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 19.5 billion euros in content per year in Europe and need to use electronic communication networks and services to deliver radio and audiovisual media programmes which serve the general interest. Although traditional broadcast remains key to universal delivery of PSM content and services, online networks are essential to reach audiences in today’s converging environment and are a natural home to innovative services.
The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) introduces an updated regulatory toolkit that EU Member States have at their disposal. EECC addresses issues such as must-carry obligations, ex-ante access rules, interoperability of TV and Radio reception equipment and radio spectrum management, all of which have direct impact on the availability and quality of radio and audiovisual media services for citizens.
The key objectives in implementing the EECC are to ensure fair competition, media pluralism and cultural diversity. Rules which ensure access to the network and must-carry rules ultimately guarantee user access to radio and audiovisual services.
Adopt up-to-date 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 to meet general interest objectives, in particular the promotion of media pluralism and cultural diversity.
The EECC improves the existing EU must-carry rules. It enables the extension of national must-carry obligations to data supporting connected TV services and EPGs (Electronic Programme Guides); this extension reflects evolving audience habits and the full range of innovative services on offer. It also allows for the imposition of obligations, on providers of both electronic communications networks and electronic communications services. The EBU calls on national decision-makers to adapt national must-carry rules to guarantee that PSM offers are available on all relevant networks and service offers.
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
Without relevant safeguards, vertically-integrated network providers would be in a position to favour their own commercial offers of content or abuse their ‘gatekeeping power’ by imposing unreasonable access terms on 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 National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) an essential regulatory toolkit to enforce fair competition in concentrated communications markets and ensure non-discriminatory access for content providers.
According to the EECC, NRAs may not only apply ex-ante access rules ensuring that citizens can access radio and TV broadcast services but also related complementary services. In assessing the possibility to apply access obligations, NRAs need to take due account of whether the obligations concerned contribute to promoting media pluralism, cultural diversity and freedom of expression.
Promote interoperable radio reception and the uptake of digital radio
Radio is widely accessed by listeners across Europe. On average, 85% of European citizens listen to the radio every week. This capability must be retained in the digital era. Radio is an important medium through which citizens access a diverse range of information, news and entertainment - often with a regional and local focus.
The EECC introduces provisions to ensure that radio sets in new passenger cars for the EU are capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio from 21 December 2020 onwards. In 2017, just 33% of all registered cars - around 5 million cars - were equipped with digital radio. The implementation of the EECC will ensure European citizens have access to stable, secure and subscription-free radio reception when they are on the move.
The transition towards digital radio is well underway in Europe. The pace of development however significantly varies from one EU Member State to another. Measures to promote interoperable radio sets such as the ones for in-car reception will allow the Member States to manage this transition at their own pace, ensure cross-border portability of devices and enable economies of scale.
The EBU, EDRA and WorldDAB ask the EU Insititutions to introduce specific provisions to promote the interoperability of radio reception devices in the final text of the EU Electornic Communications Code.
EBU amendments on the European Commission proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Code
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU)1 welcomes the publication of the Commission proposal for a Directive establishing the European Electronic Communications Code2 as a good basis for the development of a modern and future-proof EU regulatory framework.
The EBU Reply to the EC consultation on the evaluation and the review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services
ACCESS TO INFORMATION IN A CONVERGED MEDIA ENVIRONMENT EBU Contribution to the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Media and Information Society (Belgrade, 7 and 8 November 2013)
EBU reply to the European Commission Green Paper - Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values