PositionTelecommunications regulations

The European Commission faces a heavy agenda on the Information Society in 2007. Viviane Reding, the Commissioner responsible for the portfolio, presented the broad outlines of this agenda to the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education on 18 December. Following the adoption in first reading of the report by Ruth Hieronymi (EPP-ED, Germany) on the revision of the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive, which leaves the EU executive almost entirely satisfied, the Commission's attention will notably turn to media pluralism, television on mobile telephones and online content. The Commission is also preparing its proposal for reform of the telecommunications regulatory framework, but will need to be careful in its manoeuvrings with the German EU Presidency, which will take the EU helm between January and June 2007, and may not table its proposal "before summer 2007" (March, according to certain sources).


Taking note of amendments on media pluralism tabled in the context of the debate on the revision of the TVWF Directive, Viviane Reding nevertheless expressed some reservations. "I do not believe the Community level is necessarily the only and the right level beyond the issue of competition", she suggested. She is nevertheless convinced that "further reflection" is needed. Along with Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom (Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy), she is therefore preparing a working paper on the issue due to be published on 16 January. This paper will serve as a basis for "in-depth reflection on very concrete elements," which should in turn lead to a communication in the course of 2008. The aim is to draw the College's attention notably to the notion of introducing European indicators' for media pluralism as well as the principle of independence of national telecommunications regulators. This last element was already present in the proposal for the revision of the TVWF Directive; it was approved by a large majority of MEPs, but only the Netherlands and Latvia have expressed support within the Council. The Commission has clearly come to the conclusion that the member states take different views on media pluralism, adding that: "none want to see Europe given responsibility in this area". Reding therefore proposes to analyse the various national and regional measures and to examine scope for developments from this broad basis. She proposes to launch not an ideological...

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