The European Commission detailed plans to create a Digital Single Market (DSM) have been welcomed by such leading industry bodies as the EBU and Cable Europe.
One of the EC’s top priorities and having the potential to contribute €415 billion to the economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, the DSM includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of 2016.
The strategy is built on three pillars, namely better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe; creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to flourish; and maximising the growth potential of the digital economy.
Among the issues to be addressed in the DSM is unjustified geo-blocking. It says that, “one of the aims of the copyright modernisation is to facilitate the licensing of rights for online distribution of audiovisual content. Being able to legally access content online cross-border will help deal with geo-blocking concerns, while respecting the value of rights in the audiovisual sector. The financing of the audiovisual sector widely relies on a system based on territorial exclusivity, which as such cannot be considered as unjustified geo-blocking”.
Copyright modernisation will include the portability of legally acquitted content; better access to online services from other EU Member States; harmonising exceptions for important activities; clarifying the rules of use of copyright-protected content; and modernizing the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The EC will review the 1993 Satellite and Cable Directive and look into the possible extension of its scope to certain broadcasters’ online services.
It is also putting forward various plans and instruments to stimulate investment in the telecoms sector and develop the roll out of broadband.
It will propose a review of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive focusing on issues such as the roles and responsibilities of all market players, measures for the promotion of European works, advertising and protection of minors.
The EC will in addition continue to review the increasing use of on demand services.
The EBU has welcomed the European Commission’s strategy to create a DSM between European Union member states.
Its DG Ingrid Deltenre said: “Citizens must be able to access content services on an affordable, universal and non-discriminatory basis. Audiovisual and content services should drive demand and digital innovation, nourish the EU’s cultural and creative industries and, in turn, build audiences for high quality and original programming.
“I also believe that the EBU, with its broad membership of public service media organisations across Europe, has a major part to play in realising these objectives.”
Meanwhile, Matthias Kurth, executive chairman of Cable Europe, said: “It is now imperative that the detail is right; that we work together towards a future proof plan which recognises a mix of technologies, keeps a technology neutral approach, and does not stifle innovation and investment. As a major enabler of European broadband, the cable industry welcomes the opportunity to work with the Commission and other stakeholders as the Strategy is implemented”.
Meanwhile, Martyn Whistler, EY’s lead media & entertainment analyst, said: “We know audiences want to access their content wherever and whenever they want. Being constrained by national borders is something audiences find increasingly frustrating so today’s announcement by the EU will be welcomed by European consumers. From an industry perspective, although the impact upon catch-up services are grabbing the headlines, what is actually more interesting is any changes around subscription media services as it will alter how rights are sold. Expect to see a shift towards pan-European media players who can bring scale to the negotiating table when buying programming rights.”