On 18 October 2010 the amendments of the Law on Provision of Information to the Public came into force. They are mainly related to the transposition and implementation of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive.
It should be noted that the adopted amendments stipulate some changes in the scope of the activities of the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania. The amended Law foresees that as before, it will be the Radio and Television Commission’s prerogative to grant licences for broadcasting and rebroadcasting activities as well as to control the licensed activities, however the Licensing Rules, which determine the terms of licence issuing shall have to be approved by the Ministry of Culture under the Radio and Television Commission’s proposal. In addition, the Ministry of Culture shall approve the Rules for Setting the Licence Fee, proposed by the Radio and Television Commission and shall determine licence fee for each individual broadcaster or rebroadcaster. According to the former Law these two issues were dealt with by the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania.
On the other hand the scope of the Commission’s activities was expanded by adding the functions to register the video-on-demand (VOD) service providers, to control their activities and to consider complaints regarding their activities in case such occur; in conformity with the Law to suspend broadcasting of foreign progammes targeted to the territory of Lithuania; to prepare the list of the events of major importance and to submit it to the Ministry of Culture for further approval by the Government.
In compliance with the AVMSD provisions the amended Law foresees different regulation for linear and non-linear audiovisual services. Before the transposition of the AVMSD VOD services were not the subject of regulation in Lithuania. From now on, VOD service providers shall be obliged to register their services at the Commission prior to the start of their activities in accordance with the Rules set by the Radio and Television Commission. Such registering does not in any way mean getting the permit for the activities, but rather declaring of the activities and providing a short information about the service provider, i.e. the name, address, contacts, etc.
The amended Law obliges the VOD service providers to ensure that not less than half of their programme catalogue should consist of the European production.
Furthermore, in accordance with the legally determined order they have to ensure that programmes, which might impair physical, mental or moral development of minors shall be provided in such a way that they could be listened or viewed only under the control of persons, who are responsible for the supervision and upbringing of minors. The amended Law does not foresee specific technical means to ensure this requirement; this shall be done at the service provider’s choice.
Having regard to the provisions of the AVMS Directive, the requirements for advertising on television were revised. A new notion “audiovisual commercial communication” was introduced. It encompasses TV advertising, sponsorship announcements, teleshopping and product placement. The amended Law provides for the identical with the Directive rules on Product Placement, with one exception that it shall be forbidden not only in children’s programmes, but news programmes too.
The amended Law for the first time obliged the audiovisual service providers to ensure the possibility for their service users to obtain information on the audiovisual service provider’s name, address of establishment, e-mail and internet address as well as the name, address and telephone number of their Regulatory Authority in a very simple, direct and constant manner. The way of providing this information shall be determined by the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania.
Besides that, the amended Law provides for a new provision according to which the audiovisual service providers shall prepare Codes of Conduct regarding inappropriate audiovisual commercial communication insertions into the children’s programmes.