IRIS Special

The publications in the IRIS Special series tackle current issues in media law and related legal fields.

The themes covered are of direct practical relevance and are explored with academic rigour. The particular value of the IRIS Special series lies in its international approach or the comparison of different legal systems as the case may be. Recognised as a reliable source of information, the series has a track record of supplying both the audiovisual industry and also legislators and other decision makers at national and European level with highly useful data, overviews, ideas and analyses. The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes one or two IRIS Specials annually. Depending on their theme, they each contain 50-150 pages. In many cases, background material – standard-setting legal texts for example – is included.


The issues are available online for free in PDF file hereunder. For a print version, you may purchase it on our online shop for a cost price.

IRIS Special 2017: Media coverage of elections: the legal framework in Europe

Authors: Maja Cappello (ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/07/2017

This report provides an overview of the most recent rules, case-law and policies across Europe with regard to the coverage of elections and referenda in the various media. Looking into broadcasting and print media, as well as the online dimension, it gives an insight into the differing degrees of regulation that political communication is experiencing within the different contexts, and shows – maybe quite surprisingly – that broadcast media remain the most regulated ones (as they remain the most influential), and that social media, despite their increased use by “crooked” politicians, remain substantially unregulated.  More

IRIS Special 2016 - Media ownership - Market realities and regulatory responses

Authors: Maja Cappello (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 17/01/2017

One of the pillars of freedom of expression in the audiovisual sector is media pluralism. This concept covers, on the one hand, the availability of a variety of choice in the programming of the different media players. On the other hand, it concerns the effective presence of a multitude of operators so as to avoid an excessive concentration of the market.  More

IRIS Special 2016 - Regional and local broadcasting in Europe

Authors: Maja Cappello (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 17/09/2016

Already when considering the strong differences across the various institutional systems across Europe, the word region” does not have one and only meaning. This is even more true when speaking about media, which do not necessarily reflect administrative structures, but rather give voice to the numerous communities established at any level that is different from the national one. For this reason, when dealing with regional media, we have opted for a large scope and included in our investigation all types of audiovisual media operating at different sub-national levels, both public service and commercial.  More

IRIS Special 2015 - Smart TV and data protection

Authors: Maja Cappello (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/03/2016

A man walks through a shopping centre. His eyes are flashed by a multitude of cameras equipped with eye-recognition software. Immediately the shop windows start to show on flashy screens advertising specially tailored to him.  More

IRIS Special 2015 - Online activities of public service media: remit and financing

Authors: Maja Cappello (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 03/09/2015

When going online, audiovisual media service providers adapt their activities to the expectations of their audiences and, consequently, elaborate new ways of presenting their content. This is true both for commercial and for public service media (PSM). For the latter there are also further aspects to consider, which are specifically related to their remit and to the fact that they are using public money. The financing of PSM is strictly connected to the definition of their remit according to EU state aid rules and to the interpretative indications given by the European Commission as to their application.  More

IRIS Special 2014 - New forms of commercial communications in a converged audiovisual sector

Authors: Maja Cappello (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 02/12/2014

Going convergent implies several challenges for companies, users, policy makers and regulators, especially when it comes to the multiple facets of commercial communication in the online environment. The steady growth of new on-demand services in a context where most users tend to claim that everything should be free of charge has obliged a rethink of the ways of funding audiovisual content. If direct payment and the 30-second spot were the monetary drivers in the linear world, many service providers are now using big data as main currency and behavioural advertising as their leading form of commercial communication.  More

IRIS Special 2014 - Video on Demand and the Promotion of European Works

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/01/2014

Europe has a strong tradition of promoting European works, which generally speaking we Europeans regard as an important part of our culture and which we are traditionally ready to defend against blockbusters and to foster in the name of cultural diversity. The promotion of European works is at the same time an important investment in Europe’s future in as much as the creative sector depends on fi nancial support and a generally welcoming attitude towards European works.  More

IRIS Special 2012 - Converged Markets - Converged Power? Regulation and Case Law

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 17/12/2012

Eleven years ago, the European Audiovisual Observatory published the IRIS Special entitled “Television and Media Concentration”. Back then it still seemed meaningful to restrict the publication to the regulation of traditional forms of concentration in the broadcasting sector and, to this end, collect and analyse information on specific national concentration rules and relevant competition-law decisions.  More

IRIS Special 2011 - The Regulation of On-demand Audiovisual Services: Chaos or Coherence?

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/12/2011

It is common practice that the European Commission sends fact finding letters to ensure that national laws of all member states correctly implement all aspects of EU directives within the given time frame. The letters addressed in March this year to Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom and in early September to Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Hungary Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg with questions concerning the compatibility of national media laws with the rules of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive thus follow the envisaged procedures for clarifying transposition measures.  More

IRIS Special 2010 - Digitisation and Online Exploitation of Broadcasters' Archives

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 02/12/2010

On 5 November 2010, Commissioner Neelie Kroes spoke – not for the first time – on the opportunities that digitisation of cultural works offer to artists, the general public, the question of cultural diversity and Europe as such.1 Forward looking, she pointed out that the variety of copyright laws could be a potential stumbling block for using these opportunities and announced that “Instead of a dysfunctional system based on a series of cultural Berlin walls,…” she wanted “…a return to sense.“  More

IRIS Special 2010 - The Regulatory Framework for Audiovisual Media Services in Russia

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 17/02/2010

2009 saw a steady flow of information on the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive and one does not need a crystal ball to predict the next wave of information that will spill over our desks in 2010, be it to tell us about transposition and implementation or about EU enforcement measures. The European Audiovisual Observatory has already analysed some of the core questions that the Directive raises, concentrating especially on those that are likely to continue to trouble legislators, regulators and the industry. As a result, we published in June 2009 the IRIS Special entitled “Ready, Set…Go? – The Audiovisual Media Services Directive”.  More

IRIS Special 2009 - Ready, Set … Go?

