The EBU welcomes improvements which support the future of digital radio and maintain the must-carry rules, subject to some clarifications, following the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee vote on the reform of EU Telecoms rules on 4 september.
The EBU considers that maintaining must-carry rules and extending their application to connected TV services will help improve citizens' access to innovative media services. However, the EBU regrets that the opportunity to set up a fully future-proof framework for must-carry rules – based on the notion of 'audiovisual media services' rather than 'TV broadcasting' – has not been taken.
At present, EU Member States may apply must-carry obligations 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.
EBU Deputy Head of European Affairs Wouter Gekiere said: "Must-carry rules are an essential tool to guarantee citizens' access to a diverse and pluralistic offer of media services. National governments and regulators need to be able to rely on a clear-cut and future-proof EU must carry framework in order to ensure that citizens can enjoy the full range of innovative audiovisual media services such as catch-up and interactive services."
Mr. Gekiere added: "The European Parliament has taken an important step to boost the uptake of digital radio in Europe by inserting provisions to promote the interoperability of new radio sets placed on the market. Interoperable sets capable of receiving digital radio will open new opportunities for both broadcasters and audiences, just like it did for TV in the past. It should be clear however that this interoperability covers radio sets in the broader sense, including for example in-car reception."
The EU framework for electronic communications has a direct impact on the availability and quality of audiovisual media services for citizens from across Europe. It provides EU Member States with regulatory tools to promote citizens’ access to content, and to prevent distortion or restriction of competition in the electronic communications sector.
The European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee's (IMCO) vote will be followed next month by an equally important vote by the Committee for Industry, Transport, Research and Energy (ITRE).