makers - to ensure that children are safeguarded from such content,” said Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Zammit Dimech explained that the updated directive introduces strict rules on advertising and product placement in children’s programmes including reducing exposure to publicity for unhealthy food and beverages.

Zammit Dimech emphasised the importance to support the European film sector. “Films are part of our cultural identity which we want to strengthen” he added. With new provisions, at least 30% of content available both on TV and video on demand needs to be European work. Zammit Dimech said “this is crucial to invest more in European artists and ensure more content is generated for us users to enjoy”.

The MEP also spoke also about the importance of media pluralism. “Societies across all the EU Member States need to ensure that media is given the necessary space to ensure that media personnel and journalists are able to work with full liberty. We cannot on the one hand speak of media freedom and media pluralism, and on the other hand not being able to ensure the protection of journalists ensuring that what happened to Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak will not happen again,” insisted Zammit Dimech.

Zammit Dimech was the EPP Group Rapporteur on media pluralism and freedom within the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.