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Italy: New Legislation Regulating the Audiovisual Sector

(Jan. 26, 2018) On December 28, 2017, three new Legislative Decrees (L.D.s) regulating the film and audiovisual sector were published in Italy, with an effective date of December 1, 2018. (L.D. No. 202 of December 7, 2017, Provisions on Employment in the Film and Audiovisual Sector; L.D. No. 203 of December 7, 2017, Reform of Legislation on the Protection of Minors in the Film and Audiovisual Sector; and L.D. No. 204 of December 7, 2017, Reform of Legislation on the Promotion of European and Italian Works by Providers of Film and Audivisual Works, all published in GAZZETTA UFFICIALE [OFFICIAL GAZETTE, G.U.] (Dec. 28, 2017), Normattiva website (in Italian).)

L.D. No. 202

L.D. No. 202 amends existing labor legislation that permits companies in particular fields to hire temporary workers. (L.D. No. 81 of June 15, 2015, Organic Statute of Employment Contracts and Provisions in the Area of Job Duties According to Article 1, ¶ 7 of Law No. 183 of December 10, 2014, art. 23, ¶ 2(d), G.U. June 24, 2015, Ministry of Labor and Social Policies website (in Italian).) The amendment adds fixed-term employment contracts for the production of specific audiovisual works to the fields covered (L.D. No. 202, art. 1(1)) and also adds the movie and audiovisual sectors to the definition of seasonal employment that may include fixed-term apprenticeship contracts in accordance with national collective-bargaining agreements (id. art. 2(1)). The new legislation also directs the government to issue regulations establishing valid criteria defining a uniform classification for the artistic and technical professions in the film and audiovisual sectors. (Id. art. 3(1).)

L.D. No. 203

L.D. No. 203 seeks to organize and harmonize legislation regarding the protection of minors participating in cinematographic and audiovisual works. (L.D. No. 203, art. 1(1).) The classification of cinematographic works seeks to balance the protection of minors and infants against freedom of thought and artistic expression. (Id. art. 2(1) & (2).)  Hence, the law classifies works in four categories: (a) open to all; (b) forbidden to persons six years of age or younger; (c) forbidden to persons 14 years of age or younger; and (d) forbidden to persons 18 years of age or younger, unless they are accompanied by their parents, as permitted by the law. (Id. art. 2(2).) The law creates the Commission for the Classification of Cinematographic Works under the National Directorate for Cinema and establishes the procedure for the issuance of a classification for a proposed cinematographic work. (Id. arts. 3(1) & 4).)

L.D. No. 203 also

  • requires that the original version of foreign cinematographic works be submitted to the Commission along with a dubbed version subtitled in Italian, and that the submitter submit a declaration attesting that the dubbed version conforms to the original (id. art. 5(1));
  • provides specific rules to regulate the classification of works projected exclusively during cinematographic festivals, commercials to be shown in movie theaters, and works to promote other cinematographic works (id. arts. 5(2) & 6);
  • requires that the classification of a cinematographic work be visible to the public in all advertising materials; in particular, when the work has been classified as not appropriate for minors, the operator of the movie theater must provide notice to the public in a clear manner, and physically when appropriate, to prevent minors from entering the room if they are not accompanied by one of the persons indicated in the law (id. arts. 7(1) & 8(1));
  • prohibits the simultaneous projection of cinematographic works forbidden to minors with other permitted works (id. art. 8(2));
  • establishes monetary administrative penalties and other accessory penalties (e.g., closing of cinematographic facilities) in case of infractions (id. art. 9);
  • mandates that the government also enact regulations for the classification of audiovisual works destined for the internet and of video games, with a particular aim to protect minors (id. art. 10(1)).

L.D. No. 204

L.D. No. 204 reinforces the general aim of Italian legislation applicable to cinematographic and audiovisual works, which is to promote the production and dissemination of European and independent audiovisual media works. (L.D. No. 204, art. 2(1).) This legislation redefines the existing definition of “independent producer” to include “operators” of European cinematographic and audiovisual works that perform their own audiovisual production activities and are not controlled by, or otherwise connected to, providers of audiovisual media services subject to Italian jurisdiction, or that within a three-year period do not transfer more than 90% of their own production to only one such provider, or who hold secondary titles to audiovisual works. (Id. art. 1(1).)

The law raises to 53% the minimum percentage of European content of audiovisual works that must be produced or disseminated in Italy in 2019; 56% in 2010; and 60% from 2021 onward. (Id.) Additionally, a mandatory quota of audiovisual works and programming in the Italian language is established for dissemination in any broadcasting venues in Italy daily between the hours of 6:00 pm and 11:00 pm. (Id. art. 2(3).) The law sets further minimum quotas on the acquisition or production of independent European producers’ works for providers of audiovisual media services other than concessionaires of public radio, television, and multimedia services intended for broadcast in Italy. (Id. art. 2(4).) Finally, the law increases monetary penalties to up to €5 million (about US$6.2 million) for violations of its core provisions. (Id. art. 3.)