Commercial TV welcomes European Parliament vote on Audiovisual Convergence

Brussels, 12 March 2014 – European commercial broadcasters view EP vote as important signal; need for long-term thinking to sustain excellence and innovation in the audiovisual sector.

The European Parliament has today adopted a Resolution on Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World, based on a committee report drafted by Sabine Verheyen MEP. This complements an earlier report by Petra Kammerevert MEP on Connected Television.

ACT member companies are enthusiastically embracing the commercial opportunities created by convergence, and the off and online offers of audiovisual services are booming: with 3.000 on demand services and 10.000 TV channels in Europe. Yet despite all the new online choice, viewing of scheduled television remains at an all-time high of 235 minutes per day.

Speaking about the ACT position, Ross Biggam, Director-General of the Association of Commercial Television, commented that:

“Media convergence is now a reality. Yet the long-term implications for business, consumers and regulators remain unclear. So this is not the time for knee-jerk regulatory change. Rather, we have previously called on the European Commission to work on long-term scenario planning for the future of the European audiovisual sector. The emphasis in the Parliament’s report on “preparing” for full convergence is exactly right. Parliament is also correct to focus on how the future sustainability of European content can be assured. The strength of commercial broadcasters lays in the high-quality programming that the audiences love to watch. And ACT members invest heavily into content, 40% of their revenues, to deliver great choice of content on our consumers’ screens. Therefore, the sustainability of the current financing models for content production must be at the heart of the Commission’s debate, not regulation per se.”

The ACT emphasises that any rethink of EU-level content regulation should be based on principles rather than on micro-management and should examine how to best deliver the policy goals, including via self-regulation. These key principles will include: contractual freedom, country of origin for transfrontier television, signal integrity (necessary for sustaining editorial responsibility), commercial overlays and other novel techniques should be possible only with the prior consent of the broadcaster, high level protection of minors, the principle of editorial responsibility and ethical rules on commercial communication. Any future content regulation must preserve the core elements of the current AVMS – notably on jurisdiction and platform neutrality – that underpin Europe’s thriving audiovisual market.