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EU to take up TV sans frontiers

BRUSSELS — European Union culture ministers and the European Parliament will begin talks on the revision of the ”television without frontiers” directive before the end of this month, officials confirmed Monday.

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 quota on foreign films and TV programs.

The main focus of the discussions, which have to be concluded within six weeks or else the existing 1989 directive will simply stay in place, 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 embraced 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 cooler response. The commission rejected it out of hand last November on the grounds that the technology is not yet ready, and sources say the council will take the same view.

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