The European Commission has unveiled today a first set of measures to achieve the Digital Single Market policy priorities, including an action plan for copyright reform alongside a regulatory proposal on the portability of legally-obtained content.
EBU Head of European Affairs Nicola Frank said: “At first glance, there are a number of positives that we can highlight, in particular that the Commission explains that its proposals would not undermine the territorial exclusivity of licences or contractual freedom. But we are still carefully examining the latest texts by the European Commission.”
“We support the idea of portability but consider that the decision by a public service broadcaster whether or not to launch a portability service must be voluntary. We understand that the draft regulation would not put any obligation on providers of an online content service that do not have a contractual relationship with the consumer.”
“We also welcome the European Commission’s intention to review how the rules of the 1993 Satellite and Cable Directive could enhance the cross-border online distribution of television and radio programmes. It is however important that the scope of this review focuses on broadcasters’ online programmes.”
Broadcasters are in a special situation because they need to clear an exceptionally high number of rights for linear TV services broadcast on a 24/7 basis, with EBU members in the EU offering more than 10 million hours of content every year. The Satellite and Cable Directive is an established proof of the fact that cross-border access to TV and radio programmes can be achieved while maintaining contractual freedom and territoriality.
Adopted in 1993 to offer a much-needed licensing solution for cross-border television services, the Directive has successfully facilitated satellite broadcasting and the retransmission on cable networks across Europe, and significantly increased the cross-border availability of TV channels. It provides legal certainty for rights clearance for both encrypted and unencrypted satellite services.
By mid-2015, there were around 3600 various TV channels available via satellite in Europe, up to 4350 when considering the various linguistic versions of the same channels. There are around 1500 free-to-air satellite channels available in Europe without encryption, of which 100 are provided by EBU member organisations.
Cable television is now available in almost all European countries. By mid-2015, there were around 4000 TV channels broadcast over EU cable networks (including different language versions and simulcast in HD). Over a third of all TV channels in Europe are available via cable. In particular, among 38 EBU Members in the EU, 33 organizations broadcast at least one channel on another EU country’s cable network.