Must-carry on the move?

Pascale Paoli-Lebailly | 06-10-2012

The European Audiovisual Observatory has published a new report called Must-carry: Renaissance or Reformation?, which analyses the must-carry situation in Europe, in the light of the increasingly fierce fight between operators for market share in a fragmented market.
In the European context, legislators try to ensure some broadcasting space for content of general interest, usually provided for by public service channels, via so-called ‘must-carry’ legislation. Last summer in Poland new legislation made it compulsory for all networks to carry the first two public service channels and one regional public service channel.
“Must-carry aims at guaranteeing access to certain (broadcasting) networks for specified channels. The must-offer phenomenon has arisen from the idea that channels also need to make their content available to the networks, not only to make the (basic) package more diverse but also to guarantee the economic viability of certain distribution networks” the report states.
According to the Directive, must-carry regulation is “technology neutral” in that it may apply to cable, satellite, terrestrial networks and also IPTV. The report’s authors also explain that this legislation applies only to “available distribution capacity” (ie. broadcasting networks) and not to the content itself.
However, the report concludes by raising the question as to whether future legislation will cover internet-based EPGs such as smartphone apps or social network sites.