Euro TV directive to get a rethink

BRUSSELS — Talks between EU culture ministers and the European Parliament on the revision of the television without frontiers directive are now expected to kick off April 16, commission officials said Tuesday.

The talks, under the so-called “conciliation procedure,” will aim to settle outstanding differences between the parliamentarians and the Council of Ministers on the new directive, which will maintain the EU’s loosely enforced 51% quota on foreign films and TV programs.

The main focus of the discussions, which must conclude within six weeks or the existing 1989 directive will remain in force, will be two proposals put forward by the Parliament in November 1996.

The first proposal, which is designed to guarantee all European viewers the right to watch live coverage of top sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympic Games without having to pay, has now been taken on board in substance by the European Commission and the EU Council of Ministers, and is likely to be included in the new directive.

The Parliament’s other key proposal, which would require all new TV sets to be equipped with the V-chip, has had a less warm response.

The commission rejected it out of hand last November on the grounds that the technology is not yet ready to introduce the chip, and Daily Variety understands that the council will take the same view.

Officials believe that outstanding differences between the council and the Parliament could be resolved well within the six-week deadline set for the “conciliation procedure,” possibly even at the first meeting of Parliament and council representatives on April 16

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