Pan-Euro iPlayer on cards as EBU supports EC's Digital Single Market

DetailsEditor | 07 May 2015

The European Commission (EC) has launched a new initiative aimed at providing a single digital market across the European Union, enabling current national services to be available on a regional basis.

The effects of a fully functional so-called Digital Single Market could be immense: indeed the EC calculates that it could contribute €415 billion per year to the European economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The EC says that at present, online barriers mean citizens miss out on goods and services. To address this issue, the Digital Single Market aims to remove regulatory walls and move from 28 national markets to a single one. It includes a set of targeted actions to be delivered by the end of 2016: 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.

"Today, we lay the groundwork for Europe's digital future. I want to see pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European start-ups," said EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said: I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe."

The new harmonised EU rules have a specific call to end what the EC condemns as 'unjustified' geo-blocking on contracts and consumer protection when buying online, and the EC also proposes a review of the current EU Satellite and Cable Directive to assess if its scope needs to be enlarged to broadcasters' online transmissions and to explore how to boost cross-border access to broadcasters' services in Europe. This could potentially mean that services such as the BBC iPlayer and other such online video offerings could be accessed throughout Europe and not just in their countries of origin.

The EC has also committed to review the current audiovisual media framework to 'make it fit for the 21st century', focusing on the roles of the different market players in the promotion of European works (TV broadcasters, on-demand audio-visual service providers, etc). It adds that it will look at how to adapt existing rules, such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, to new business models for content distribution.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced its support for DSM. Director general Ingrid Deltenre said that the recognition of digital content as a key factor for a Digital Single Market is crucial, reflecting the dynamic relationship between content and networks: "Citizens must be able to access content services on an affordable, universal and non-discriminatory basis," she noted. "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 ... the EBU, with its broad membership of public service media organisations across Europe, has a major part to play in realising these objectives."

The Digital Single Market will be on the agenda of the European Council meeting on 25-26 June and a dedicated project team will aim to deliver on these different actions by the end of 2016.