Online radio and news broadcasts: Parliament and Council reach deal

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


EP negotiators agreed on Thursday with Council on new rules facilitating online broadcasting of current affairs and radio programmes across the EU.

The agreement includes mechanisms to facilitate the clearance of copyright and related rights of radio and TV content for cross-border digital broadcast and retransmissions. The new rules should provide for a wider distribution of news and current affairs programmes and promote access to information.
Copyright clearance
According to the new rules, broadcasting organisations that want to transmit their services cross-border would need to clear copyright and related rights only in their EU country of establishment (known as the “country of origin” principle). Currently, this needs to be done for each member state of broadcast.
Parliament and Council agreed that these rules will only apply to radio or TV news and current affairs programmes, fully financed own productions of the broadcasting organisations, meaning broadcasters could make their content available online in other countries at the same time as their broadcast or as catch-up services. Sport events are excluded.
Quote
“Given very different positions of both co-legislators at the beginning, it is definitely positive that today, both co-legislators, managed to find a compromise wording and were able to reach a basic agreement on political level. Parliament had a clear priority to defend the principle of territoriality which in our view is still very important and needs to be implemented” said Legal Affairs committee rapporteur Pavel Svoboda (EPP, CZ).

Next steps
Council, the Legal Affairs Committee and the full House will have to formally endorse the agreement before it enters into force.
Background
In 1993, the Satellite and Cable Directive (usually referred as the SatCab Directive) was introduced to facilitate cross-border broadcasting services by satellite and cable retransmission of programmes within the EU. This legislation harmonises national provisions concerning the right of communication to the public by satellite and the right of retransmission by cable. However, broadcasters face practical difficulties with the acquisition of rights for cross-border online services, which are more and more in demand, especially among young audiences.
Due to the principle of territoriality, broadcasters transmitting online TV and radio programmes need to clear the rights for the relevant territories in order to make their services available across borders. This process is complex and costly, as authorisation needs to be obtained from a multitude of rightsholders quickly. As a result, broadcasters often make their content available in a single member state and put geo-blocking measures in place.

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