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/07/2009

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive. If the transposition of the EC Directive were to be compared to a competition, it would be between the national legislatures to see which has produced the best domestic law. Many different yardsticks could be used to measure which law is the “best”, such as the interests of the legislature or of those to whom the provisions are directed, the rights to be protected, the interests of society or – perhaps in first place in the EC context – its benefit for the EC’s internal market. However, the different interests involved are just one aspect of this publication, which also deals with the means of transposing the Directive, that is to say the choice and characteristics of the models selected and the actual steps taken to implement the provisions and subsequently monitor the results. These aspects are also important when it comes to assessing the quality of the domestic law in each case.  More

IRIS Special 2009 - Creativity Comes at a Price

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/03/2009

The signatories to the European Social Charter underline in its Preamble the fact that the standard of living and the social-well being of their populations are key to safeguarding human rights. In all likelihood they were similarly aware of how central this is for the prospering of their markets.  More

IRIS Special 2008 - Searching for Audiovisual Content

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 12/12/2008

In 1989/90 Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web (WWW) for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Barely 20 years old, it has made an unprecedented impact on the way we deal with information. The WWW has Become a key resource for private life and business. To Each of us it offers an unimaginable variety and quantity of content and it calls on each of us to also use it in order to share our own creations with others. The WWW nurtures our expectations of what information we can find, it influences our habits of how and where to look for content, and it generates fears as to whether we master the machine or the machine masters us.  More

IRIS Special 2008 - Editorial Responsibility

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/08/2008

Almost exactly twenty years after the adoption of the “Television without Frontiers” Directive, namely on 19 December 2009, the deadline for transposing the Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD) will expire. In other words, the national rules that so far served to facilitate cross-border television must be adapted or replaced in order to reflect, among others, the widened scope of application of the Community law framework to non-linear services.  More

IRIS Special 2007 - Legal Aspects of Video on Demand

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 17/12/2007

Whenever a “new” audiovisual service becomes established, questions are inevitably asked about what legal norms govern it and whether those norms take sufficient account of all legitimate needs and interests. As far as video-on-demand (VoD) is concerned, it is clear that the “Television without Frontiers” Directive (89/552/EEC, last amended by Directive 97/36/EC) does not apply.  More

IRIS Special 2007 - The Public Service Broadcasting Culture

Authors: Susanne NIKOLTCHEV (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/03/2007

In the recent Report “Public service media in the information society”, commissioned by the Council of Europe, Christian S. Nissen points to a provocative argument in the vibrant discussions about public service broadcasting. He writes that public service media can be seen as a remedy for a market failure inasmuch as the content offered by commercial providers is characterised by a lack of national and cultural diversity, and as such, does not reflect the diversity of European nations and regions. As the author stresses this argument was not the rationale for establishing public broadcasting systems. It might, however, be very relevant for its future.  More

IRIS Special 2006 - Audiovisual Media Services without Frontiers - Implementing the Rules

Authors: Susanne Nikoltchev (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/12/2006

Working from the premise that after a revision of the TVwF Directive the rules of the two leading European instruments on broadcasting will be once more re-aligned, this publication seeks to explore the interplay between the Directive and the Convention. It will focus on monitoring and implementation issues that already gave rise to discussions in the past. The revision of the Directive matters only insofar as it may mitigate or intensify existing problems. To be clear, this publication will not deal with the concrete points that might set the two frameworks apart (points, which in any event, only become concrete after the finalisation of the revision of the Directive) until re-alignment takes place.  More

IRIS Special 2006 - Broadcasters' Obligations to Invest in Cinematographic Production

Authors: Susanne Nikoltchev (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/12/2006

This IRIS Special describes the various ways in which the television industry supports cinematographic film – whether enshrined in law or on a voluntary basis, whether direct or indirect. It considers broadcasters' investment obligations in different European countries and investigates whether they are laid down in law, agreed in contracts or entered into voluntarily by broadcasters. It also explains the rules of procedure, discusses what broadcasters might receive in return and mentions some important economic factors. Where necessary or useful, this publication also contains information about national film funding mechanisms.  More

IRIS Special 2005 - To Have or Not to Have Must-Carry Rules

Authors: Susanne Nikoltchev (Ed.), European Audiovisual Observatory

Published: 01/12/2005

Must-carry rules are one string in the regulators' bow regarding their efforts to ensure that all viewers may enjoy a certain basic content package. The establishment of new distribution platforms for television content (mainly cable) seemed to call this aim into question. It was feared that without legislative intervention incoming platform operators might refuse to carry certain programmes or, alternatively, might use exclusivity contracts to take certain programmes away from traditional carriers. Under either scenario, the viewers' choice of platform would have become synonymous with their choice of content and the idea of universal content would have died.  More