European Commission vice-president Andrus Ansip has reiterated a call for the ‘country of origin’ principle to be extended to enable content portability across the European Single Market, despite moves by the European Parliament to exempt the bulk of media content from new digital single market rules.
In a blog posting ahead of the opening of negotiations between EU institutions on new rules for cross-border online trading next week, Ansip condemned “misrepresenting” of facts on content portability. He said that it was “simply untrue” that the EC wanted to “force broadcasters to make all their content available for free”.
“What we do want is to make it easier for broadcasters to license material and promote their programmes around the EU. They can choose what they make available online, and where they do it. But there is no obligation to do this,” he said.
Ansip also said that it was “untrue that artists, film makers and creators will get less money” if content portability rules are introduced, arguing that making content more widely available would enable content creators to earn more. He cited the statistic that 67% of films made in Europe today are shown only in one country and asserted that “making more audio-visual content available online in other EU countries will ease the cultural straitjacket that exists in Europe”.
Ansip said that it “makes no sense” for online TV “to stay locked inside national borders”.
He said that the extension of the country of origin principle would make it easier for broadcaster to clear the rights needed to make their content available for users in other European countries.
Ansip said that his goal was to “double the content that is accessible online across EU countries and the borders between them”.
His intervention follows the European Parliament’s decision to water down proposed rules on content portability to cover news and current affairs programming only. The EC wants to see a much wider application of content portability, with all non-premium content distributed online having the potential to be made available across national boundaries.
The proposals have proved divisive within the content community. Content rights-holders and commercial broadcasters have strongly opposed the measures, while public broadcasters have been equally vociferous in their support.