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European Parliament OKs new portability rules with SatCab directive

The European Parliament has approved the new SatCab directive that will enable access to online TV and radio services across borders.

The passing of the directive by the parliament follows its passing of controversial new copyright legislation earlier this week that will see online platforms made liable for copyright-infringing works posted on their sites.

The EC welcomed the passing of the SatCab directive, which it described as another crucial piece of legislation to make copyright rules fit for the digital age.

The text adopted by the parliament must now be endorsed by the European Council, after which member states will have the usual two years to transpose it into national law.

“We welcome the approval of the Directive on television and radio programmes by the European Parliament. With today’s vote, we are completing the modernisation of the EU copyright rules launched in 2015 and we are getting another step closer to a fully functioning Digital Single Market,” said VP for the digital single market Andrus Ansip and digital economy and society commissioner Mariya Gabriel in a joint statement.

The pair said that the new rules “will offer better access to such programmes across the Union, for the benefit of cultural diversity. They will make it easier for European broadcasters to make large parts of their TV and radio programmes available online in all EU countries, while ensuring that creators, authors and rights holders are adequately paid for the use of their content.”

Ansip and Gabriel said that the updated directive would be “particularly relevant for the 41% of Europeans who watch TV online but also for the linguistic minorities, as well as the 20 million EU citizens who are living abroad in another EU country”.

The pair said that a succession of measures, including new portability rules that enable European subscribers to take their services to any EU state and the copyright directive, as well as the Marrakesh treaty providing better access to books for blind and visually-impaired people, would help complete the EC’s plan to update copyright legislation for the digital age.

Public broadcaster organisation the EBU gave the legislation a partial welcome but slammed the EU for failing to cover portability of non-premium on-demand services in the new rules.

“We do welcome the modernisation as a definite step in favour of European citizens and European culture, and we hope for a swift implementation, but we find it regrettable that the new legal framework still does not cover on demand services as offered by broadcasters, such as catch-up TV,” said Noel Curran, EBU director-general.

MEPs watered down EC plans to extend content portability rules in 2017 by limiting the mandating of portability in the case of free services to news and current affairs programming.