Sunday 21 July 2019

Ireland to become EU YouTube watchdog

CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), Michael O’Keeffe. Photo: David Conachy
CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), Michael O’Keeffe. Photo: David Conachy

Samantha McCaughren, Business Editor

Ireland is set to play a central role in policing material on YouTube under an updated EU directive on broadcasting. EU-wide rules, which will be finalised later this year, have been extended to cover video-sharing platforms.

YouTube owner Google has its main European operations in Dublin where it employs 7,000 people, which means that the vast role of enforcing the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMVS) EU roles will largely fall to Irish authorities.

Michael O'Keeffe, chief executive of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, would have a hugely significant role in regulating the updated rules.

"Ireland will have an important role. The European Commission will obviously be looking closely at how we implement this," said O'Keeffe.

The directive will require affected broadcasters such as YouTube to obey Ireland's interpretation of EU broadcasting rules in relation to independent production quotas, advertising, protection of minors, incitement to hatred and terrorism. On-demand services such as Netflix will also be covered by the rules.

He said that while it was not yet clear if the regulation of YouTube would fall to the BAI or another regulatory body here, the body is actively involved in discussions with the European Regulators Group and the Department of Communications.

The directive is likely to come into effect in 2020. Communications Minister Denis Naughten has indicated he will run a public consultation process on the matter.

In answer to a recent parliamentary question he said: "This public consultation will seek to gather the views of all interested parties on how we should approach the implementation of the provisions of the revised directive, including the required changes to the regulation of on-demand service providers in Ireland, and how we should approach the co-regulation of audiovisual content on video-sharing platform services."

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