EC looks to break down TV borders

The European Commission has criticised the sluggish growth in cross-border conditional access services. The Commission is planning to put together a picture of potential cross-border markets and has highlighted the movement around the continent by many Europeans.

“As millions of people in Europe live away from their country of origin and want to access services from ‘back home’, but often cannot, the Commission will be gathering more information on potential markets for the distribution of TV programmes and films beyond national borders,” said a statement from the Commission.

The availability of pay-TV services in markets outside their primary area has become a bone of contention among foreign nationals as demonstrated by recent raids on Spanish systems relaying English language programmes. Canal+ France has also sought to restore services to viewers in French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland.

In a report reviewing conditional access services ten years after Directive 98/84/EC, the Commission says efforts to combat smart card piracy vary considerably between member states. In response to the Commission’s consultation industry players referred to “overly mild penalties” and said penalties for the possession of illegal decoders should be considered.

The Commission is establishing a working group to discuss best practice at national level.