The European Commission is considering the methods it will use to monitor Video on Demand (VoD) content when the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is introduced in 2009.

Specifically, it is looking at ways to monitor how European content is promoted by VoD services.

Possible criteria could include:

  • financial contributions to the production and rights acquisition of European works
  • the actual number of European programmes viewed on VoD services
  • how prominently VoD services display or promote European content.

The new AVMSD will replace the Television without Frontiers Directive (TWFD). It was developed to provide a more flexible regulatory framework reflecting the changes in content provision and viewing driven by convergence.

The new Directive introduces VoD services for the first time and obliges VoD service providers to promote European content under Article 3. However, that obligation on VoD service providers is much more loosely worded than the existing rules for TV broadcasters, which will still apply.

Currently, under the TWF Directive, TV broadcasters have to provide 50% European content and 10% from independents. No such percentages will apply to VoD services. Instead, on demand services are asked only to 'promote, where practicable and by appropriate means, the production of and access to European works'.

That will make monitoring VoD compliance difficult. The Commission's approach to the task has yet to be finalised before the new Directive is fully enforced. In that context, the Commission is now looking to VoD service and content providers, independent producers and broadcasters for their views on how Article 3 can be best applied.

A study has been commissioned from a consortium of media and management consultants comprising Attentional, Oliver & Ohlbaum, Headway International and Ramboll Management. The research will include questionnaires specifically targeted at VoD service and content providers, broadcasters and independent producers. The results of the study will form the basis of the consortium's advice to the Commission on the shape of any future monitoring procedures.

Questionnaires relating to the study can be found at'id=60