• Ensure public service media is available across all relevant distribution networks
  • Preserve and modernize must-carry rules to today’s multi-platform media environment
  • Give Member States ability to apply legal provisions if any appropriate remuneration  is to be determined for must-carry rules
  • Enable National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) to apply ex-ante access obligations for audiovisual media services including related complementary services where needed
  • Ensure full alignment of EU telecoms rules with existing radio spectrum rules at EU and national level
  • Promote the interoperability of radio sets to accelerate the transition towards digital radio in Europe

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WHAT IS AT STAKE?

The way electronic communications networks and services are regulated at EU level directly impacts the availability and technical quality of media services. Public Service Media (PSM) organizations invest over 18 billion euros in content per year in Europe and need to use electronic communication networks and services to deliver audiovisual media programmes which serve the general interest. IP networks in particular are essential to reach audiences in today’s converging environment and are a natural home to innovative services.

The review of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) offers an opportunity to introduce well-calibrated updates to the regulatory toolkit EU Member States have at their disposal. A key objective is to ensure fair competition and support media pluralism and cultural diversity, by notably providing guarantees for user access to audiovisual media services of general interest via communication networks and services. It is crucial that the EECC continues supporting these policy objectives.

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“Our ambition is to enhance our relationship with EU citizens and enrich viewer experience. Public broadcasters want to ensure the best possible access to their services for audiences. We hope the revision of the current set of rules will continue to encourage media pluralism and cultural diversity whilst modernizing the rules to take account of the evolving digital landscape”

Wouter Gekiere
Deputy Head of European Affairs
 

MAINTAIN AND MODERNIZE MUST-CARRY RULES

At present, EU Member States may apply must-carry obligations where needed to ensure that electronic networks carry specific radio and television broadcast channels, in order to meet general interest objectives - in particular the promotion of media pluralism and cultural diversity. 
 
While existing must-carry rules should be preserved, the must carry provision in the EECC should be modernized to enable Member States to apply must-carry obligations to all significant providers of closed networks and services. Updated rules should also cover audiovisual media services – including linear, non-linear and complementary services (such as related applications, accessibility services and interactive functionalities), and not only linear broadcast channels.
 
The application of must-carry rules shall not prejudice the ability of Member States to determine appropriate remuneration, if any, by a legal provision. 
 

ENFORCE FAIR COMPETITION AND RESTRICT ‘GATEKEEPER POWER’ WITH EX-ANTE ACCESS RULES

Without relevant safeguards, vertically-integrated network providers would be in a position to favour their own commercial offers of content or abuse of their ‘gatekeeper power’ by imposing unreasonable access terms to competing services on their networks. Such a situation would harm citizens’ access to diverse media content, including general interest content. To counter this risk, the EECC’s ex-ante regulatory regime on access and interconnection issues gives NRAs an essential regulatory toolkit to enforce fair competition in concentrated communications markets and ensure non-discriminatory access for content providers. 
 
It should be clear in the EECC that NRAs may apply ex-ante access rules for audiovisual media services and related complementary services. NRAs also need to be able to tailor the measures they take based on a non-exhaustive list of remedies. The promotion of media pluralism should clearly figure amongst the objectives pursues by NRAs when establishing access rules.  
 

ENSURE RADIO SPECTRUM POLICY RESPECTS NATIONAL SPECIFICITIES AND NEEDS

The use of radio spectrum is managed at EU and Member State level, in accordance with national and EU law and international agreements. There is no need for substantial changes to the existing institutional framework as it facilitates coordination between Member States and harmonisation of spectrum use across the EU, while taking into account national specificities and needs. 
 
The new EECC should also ensure full alignment with the recent EU Decision on the future use of the UHF band frequencies. Broadcasters require the long-term certainty offered by the Decision regarding future access to the UHF in order to offer universal and free-to-air Digital Terrestrial Television. 
 

PROMOTE INTEROPERABLE RADIO RECEPTION TO ACCELERATE THE DIGITAL TRANSITION

In order to facilitate the digitalization of radio, the EECC should include provisions aiming to ensure that new radio sets placed on the market in the EU are capable of receiving analogue and digital radio, based on a harmonised European standard defined by a recognised body. Digital and/or analogue reception should also be activated in mobile devices, when available.
 
The transition towards digital radio is well underway in Europe. However the pace of development significantly varies from one EU Member State to another. The introduction of interoperable radio sets would allow the Member States to manage this transition at their own pace, ensure cross-border portability of devices and enable economies of scale.
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31 août 2017
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