Broadcasters may be forced to show content across the EU, not just in the country where they’re based, under draft legislation put forward in the face of strident opposition from major companies across Europe.
Online TV streaming services like Zattoo won’t be affected by the plans, according to the draft proposal obtained by EurActiv.com.
Changes to an EU broadcasting law will apply the so-called country of origin principle to broadcasters’ online catch-up offers that show content on-demand. Under current EU law, national rules apply only in the country where a broadcast signal is sent. The executive is expected to announce the change as part of an overhaul of copyright law next month.
Commercial broadcasters lobbied against the Commission’s plans to extend that to online services, arguing that the move would get rid of territorial copyright and diminish their lucrative license sales to other countries.
Earlier this summer, executives from 15 commercial TV companies, including Sky, ITV, and France’s Canal+ warned that the changes would have a “chilling effect on content investment”.
The Commission proposes that “access to or the use of an ancillary online service shall be deemed to occur solely in the member state in which the broadcasting organisation has its principal establishment, while de facto the ancillary online service can be provided across borders to other member states”.
The pay TV sector is bracing itself for another fight in Brussels when the European Commission proposes changes to EU copyright law in September.
Shows and movies can stay on broadcasters’ online services “for a defined period of time after their broadcast”. But the executive doesn’t name a set time limit in the draft proposal.
Broadcasters would still be allowed to rely on contracts that break up licences by country, making arrangements to show content in certain national markets more lucrative.
But the Commission’s competition authorities are investigating those arrangements and could still require commercial broadcasters to get rid of the contracts for specific countries. Commercial TV firms argue that will make a major dent in their business model.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, charged Sky last year for blocking shows from being shown outside the UK and Ireland.
Commercial broadcasters in France, Spain, Italy and Germany are still in the EU competition boss’ sights.
Internet companies lobbied for the law to also extend to online TV streaming services, but that has been axed from the proposal.
European Commission: draft proposal on the satellite and cable directive