The European Convention on Transfrontier Television – which
was the first multilateral treaty to ensure the unimpeded transmission
of programmes across borders – is now 24 years old, having been
revised only once around ten years ago. Originally intended to set
minimum standards for programming, advertising and sponsorship,
it has largely been overtaken by technological and societal changes.
In European Union member States, it has also been superseded by
a series of evolving European Union directives with the same aim. Indeed,
plans for a further update to the convention were stopped in 2011
after objections from the European Commission that it alone had
exclusive competence in this field as regards European Union member
And yet, as this report makes clear, 13 of the 33 Council
of Europe States to have ratified the convention are not members
of the European Union. In the current situation, these countries
are prevented, in a constantly changing media environment, from
having an updated legal instrument, with a consequent risk of diverging standards.
For the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, the way
forward is for the Council of Europe to revise and modernise the
convention so that it takes account of the latest technological
standards. The European Union, for its part, should resume talks
with the Council of Europe on this, in order to create a truly pan-European
legal framework for media freedom issues.