European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) Book Series
The Independence of the Media and its Regulatory Agencies pages:83-110
This chapter compares the requirements imposed under EU law for independence of regulatory authorities in the information and communication technology sectors. It starts by examining the provisions that are most relevant for media regulators (which form the focus of this book), notably those in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (European Parliament and the Council of the European Union 2010, hereafter: AVMS Directive). These provisions might seem rather weak at first sight, which is the result of a sensitive compromise struck between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council.
The subsequent sections of this chapter will elaborate on the requirements – both regarding independence and powers – which apply to regulatory authorities in a number of closely related information and communication technology sectors, such as electronic communications, data protection and public service broadcasting. The relevance of this analysis goes further than merely providing a comparative overview. Considering the close relationship between the audiovisual sector and, for instance, the electronic communications sector, it is highly probable that rules imposed in these closely related sectors will influence the concept of regulatory bodies in the audiovisual media sector (either because these rules directly apply to them when they perform certain tasks in ‘the other sector’, or indirectly, by indicating a trend in Europe towards more empowered and more independent regulatory authorities, centred around the objective to guarantee the impartiality of their decisions).
Hence the conclusion that requirements for independence of audiovisual media regulatory authorities in the AVMS Directive might seem rather weak and difficult to enforce needs to be nuanced in the light of the requirements applicable in a number of closely related sectors.