“EU must see bigger picture on spectrum”
January 28, 2015
By Colin Mann
Senior representatives from broadcasting, network infrastructure, trade unions and professional organisations have called on EU decision-makers to shape an ambitious industrial strategy for Europe’s creative and cultural industries.
They suggest that Europe’s unique radio and audiovisual model is a huge asset for the continent’s competitive position in the digital world, cultural diversity and media pluralism, and note that spectrum allocation is one of its key foundations for content production and distribution.
The call follows a meeting in the European Parliament involving senior representatives of the Association of European Radios (AER); the Association of Professional Wireless Production Technologies (APWPT); Broadcast Networks Europe (BNE); the European Broadcasting Union (EBU); the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and UNI MEI, which represents 170 national unions and guilds affiliating more than 375 000 creators, technicians and other workers in the media, entertainment and arts worldwide. They reminded EU policy-makers that the sector is a leader in terms of GDP and jobs as well as Europe’s greatest competitive asset in the global digital race.
The group called on policy-makers to embrace the specificities of the sector as a growth enabler and as a key component of European construction, particularly by putting forward policies that:
• Acknowledge the business, investment and funding models to ensure sustainable levels of efforts and investments by enterprises and workers in production, infrastructure and innovation;
• Uphold the importance of local / national works as supporting employment, diversity and plurality;
• Enshrine guaranteed access to critical resources such as spectrum for services that sustain Europe’s creative and cultural industry.
On spectrum, acknowledging the wisdom of the Lamy report, the Group calls for a comprehensive political approach that recognises the role of free-to-air radio, PMSE3 and Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT – where the signal is received through a TV aerial) and respects Europe’s ability to continue to create world class content. DTT and radio remain the preferred means by which EU citizens access works and in so doing sustains and finances Europe’s rich cultural diversity and media plurality.
In light of this, the group calls on European policy-makers to make every effort in 2015 to:
1. Position creative and cultural industries at the heart of Europe’s Digital Single Market strategy
2. Guide new and sustain existing investments to increase certainty for employers, employees and the public alike as well as to maintain innovation; because a strong democracy requires quality, plural and diverse content
3. Take decisions on critical resources such as spectrum allocation on the basis of a comprehensive examination of the impact on cultural and creative sector growth and jobs, particularly in forming common positions for EU and global negotiations at the WRC and RSPP
Michał Boni, Member of the European Parliament and host of the event – The Wider Spectrum – declared it was important to achieve faster and better internet access in Europe. “Spectrum allocation is crucial in that regard. Yet, it is also important that we recognise possibilities on how we can allocate frequencies for the future and good of European citizens; how to stimulate investment for more efficient technologies using less spectrum. New technologies are the key to accommodating both wireless broadband in the 700 Mhz band. We therefore need to take into account the bigger picture, the wider spectrum when we look at how to allocate frequencies for Europe. As policy-makers we need to have an approach that looks at all the moving parts, supported by a strong common vision and commitments. I believe it is possible to achieve a comprehensive compromise package which ensures a win-win solution,” he stated.
Olivier Huart, CEO of TDF, Chairman of Broadcast Networks Europe, explained that being a proponent of the saying ‘United we stand stronger’, the group was engaging with some of the most prominent organisations in the European Creative industry. “We are urging European policy makers to preserve and enhance the European audio-visual model. In this regard, the decisions on the allocation of frequencies between the audio-visual and telecommunications sectors are crucial as they impact the ability to create and deliver the contents, the plurality of the media and the economics of a sector which represents 14 million jobs and €860 billion of turnover in Europe,” he declared.
Johannes Studinger, Head of UNI-MEI, the media and entertainment sector of UNI Global Union, noted that UNI MEI represents tens of thousands of professional workers employed in the media and entertainment industries. “Growth, diversity of content and employment depend on the sustainability of the audiovisual ecosystem. DTT is a key pillar for the sustainability of growth and diversity. It provides a platform and environment, which contribute to investment in local productions by enterprise and our members, translating into quality content and employment. Regulation of radio frequencies can weaken or strengthen the balance of the ecosystem. Thus, it is not a technical issue, it is an industrial issue, it is a cultural issue. It is time for the EU to turn to an industrial strategy. We ask for a strategy that seeks to achieve a sustainable, diverse, fair and inclusive digital single market. DTT must be an integral part of this strategy,” he stated.
“We need bold and brave initiatives. We need an industrial policy for the audiovisual media sector to drive innovation, investment in content and the uptake of digital services in the EU,” said Ingrid Deltenre, Director General of the European Broadcasting Union. “This means acknowledging what is happening in the real world. DTT is the backbone of public service TV access and a pillar of the European audiovisual model. The Lamy report correctly shows that we need both broadcasting and broadband to coexist to meet different demands of the public. We cannot see our needs for UHF spectrum significantly decrease, even in the long term, and this is all the more clear with the coming of age of ultra-high definition viewing.”
Gina Nieri, Mediaset Board and Executive Committee member, stressed that the audiovisual sector was at the core of the media and cultural industry. “It deserves a strong industrial policy in order to remain competitive. In Italy, TV alone accounts for one per cent of GDP and employs around 50,000 people, along with 12,000 subcontractors and SMEs. Linear television is a key driver of audiovisual content production and distribution. DTT grants EU citizens free access to a quality universal service and plays a pivotal role in the EU audio-visual industry for the promotion of cultural diversity. The EP should call on the EC and the Member States to implement with no further delay the recommendations of the Lamy report which should constitute a common EU position in Geneva at WRC15,” she recommended.