Commercial broadcasters respond to the Commission Green Paper on audiovisual works

Brussels, 21 November 2011 – Today the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) has submitted its response to the Commission’s consultation on the Green Paper on Audiovisual Works.

Commenting on the consultation Philippe Delusinne, ACT President & CEO RTL Belgium, said: “We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the discussions about the future of our sector. There is common ground between the EU Commission and the broadcasting business that the sector is undergoing a series of radical changes, affecting business models, consumer services and regulatory options. As a starting point I would like to state that our sector is in good shape and viewers enjoy watching our content, on a growing number of screens and devices. However, anything we do and offer is only possible as long as it is underpinned by a robust copyright system“.

The European TV business is a €84.4 billion sector and up to 50% of commercial broadcasters´ revenues are reinvested in content.

Ross Biggam, ACT Director General, added: “Copyright is the foundation stone not just of the European TV industry but the European creative industries as a whole. The fight against illegal distribution of content is therefore crucial to us as well as flexibility and choice in our copyright negotiations with various stakeholders involved in the creation, distribution and marketing of an audiovisual programme“.

The ACT has made the following comments in its submission to the EU Commission:

Copyright reform

  • ACT members welcome the Commission’s distinction between different kinds of content, e.g. music and audiovisual. TV is strongly influenced by language, humour, culture and national and local events. Therefore, reference should not be made only to “the digital single market” but also to a series of such markets.
  • As all audiovisual content is already produced digitally and distributed across a range of platforms, it is perhaps limiting to look at online distribution only. The policy imperative here should be about availability of programme content to consumers, rather than the devices or platforms via which they are available.
  • Before introducing a harmonised Copyright Title, or an optional Code , the Commission needs to carry out a robust impact assessment.
  • There is a need to differentiate between rights acquisition and rights clearance/management. While rights acquisition relates to the process of buying the rights to show a programme; rights clearance/management refers to the clearing processes undertaken when broadcasting the content.
  • The ACT calls on the Commission to respect contractual freedom. Territoriality and exclusivity are the cornerstones of the broadcast industry. The possibility to offer content only in those markets where there is a clear, monetisable demand for it allows consumers in particular in smaller markets to access a varied range of content. Yet, there are no legal barriers to buying and selling audiovisual productions on a multi-territory basis.
    More content is crossing European borders than ever before. In particular in genres such as sports, news, entertainment shows and dramas, commercial broadcasters are increasingly offering their content on a multi-territorial basis where consumers ask for it and they see an economic feasibility. We therefore see no need for regulatory intervention at this stage.

Release windows

  • For film financing and distribution, release windows are still relevant and encourage innovation and consumer choice by implying a degree of competition between different windows. Moreover, release windows are evolving rapidly as content creators and distributors respond to new opportunities and patterns of consumer demand.
  • Concerning authors and performers’ remuneration the ACT is not aware of any specific market failure in this area. Any introduction of a new system would run the risk of introducing new barriers rather than facilitating the clearance of rights.

Cable and Satellite Directive

  • The ACT believes that the Cable and Satellite Directive should not be re-opened at this stage.