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Broadcasters push back on EC copyright reform

The European Commission have released their latest proposals altering the rules governing copyright. Of chief importance to commercial broadcasters across Europe is the proposed Regulation that lays down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes (“the Regulation”).

Commercial broadcasters say they welcome the recognition of contractual freedom as a corner-stone of the European audiovisual landscape, based on cultural diversity and efficient allocation of investments and distribution of original content. ACT (Association of Commercial Broadcasters) members also welcome the Commission’s ongoing commitment to ensure that premium content can continue to be licensed on a territorial basis. Nevertheless ACT and a large swathe of the AV sector remain concerned that this Regulation, in combination with increasing restrictions to contractual freedom, may undermine financing of works to the ultimate detriment of EU consumers and cultural diversity in Europe.

Extending the Country of Origin (CoO) principle, says ACT, even when limited to certain broadcasters’ activities online, is unwelcome. None of the legal and economic evidence, commissioned by the EC itself, suggests that such an extension would be in the interests of EU consumers or Europe’s creative industries. “In fact, a majority of consulted stakeholders (Member States, right holders, authors’ societies, commercial broadcasters and online service providers) have indicated that such an extension would jeopardise investment in audiovisual works.”

“Further, the evidence shows that the Regulation may play a part in undermining territoriality and thereby affect European consumers and the AV industry in the short term (up to €9.3bn per annum) and the medium to long term (up to €4.5bn per annum). This loss is the product of less European content being produced and less access to/affordable content being available to consumers with a clear impact on cultural diversity across Europe. The current Portability proposal remains the most adapted instrument to ensure consumer benefit whilst respecting the economic fundamentals of the sector. In all other scenarios tabled in the DSM plans, consumers and industry will be worse off than in the current situation.”

“As such, there are compelling grounds for a substantial rethink to ensure investment in high quality original EU content is preserved for the benefit of European viewers and the job intensive EU audiovisual sector. The EU must champion Europe’s creative industries now, rather than making unnecessary changes that may undermine contractual freedom and damage future investments.”

“ACT members note the so-called “value gap” provisions in the proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market are a step in the right direction in order to address the responsibility of online service providers which enable access to protected works.”

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