EBU position on this issue

  • Maintain contractual freedom and territoriality to support the funding of European programmes
  • Support the uptake of proven copyright licensing solutions on a technologically-neutral basis
  • Make it possible for broadcasters to offer programmes across borders when desired
  • Give free-to-air broadcasters the possibility to offer content to viewers when travelling in the EU
  • Encourage collective licensing solutions when rights holders are very numerous or difficult to clearly identify
  • Protect broadcasters’ signals from piracy

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Public service media (PSM) organizations create, produce, assemble and distribute a vast amount of original programmes on a daily basis for TV, radio, linear online and on-demand services.  Our Members make an unparalleled contribution to the creative economy in Europe, with an investment of roughly 16 billion euros a year in original European content. Behind most of these programmes lie a vast number of rights and a wide variety of rights holders who are remunerated via the licensing their work.

Audiences today expect to watch or listen to content across devices (TV, radio, online). PSM have adapted to this demand by making their programmes available for live viewing, catch-up and on-demand, as well as through the traditional linear means on multiple platforms. Modern and easy rights’ clearance licensing mechanisms are crucial to enable audiences to benefit from cross-device programming in in the EU.


“We need effective licensing solutions to offer high-quality programmes on all devices. This is why we support the introduction of licensing tools which are adapted to the digital environment, like the recent EU proposal on broadcasters’ online transmissions.”


Territoriality and contractual freedom are key for the creative economy

Contractual flexibility must be maintained, as it enables rightsholders and users to negotiate how, when and where licensed content is offered, in order to best match consumer preferences. This flexibility hinges upon the possibility to exploit all types of works on a territorial basis and, as regards audiovisual programmes in particular, on an exclusive basis.

In practice, territoriality underpins the funding of European works and has a positive effect on the creative value chain and cultural diversity. By contrast, its abolition would have serious unintended consequences for audiences, limiting choice in terms of quantity and diversity. It would also tend to favour only the largest copyright users and intermediaries acting at a pan-European or global scale.

Successful licensing systems should be replicated on a technologically-neutral basis

A large number of channels are available today across borders in Europe via satellite and cable TV networks. The licensing solutions offered by the 1993 Cable and Satellite Directive have been very helpful in making this a reality. We believe that these forms of well-balanced solutions should also be available for online programmes and we therefore highly welcome the recent European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on broadcasters’ online transmissions and retransmissions of television and radio programmes.

The new system put forward by the European Commission, which is largely inspired by the existing satellite and cable system, will make it easier for broadcasters and rightsholders to negotiate licences for the cross-border use of programmes. However, both parties can still choose to only offer a programme in a single territory if desired.

The rights-clearance system established for satellite TV enables a broadcaster to obtain a licence on the basis of the law in one single country (the country where the broadcaster is established) while the satellite broadcast could be received in several countries. In parallel, the system for cable helps third parties (ie cable companies) clear underlying rights efficiently via collective licensing so that they can retransmit broadcasters’ content via their cable networks. [I1] 

Broadcasters should have the possibility to offer programmes to citizens travelling in the EU

The system introduced in the European Commission’s proposal on content portability is a step in the right direction towards making it possible for EU citizens to enjoy audiovisual programmes from back home when travelling in the Internal Market for short periods.

However this system has been designed for subscription-based audiovisual media services. PSM broadcasters, by contrast, offer free-to-air services – available without a subscription. It should nevertheless be possible for PSM broadcasters to opt-in to the EU content portability system with well-adapted ways of verifying viewers’ country of residence.

Preserve extended collective licensing systems

PSM broadcasters based in European countries which have established "extended collective licensing" (ECL) systems in their national copyright laws have in many cases been able to unlock their huge audio and audiovisual archives for viewers and listeners, or found it easier to launch new digital services.

Based on voluntary agreements between copyright users and rightholders’ representatives, such as collecting societies, the ECL system offers specific solutions for the most complex licensing cases, for example when certain rightsholders cannot be precisely identified (orphan works) or are extremely numerous.

EU legislation in the area of copyright and licensing should promote these valuables systems where they do not yet exist in the EU Member States.

Protect broadcasters' neighbouring rights worldwide

For many years, the EBU and other broadcasting unions worldwide have been advocating the need for urgent improvements to broadcasters' rights.

The need to provide broadcasters with substantial legal protection against broadcast piracy has drastically increased in the online world. The current level of protection is far from sufficient to combat modern-day piracy (above all via the internet) in an effective manner. For example, at the EU-level there is no protection of broadcasters' online signals. This harms the enormous investment that broadcasters undertake for their programming, including for major sports or cultural events, and for making that programming available to citizens in the most convenient and accessible ways.

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