Broadcasting law set to be updated for the video-sharing age

Updates to Broadcasting Act will see video-sharing platforms and user-generated content regulated

Updates to Broadcasting Act will see video-sharing platforms and user-generated content regulated
Updates to Broadcasting Act will see video-sharing platforms and user-generated content regulated

Updates to Malta’s broadcasting law will see the introduction of regulations applying to video-sharing platforms.

The changes will come in the context of the transformation in audiovisual media services, which minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela said had brought about the need for an updated legal framework that reflects the developments that have taken place and strikes a balance between access, competitiveness and consumer protection.

The updates - in the form of changes to the Broadcasting Act and the implementation of an EU directive - aim to create a level playing field between traditional and newer audiovisual media, and to promote European values and cultural identity, Abela said on Friday.

They will also strengthen the concept of media literacy, since the EU directive makes it mandatory for member states to implement education systems that increase awareness of the effective and safe use of all audiovisual media platforms.

OPM minister Carmelo Abela
OPM minister Carmelo Abela

Abela highlighted that, in recent years, society had experienced rapid technical developments that were driving new types of services, in particular through the convergence of television, internet and mobile services. Moreover, self-generated content, which nowadays forms a substantial section of the available audiovisual material, had also become more popular.

The below is a list of changes which the broadcasting law updates will bring about.

Amendments spurred by the EU directive

  • Introducing regulations on video-sharing platforms;
  • Expanding the scope of the directive so that, having included on-demand services in 2007, it now also covers user-generated videos;
  • Imposing broadcast regulators to have up-to-date information of all service providers under their jurisdiction;
  • The need for the industry to have a self-regulatory framework;
  • The directive introduces an important point on transparency regarding the structure of ownership of particular media services (ownership). Transparency about who owns the media is directly linked to freedom of expression, a fundamental element of democratic systems;
  • The service provider is obliged to also provide sufficient information on the content so that the consumer can make an informed decision on what they will see;
  • How minors’ personal information is processed will ensure that it is more protected;
  • Accessibility of audiovisual content will be enhanced, and the law will oblige providers of these services to implement measures to increase accessibility to their content;
  • A new concept of media literacy is being introduced. Through this, we will be strengthening citizens’ skills and knowledge to be able to use the media more effectively and free of dangers;
  • The way the amount of time available for advertising is calculated is changing and becoming more flexible.

Amendments spurred by changes to the Broadcasting Act:

  • New regulations will be introduced relating to foods containing fats, salts, and sugars (HFSS products), and other regulations related to alcohol advertising and gambling, so that both the Act as well as subsidiary legislation are in conformity with each other. Children will be amongst those who will benefit most from this protection;
  • Regulations on the inclusion of commercial products will be less stringent but the regulations on the inclusion of commercial products will not be touched on in terms of children’s programs, religious products, news and current events;
  • The time when content aimed at an adult audience can be shown is changing from what it is currently - from 9pm onwards to 10pm onwards;
  • With these amendments, the Broadcasting Authority will have jurisdiction over a number of services over which it has so far had no power.

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