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From Television without Frontiers to the Digital Big Bang: The EU’s Continuous Efforts to Create a Future-proof Internal Media Market

Caroline Pauwels and Karen Donders

Introduction

On December 11, 2007 the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) directive was approved. It was intended that the directive would be implemented in national legislation by Member States within two years (i.e., by the end of 2009 at the latest). This approach is fully in line with the concept of subsidiarity that drives European unification, and is especially relevant in culturally sensitive sectors such as the media. Specifically, directives set out the aims of legislative activity at the European level, provide for a minimum level of harmonization with this, and then give Member States choice and space to translate these objectives into national legislation. In other words, directives leave room for individual national emphasis. In the media sector this can be highly important, specifically for reasons related to cultural policy. Through the AVMS directive, the European regulatory authorities are completing and renewing the legal framework to build a unified media market. The new directive was the second and also the most fundamental amendment of the previous Television Without Frontiers (TWF) directive. This older directive, revised for the first time in 1997, long served as the cornerstone of audiovisual policy in the European Union (EU), together with competition policy.1 When the TWF directive was ...

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