Blurring of transfronteir television boundaries


In today’s audiovisual world, boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred, whether they are of a geographic nature or the traditional separation between the various forms of media. In this context of increasing convergence in the European and global audiovisual sectors, there are consequences for cable and satellite broadcasting as well as on the legal instruments which regulate these activities and the implications for copyright.

The Strasbourg-based European Audiovisual Observatory has chosen to deal with this subject in its latest IRIS plus publication freely downloadable here:
Author of the article, Convergence, copyright and transfrontier television Bernt Hugenholtz of the Institute for Information Law (IViR) provides an essential analysis of the SatCab Directive, the main legal instrument regulating cable and satellite broadcasting in Europe with respect to copyright considerations affecting the actual content being beamed across the borders. A new section added to the format of this bi-monthly report – ZOOM – gives practical, industry-related information linked to the lead article. In this issue, ZOOM offers a statistical overview of international satellite broadcasting in the European Union useful in measuring the impact of certain provisions of the SatCab Directive.

The report offers a useful background to the origins of the SatCab Directive as one of the panoply of legal instruments aimed at eliminating copyright-related barriers to transfrontier broadcasting services within the EU. The author points out the innovative nature of the Directive in that it introduced a “mechanism of mandatory collective exercise of cable retransmission rights’, thus putting the management of cable rights in the hands of the collecting societies. Unwieldy, one to one negotiations with the individual rights holders were therefore avoided.

Concluding his report, the author clearly feels that the multi-territory licensing issues so crucial to the field of cable and satellite broadcasting will not be solved in the short term. The European Commission has recommended that a study on the legal, economic and cultural aspects of multi territory licensing be carried out. As for the legal instrument currently regulating copyright issues for cable and satellite broadcasting, Hugenholtz concludes that it will probably not undergo the same careful revision as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive: “More likely, it will slowly fade away, as contractual practice, technological measures, media convergence and the “horizontal’ rules of European copyright law gradually supersede it.’


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