Wider choice in online TV and radio programmes across borders

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Wider choice in online TV and radio programmes across bordersYesterday, the Legal Affairs Committee MEPs approved new rules that aim to give consumers a wider choice in online TV and radio news and current affairs programmes across borders in the EU.

It has been found that the demand for online TV and radio is growing among EU internet users, especially among younger audiences.

Therefore the new rules aim to make it easier for broadcasters to make their news and current affairs content available online in other EU countries, thus offering consumers a wider choice of programmes than at present.

The proposed regulation by the MEPs promotes the provision of more online TV and radio by addressing difficulties related to the clearance of copyright.

· broadcasters would only have to clear the rights in their own country to make available their online news and current affairs content for audiences in other EU countries too;

these programmes may include content protected by copyright which currently cannot be cleared in a short time-frame for each and every country,

· broadcasters could make news and current affairs programmes available online in other countries at the same time as their broadcast or as catch-up services, and

· operators who offer packages of channels could more easily clear the rights to programmes from other member states through collective management organisations representing right holders.

It was noted that it will however be possible for broadcasters to geo-block their online content if the right-holder and broadcaster so agree in their contracts.

MEPs highlighted that this is necessary in order to support current licensing models for the audio-visual sector and to promote cultural diversity.

Rapporteur Tiemo Wölken said, “the chance to create a European audience was missed. Conservative forces put the interests of Big Players over the interests of millions of European citizens in an irrational, unbalanced way. Under the pretext of cultural diversity European Broadcasters are refrained from adapting to the digital age.”

The mandate to start negotiations with the Council was approved by 15 votes to eight, with one abstention. The negotiations among the co-legislators can start once the plenary gives its green light.

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