Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner responsible for industrial affairs, information technologies and telecommunications, has welcomed the adoption of the new television standards Directive as a major breakthrough on the road to building the Information Society. The Directive, adopted by the Council of Ministers of 24 July 1995, creates a regulatory framework of standards for the transmission of advanced television signals. It recognizes that standards are an important element in establishing market confidence both on the part of market players and on the part of consumers, but at the same time enables the widest range of advanced TV services to be offered as the market develops. It does not target the introduction of particular services and technologies, preferring a studied neutrality across the board. Pay television is the fastest growing area of broadcasting and is expected to flower in the digital era. Indeed it is likely that the pioneering digital television services will be launched by pay-TV broadcasters. This will require the wide-spread use of systems to scramble and descramble signals on a selective basis (ie. for paying customers only) - otherwise known as conditional access systems. Conditional access is an important issue for the broadcasting industry because it allows control of access to services. The TV Standards Directive creates a common regulatory framework for conditional access to digital television services and, at a practical level, should make it possible for consumers to receive all digital TV services through one decoder box, rather than a number of different, incompatible boxes belonging to competing broadcasters. It, moreover, makes it obligatory for manufacturers to incorporate an open interface socket (for the connection of digital TV decoders/conditional access systems) on all television sets with screens larger than 42cms. Although this is already being done to a large extent, the intention is to guarantee that all EU citizens investing in new equipment will be able to have easy access to digital TV services. With regard to wide-screen television, the Directive ensures that cable TV operators in the European Union will deliver wide-screen services, as broadcast, in the 16:9 format. This offers an important encouragement to consumers investing in the new 16:9 wide-screen sets. It is hoped that the adoption of this Directive, based on lengthy consultation with broadcasters, manufacturers and other players, will provide the necessary regulatory conditions for the rapid development of advanced television services in Europe.