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Digital Single Market proposals for broadcasters’ online programmes fully respect contractual freedom and territoriality

30 November 2016
Digital Single Market proposals for broadcasters’ online programmes fully respect contractual freedom and territoriality

Public service media (PSM) organizations need copyright licensing systems which allow them to respond to citizens’ expectations in the EU Digital Single Market. The EBU believes the European Commission’s proposal on broadcasters’ online transmissions and retransmissions will enable more PSM content to circulate online without harming the existing prerogatives of rightsholders and broadcasters.

The EBU was invited today to present its viewpoint on the European Commission’s proposal during a hearing in the European Parliament organized by the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group.

EBU Head of European Affairs Nicola Frank said: “The fact that the same current affairs programme or European-made fiction can be watched in several EU countries via satellite and cable TV but not on the Internet is an anachronism. The European Commission has made a proposal to change this situation by addressing the absence of a well-suited copyright licensing model.”

Mrs. Frank added: “The EBU would not support the Commission’s proposal if it considered that it undermines territoriality and contractual freedom. These principles, which are fundamental for Europe’s audiovisual sector, are clearly asserted in the draft legislation itself.”

“The draft Regulation is based on the licensing model for satellite and cable TV, which has functioned effectively for over 20 years without harming the prerogatives of rightsholders and broadcasters to limit the exploitation of a programme on an exclusive territorial basis if desired. It has simply made the internal market for TV a reality: around 1500 unencrypted free-to-air satellite channels and 3000 cable TV channels are available around Europe.”

Offering a wide range of programmes, PSM invest over 16 billion euros in content every year. PSM need to obtain all the necessary rights from a great variety and number of rightsholders: a major PSM organization is likely to conclude around 70000 contracts with rightsholders every year, and a single programme can involve up to 100 contributors and rightsholders.

Lack of legal certainty – stemming from the potential application of 28 national legal copyright frameworks to the same online transmission – coupled with the sheer magnitude of rights PSM organizations need to clear currently prevents most of their TV programmes from being made available online without resorting to geo-blocking.

By applying a single licensing framework, as for traditional broadcasting – based on the broadcaster’s country-of-origin – to broadcasters’ online transmissions in the EU, the model proposed by the Commission is an enabling instrument for the cross-border availability of certain online content offered by broadcasting organizations. The approach would significantly strengthen legal certainty and the efficiency of licensing for broadcaster’s online operations and ultimately support the free flow of information in Europe.

The Commission’s proposal also extends the application of the 1993 cable licensing model to IPTV services. While this is a positive start, the EBU believes that the new provisions should also cater for similar OTT and broadcasters’ catch-up services offered by cable and IPTV services to fully reflect market evolutions.

Relevant links and documents