Parliamentary question E-2505/03 by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-2505/03
by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission
(17 July 2003)
Subject: Procedure 2001/2151 instituted against Italy under Article 226 of the Treaty for infringement of Directive 89/552/EEC (Television without Frontiers)
In 2001 the Commission instituted infringement procedure 2001/2151 against Italy under Article 226 of the Treaty in connection with the implementation of Council Directive 89/552/EEC(1) (as amended by Directive 97/36/EC(2)).
On 20 March 2002 it decided (PV (2002) 1560) to send a letter of formal notice to the Italian authorities.
A recent study by Carat Export indicates that the weekly advertising concentration in Italy (435 potential spot advertisements) is apparently double the level in Germany (220) and France (260).
In its annual reports for 2000 (point 8.1), 2001 (point 2.5.1), and 2002 (point 3.12.1) the Media Safeguards Authority, the body responsible under Italian law for monitoring compliance with the provisions in question, stated that it had initiated investigations and other procedures in order to establish what infringements had been committed by television stations where advertising and sponsorship were concerned.
Does the Commission believe that the Italian state has sufficiently supervised television stations as regards commercial advertising (timing of spot advertisements, commercial breaks, concentration rates, teleshopping, and infomercials), as it is required to do under Directive 89/552/EEC and the amendments thereto?
Does it consider that the procedure for determining whether the directive has been infringed, adopted by the Italian Parliament in implementation of the directive, is appropriate for its purpose? Furthermore, does it think that the Italian authorities have interpreted the letter of the directive according to its spirit?
Does it know how many infringements were ascertained by the Media Safeguards Authority in the years from 1999 to 2002 and in how many cases penalties were imposed as a result?
Does it believe that the Media Safeguards Authority has employed human and financial resources on the scale required to enable it effectively to perform the tasks assigned to it by law?
(1) OJ L 298, 7.10.1989, p. 23.
(2) OJ L 202, 30.7.1997, p. 60.
Answer given by Mrs Reding
on behalf of the Commission
(1 September 2003)
The infringement procedure the Honourable Member refers to was based on a monitoring conducted by the Commission in 1999. The results of the monitoring raised serious doubts whether the Italian authorities were sufficiently supervising the application of legislation implementing Chapter IV of the Television without frontiers Directive (1). The Italian authorities argued that the monitoring period coincided with the transitional stage when the powers were transferred from the broadcasting and publishing standards board and the Ministry of Communications to the newly established authority and that the situation had considerably improved since then.
The Commission asked for additional information concerning the improvement made in monitoring of the rules on advertising and the reply of the Italian authorities of 21 May 2003 provided satisfactory answers to its questions. Staff allocated to this task had increased from 2000 to 2002 of about 30 % (4,5 to 6 full time). Financial resources have been doubled in the same period (€ 61 000 to € 122 000). As far as the number of proceedings is concerned the Italian authorities reported that 198 proceedings against broadcasters were initiated in 1999 and 497 in 2000. According to information available a recent High Court ruling has simplified the current procedure and therefore makes it easier for the Media Safeguards Authority to impose effective sanctions.
With a view to the essentially enhanced situation concerning the application of the Directive the Commission on 9 July 2003, decided to terminate this case. This does not exclude that the Commission might start or continue with infringement procedures that concern specific, advertising practices in Italy.
(1)Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by Law, Regulation or Administrative Action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, as amended by Directive 97/36/EC of the Parliament and the Council of 30 June 1997.
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