Blog: Going digital: helping broadcasters and viewers to enjoy more European culture

Met dank overgenomen van A. (Andrus) Ansip i, gepubliceerd op maandag 12 februari 2018.

This will be a decisive year for the Digital Single Market.

The bulk of what we have planned and proposed is now sitting on the EU's negotiating table. Now we have to get EU governments and institutions to agree.

We need things to start moving on the ground so that people feel a tangible - and digital - change for the better.

But as ever, none of this is quick or easy.

You may have noticed that I tweeted a lot over the New Year period about broadcasting, online TV and our plans for making content more available in countries across the EU.

I am aware of the complexity of this issue and the sensitivity that it creates. But no level of complexity and sensitivity can justify the amount of misrepresenting the facts I have seen.

The aim of my tweets was to debunk some of the myths that have circulated about improving cross-border access to TV programmes.

Why am I revisiting all this now?

Next week, EU institutions will open negotiations in a final stage of decision-making that - I hope - should lead to a final deal. And I want to see a good deal: for broadcasters, for creators and artists, for online users, and for European culture in general.

For a start, it has been said that the Commission wants to force broadcasters to make all their content available for free, and for everybody. This is simply untrue.

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.

It is also untrue that artists, film makers and creators will get less money.

If more viewers in more countries can see their work, that is good for their visibility and reputation. And they can earn more too.

In Europe today, 67% of films made are only shown in one country. What a sad waste of talent and creativity.

Making more audio-visual content available online in other EU countries will ease the cultural straitjacket that exists in Europe.

It makes no sense for online TV to stay locked inside national borders.

This is the digital age, where two-thirds of young people use the internet to watch TV series and films online several times per week.

So we have to respect and reflect what people want, as well as help our broadcasters. In Belgium, some French TV programmes are available via YouTube, but not on French TV's own internet platform.

How can this strengthen EU broadcasters and their online presence?

For me, the way to free up European culture is to use the principle of 'country of origin', which refers to where the broadcaster is based. This makes it far easier for a broadcaster to clear the many rights for making material available online for users in other EU countries.

Just one episode of a TV series can include up to 100 underlying rights. That is just for one country - not 28.

Today's rules are too cumbersome if we want to raise the visibility of European culture and give European creators more exposure.

We want to change rules, give broadcasters the ability to choose: this is about facilitating licensing, nothing else.

It is not free riding, it is not about reducing compensation for rights holders.

If more audience is reached, that means more payment.

I would like to double the content that is accessible online across EU countries and the borders between them.

The bottom line is that we want to stimulate cultural diversity.

We want more culture circulating around Europe.

And we want new opportunities for broadcasters, creators and the content industry. Another blog soon.