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The media environment is undergoing a major transformation as a result of technological innovations. The amplification of content availability options is matched by changes in the behavior of media users. However, new possibilities and new phenomena bring new challenges and pose new questions. Many of the latter cannot be dealt with by legislation and require a search for alternative approaches and a reflection on the responsibilities of the individual links in the media chain. The Czech Presidency is ready to continue the work on improving general awareness of issues relating to the legal offer of services, to piracy and to the understanding of the advertising message of commercial communications. In the view of the Presidency, an important tool for implementing these objectives both at the level of the EU and the Member States, and of the participating parties is raising awareness.

Currently, a major task for the Member States is the transposition of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive. The directive stipulates a number of new principles and obligations for the MS and the EC. One new element is product placement regulation, and since there has been a diversity of opinion among MS on how to approach the relevant provision, this appears to be a very timely theme. The time when regulatory approach options are being discussed is the right time to discuss, also, the way of making the public acquainted with this new type of regulated commercial message, of explaining it and teaching the public to understand it. In this context, the directive stipulates the obligation of Member States to observe the level of media literacy; it has therefore been considered useful to find the connecting link between the relevant provisions of the directive.

The directive also creates space for the application of co-regulatory and self-regulatory mechanisms; the following initiatives in this field could then utilize an exchange of experience among Member States. We would therefore like to use this forum for the presentation of specific options offered by such mechanisms and for the demonstration of good practices and of undergoing projects to show where, concretely, inspiration may be found and cooperation developed.

Following directly from documents adopted during the last year by the Council and the European Commission there is, also, an evident need to enhance public awareness of copyright issues, issues relating to the legal use of works and to piracy. The most promising way of countering theft of protected cultural content in the digital environment and simultaneously developing a broad legal offer of such content is, in our view, effective practical cooperation of all interested parties, i.e. those who create the cultural content and those who bring it to the end users. The legal nature of the offer of cultural content, based on whatever kind of business model, is, of course, subject to appropriate legal awareness on the part of the users. It is therefore in the best interest of all stakeholders to systematically enhance such public awareness.

The Czech Presidency is thus following up immediately the pledge made at the November meeting of the EYC Council – Council conclusions on developing creative content available online and preventing and combating piracy. Our intention complies with the appeal to the Member States to cooperate with the aim of finding specific and effective solutions leading to the development of legal offer, prevention of piracy, and application of tested procedures during the implementation of the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

As a concrete result of complying with the Council conclusions of 21 May 2008 on a European approach to media literacy in the digital environment and in accordance with the Commission Communication on a European approach to media literacy in the digital environment of 2008, the Presidency proposes a debate on specific educational projects and connected issues relating to the frequently discussed problems of piracy and of understanding the advertising message of commercial communications. We believe that these aspects should be judged both from the point of view of the content providers, and of the users, since the responsibility of one party is related to the conduct of the other. When considering steps to enhance media literacy it is therefore necessary to take into account also the responsibility of service providers and their role in media processes.

The aim of the conference is to demonstrate possible approaches to the issue of media literacy, thus possibly stimulating initiatives at national level. The conference should also promote reflection on further steps to be taken at EU level.