Knowledge Vault: Public Consultations

EU Consultation: How digital is changing the audiovisual sector

Television, Broadcasting, Media, media plurality, audiovisual sector
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In so many sectors, the digital world is changing everything. Nowhere is that more true than in the audiovisual sector – like film and TV. And we’re consulting widely on what this means.

These days there is increasing convergence between what you can find online and what you get from your television. You can watch your favourite TV show from your mobile while on the train — or browse the web from the connected TV set in your living room.

This brings huge opportunities. You can choose not from a handful of channels but from literally millions of online options: what you want when you want it.  You don’t have to just tune in and passively watch: but can interact, rate, recommend to your friends; even create your own content.  In short, viewers can enjoy more choice, creativity, and convenience.  Not to mention the benefits for innovative content providers, and for our economy as a whole.

But from my perspective, there are also plenty of policy issues. Not least because historically some players (like broadcasters) have been subject to certain requirements and protections; while other newer players may not be. There’s a real question about how to ensure fair competition, especially as the line blurs between the different sectors.

That’s why we’ve launched a Green Paper on this converging audiovisual world. And last week we had a first fascinating discussion with national ministers from across the EU. I was glad that those ministers generally supported the approach of our green paper, and agreed that convergence is blurring regulatory boundaries. And our discussion was very wide-ranging: about (for instance) the spectrum trade-off between broadcasters and telecoms users; diversity, pluralism and European content; competition and interoperability in new services; protecting vulnerable users, including children; avoiding single market fragmentation; and keeping a flexible framework, including through tools short of full-scale regulation. (Also nice, by the way, to hear that at least one of those ministers is a regular reader of this blog!)

But it’s not just ministers’ views I’m interested in.  I want an open and frank debate from all parties, before technology overtakes us. And so I hope many of you will be taking part in our public consultation – available here (pdf) and open until the end of August.

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