Commercial TV welcomes EU portability
May 18, 2017
By Colin Mann
The Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) has welcomed the European Parliament’s adoption of the proposal for a regulation on cross-border portability. Once in effect, the regulation will ensure that online content service subscribers in the Union, which are delivered on a portable basis, can receive these services when temporarily present in another Member State. It nevertheless expressed concern at the SatCab (Broadcasters regulation) which it claimed would limit the possibility of these same services to invest in and acquire content.
The ACT – which represents the interests of leading commercial broadcasters in Europe – described the initiative as “a welcome step forward” as it is:
- supportive of an increasingly mobile European population within a growing and prosperous internal market for goods and services;
- a balanced outcome that allows service providers to follow clear provisions on how member state of residence is verified so as to ensure portability is not abused; and,
- based on strong authentication so as to ensure the sustainability of the audiovisual model and Europe’s world leading creative and cultural economy.
With the new measure in place, the ACT says that Europe will have addressed the vast majority of the demand for cross-border access from its citizens, which according to the Commission Impact Assessment primarily arises when consumers travel for business, leisure or education.
However, commercial broadcasters are clear that addressing small remaining pockets of demand with the proposed approach set out in the so-called Broadcasters’ regulation (Regulation 2016/0284/COD) [basically meaning content on the Internet will only need to be rights cleared in the ‘country of origin’ as if it were a satellite broadcast] will harm consumer welfare overall. This is the case because it fails to recognise the significant harm to the public interest in reducing original EU content investment that will be caused in order to deliver the very modest public benefit from satisfying residual cross border demand for content which is not met through portability. With regards to consumer benefit, the Commission itself acknowledged that a majority of European viewers could benefit from portability but have no desire to access content across borders.
“Portability will allow subscribers to enjoy their favourite services anywhere in the EU,” advised Grégoire Polad, Director General of the ACT. “However, SatCab (Broadcasters regulation) will limit the possibility of these same services to invest in and acquire content. The result could undermine portability and consumer choice and warp into an empty promise for EU viewers and a serious challenge for jobs and growth in our sector. The entire audio-visual value chain is therefore looking for the Commission to acknowledge these concerns and reconsider the Broadcasters regulation. The EU should first allow consumers to experience the benefits of portability before potentially undermining the sector.”
The message from the commercial broadcasting sector is clear: Yes, to Portability. No to the Broadcasters regulation (aka SatCab).
This in line with the commercial broadcasting community’s desire to work hand-in-hand with European legislators to deliver excellent content for European audiences, value for European content producers and future proof solutions for the European creative ecosystem.