EC: CA is indispensable but should be cross border

In a changing market, it remains essential for the roll-out of pay-TV services that conditional-access systems be protected at European level against piracy. This is the verdict of a new report published from the European Commission. Such protection is also a vital precondition for the growth of new content distribution services like video on demand, online products and mobile TV.

To boost the effectiveness of the European Directive providing this protection, the Commission is setting up a group in which government experts can exchange information and good practice, and proposes that the EU ratify the Council of Europe's European Convention on the Legal Protection of Services based on, or consisting of, Conditional Access.

The report reviews conditional access services ten years after the original directive, and the Commission says efforts to combat smart card piracy vary considerably between member states. Pay TV operators and CA vendors have contributed criticising, "overly mild penalties," and lobbying for the imposition of laws against personal possession of illegal decoders.

Meanwhile, the Commission bemoans the sluggish growth of cross-border conditional-access services on offer and intends to put together a complete picture of the potential of cross-border markets, especially as many Europeans move around the continent. "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 the Commission.

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