Revised legislation on Audio-Visual Media Services: Some progress but more needed to protect children online

On the 26th of April, the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council reached an preliminary agreement on the main rules of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), under revision for the last several years. COFACE Families Europe has been following the developments around the AVMSD, responded to the consultation and cooperated with various stakeholders to ensure that children’s interests are properly addressed.

As it stands, the preliminary political agreement made progress on several fronts. One of the main ones is the extension of audiovisual rules to video-sharing platforms, which will have to put in place appropriate measures to protect minors online. Another positive development is the promotion of European works: on-demand catalogues will have to propose at least 30% European content.

There remain many questions as to how some of the rules will apply in practice. While the “country of origin” principle has been strengthened in order to specify which Member State’s rules apply, it may still cause problems for content like pornography and cross-border availability of such content with no or little measures to ensure appropriate age verification. Protecting minors against harmful content also remains a challenge, and we will have to wait and see how the new provisions will be applied/enforced in practice.

The major shortcomings, from COFACE Families Europe’s perspective, are the following:

  • No strong protection of children against advertising promoting unhealthy food and beverages (HFSS – High in Fast, Sugar or Salt).
  • No equivalence of the 20% maximum advertising rule for online services, which means advertising online remains unlimited and nearly unregulated.
  • No attempt at devising future proof regulation, looking into new emerging multimedia services like Virtual or Augmented Reality, and the emergence of decentralized platforms and how those will be regulated.

For more information, contact Martin Schmalzried, Policy and Advocacy manager at

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