The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is the legal framework that establishes the fundamental principles for a safe, pluralistic and open audiovisual media landscape in Europe.

On 25 April 2017, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education voted to amend the proposal for an updated EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive, presented by the Commission on 25 May 2016. The overarching goal of the proposal is to bring about a balance between competitiveness and consumer protection. It therefore aims to introduce flexibility when restrictions only applicable to TV are no longer justified, promote European films, protect minors and tackle hate speech more efficiently. The proposal also reflects a new approach to online platforms.

Throughout recent times Alcohol Action Ireland have advocated for greater protection of children from the revised Directive under two areas:

Commercial communications
The Commission proposes to deregulate commercial communications. Concretely, the hourly limit becomes daily (between 7 am and 11 pm). However, it maintains the 20 % limit on advertising time, while offering more flexibility as to when spots can be shown. Rules on product placement and sponsorship are also set to be eased, but at the same time the Commission encourages the adoption of self- and co-regulation for the existing rules seeking to protect the most vulnerable (alcohol advertising, fatty food, minors, etc.).

Protection of minors
The two-tier approach is replaced by common rules valid for all AVMS providers without distinction concerning content that ‘may impair’. The most harmful content will be subject to the strictest measures, such as PIN codes and encryption. This will also apply to on-demand services. In addition, EU countries have to ensure that AVMS providers give sufficient information to viewers about harmful content to minors.

You will find the most up to date [June 2017] briefing document on the Directive here.

Additionally, European Parliament negotiators and the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU agreed on substantial rules for audiovisual media services, including digital platforms, on 26 April, 2018. The revised legislation will apply to broadcasters, but also to video-on-demand and video-sharing platforms, such as Netflix, YouTube or Facebook, as well as to the live streaming on video-sharing platforms. European Parliament negotiators claim to have secured enhanced protection for children, stricter rules on advertising, and at least 30% of content in programmes of TV channels and VOD platforms must be European.


You can follow their assessment of the outcomes negotiated here:

Protecting minors from violence, hatred, terrorism and harmful advertising

In October 2018, the European Parliament plenary session approved the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). Part of the Digital Single Market strategy, the new rules pave the way for a fairer regulatory environment for the entire audiovisual sector, including on-demand services and video sharing platforms.

They promote European audiovisual productions and guarantee the independence of audiovisual regulators, strengthen the protection of minors and reinforce the battle against hate speech in all audiovisual content.

The new Directive additionally promotes European works by guaranteeing a 30% share of European works in on-demand catalogues and keeps the country-of-origin principle as the cornerstone of EU audiovisual regulation, with more clarity on which Member State’s rules apply in each case.


Digital Single Market: updated audiovisual rules : 02/10/2018

For alcohol advertising, the co-legislators agreed also to encourage further development of self- or co-regulation, if necessary also at EU level, to effectively reduce the exposure of minors to such advertisements. This does not prevent Member States from applying stricter rules such as, for example, banning alcohol advertisements or adopting other measures.

Online Media and Safety Regulation Act 2022

In Ireland the process of translating the AVMSD into national legislation began with the publication of the Online Media and Safety Regulation Bill 2022.

AAI contributed to a number of consultations on this Bill strongly advocating that children must be protected from online advertising of alcohol.

Throughout 2022 AAI worked closely with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and the Irish Heart Foundation to protect children from online alcohol, gambling advertisements and junk food advertisements. AAI advocated strongly with legislators for such curbs incorporated in the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill as it progressed through the Oireachtas. This Bill was enacted in December 2022. Within the legislation there is provision for a Commission to be established which will produce codes which may prohibit or restrict commercial communications relation to foods or beverages considered by the Commission to be the subject of public concern in respect of the general public health interests of children. During the Seanad Éireann debate on this issue on 11 July 2022 Minister Catherine Martin clarified that ‘alcohol would probably be considered a matter of public concern in respect of the general public health interests of children.’ AAI will continue to pursue this issue with the Commission when it is established in 2023.