This Convention is the first international treaty creating a legal framework for the free circulation of transfrontier television programmes in Europe, through minimum common rules, in fields such as programming, advertising, sponsorship and the protection of certain individual rights.
It entrusts the transmitting States with the task of ensuring that television programme services transmitted comply with its provisions. In return, freedom of reception of programme services is guaranteed as well as the retransmission of the programme services which comply with the minimum rules of the Convention.
The Convention applies to all transfrontier programmes regardless of the technical means of transmission used (satellite, cable, terrestrial transmitters, etc.).
Its main provisions cover:
freedom of expression, reception, and retransmission;
- right of reply (transfrontier character of this right and other comparable recourse);
- pornography, violence, incitement to racial hatred, etc. (it forbids such acts), and youth protection;
- the screening of European works, for a majority of screen time, where practicable;
- the screening of cinema films (normally not until 2 years after first showing - 1 year in the case of films co-produced by the broadcaster);
- advertising standards (e.g. prohibition on the advertising of tobacco and medicines and medical treatments available only on prescription, restrictions on the advertising of certain products such as alcoholic beverages);
- advertising time (normally not more than 15% of daily transmission time and not more than 20% of any one hour period);
- advertising breaks (for example, twice during a ninety minute feature film, none during a news or current affairs programme lasting less than 30 minutes);
- programme sponsorship rules.
A Standing Committee composed of representatives of each Party is responsible for monitoring the application of this Convention. Proceedings of conciliation and arbitration are also provided for.
The Convention has been amended by the provisions contained in its Protocol (CETS No. 171) as of the day of its entry into force, on 1 March 2002.