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TVPlayer calls on government to rule on online TV carriage of channels

TVPlayerUK online TV service TVPlayer has called on the government to table a provision to enable OTT TV services to retransmit public broadcast channels. The move follows a European Court of Justice ruling that another online TV player, TVCatchUp, was in breach of copyright when it included UK public service channels in its offering without permission.

According to the European court ruling, TVCatchUp was in breach of copyright by including ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5’s services and that a previous ruling by the UK High Court in favour of the service was flawed.

According to the European Court of Justice, the EU directive covering access to cable broadcasting services by broadcasters does not cover or permit legislation that says copyright is not infringed when public service broadcast services are immediately retransmitted by cable or cable-like services, including internet services. It distinguished between broadcasters having access to cable to distribute their services and the right of cable providers to retransmit services.

TVCatchup screenshotTVCatchUp said that it regretted that “ITV…managed to persuade the EU to now rule that the delivery of content via the internet does not equate to a cable services”.

The relevant section – Section 73 – of the UK Communications Act of 2003 that allows online services to re-broadcast channels over the internet is due to be repealed later this year, and TVPlayer has called on the government to find a replacement as a matter of urgency to prevent broadcasters withholding their channels from smaller internet players.

TVPlayer, which has agreements with all the channels it carries, including ITV, Channel 4 and Five and is looking forward to concluding a deal with the BBC, said that online platforms will need to strike direct deals with broadcasters, so the government must act to ensure broadcasters do not unreasonably withhold rights from smaller platform operators.