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EU Policy in the Area of Communications

As set forth by the TVWFD, access to information is to be enforced such that all citizens may enjoy on free television the major sports and cultural events, or at least the public extracts featuring highlights of such events, that are of high public interest. Also, the Directive mandates Member states to ensure freedom of reception and retransmission in their jurisdiction of television broadcasts from other Member states, except when the broadcast seriously and gravely threatens to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular, those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence (Council of European Communities, 1989, p. 23).As set forth by the TVWFD, access to information is to be enforced such that all citizens may enjoy on free television the major sports and cultural events, or at least the public extracts featuring highlights of such events, that are of high public interest. Also, the Directive mandates Member states to ensure freedom of reception and retransmission in their jurisdiction of television broadcasts from other Member states, except when the broadcast seriously and gravely threatens to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular, those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence (Council of European Communities, 1989, p. 23).The rules imposed to the Directive are apparently too liberal and absolute, in favor of the free exchange of information, and too restrictive in the matter of Member states exercising their discretion to control the entry of harmful informational broadcast content. This is not to say that there is no high-level commitment to the Directive, but particular circumstances may call into question the wisdom of an absolutist approach in the Directive’s interpretation. For instance, Germany has gained a reputation for its hardline stance against racial hate speech to uphold the personal dignity right protected by Article One of the German Basic Law. This is for good reason: Suppose a nationalist government takes power in one of the new Member States and the German broadcasting authorities doubt that it’s broadcasting authority will clamp down on neo-Nazi programming … and show a documentary of David Irving, a notorious Holocaust denier… (Bignami, 2004, p. 129), then conceivably Germany may ban such broadcast within its jurisdiction.

EU Policy in the Area of Communications