The European Parliament has formally approved the Council's position on the new Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive.

The Directive promises to modernise the rules governing the sector and provide a comprehensive legal framework covering all services, including on-demand distribution of content.

The Directive has been developed to a provide more flexible approach for the industry as it negotiates challenges such as changing viewing habits in the wake of technology convergence.

'The dawn of Europe's convergent audiovisual services industry is breaking,' said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. 'With these modernised rules, Europe's audiovisual policies will better meet the demands of a fast-moving and dynamic industry while maintaining high consumer protection standards. There will be less regulation, better financing for content and greater visibility to cultural diversity and the protection of minors.'

Member States now have 24 months to convert the new rules into national law, which apply from 2009.

Commissioner Reding has asked Member States to do this with a 'light touch' to avoid adding stricter national provisions and limiting the potential benefits of the Directive.