Commercial broadcasters prepare for another fight in Brussels

Commercial broadcasters prepare for another fight in Brussels

The commercial TV sector is bracing itself for another fight with Brussels when the European Commission proposes changes to EU copyright law in September that could upend how it does business.

Commercial TV firms are worried ahead of the Commission’s controversial plans to extend EU copyright law for films or TV shows to internet on-demand services.

They argue that massive changes will snuff out broadcasters’ ability to fund new productions just as the EU executive is spearheading a parallel bill to spur investment in European films and TV shows.

“After Brexit one would have thought the European Commission would seek stability. Instead it has chosen a reckless path that will endanger jobs and growth in the audiovisual sector, limit consumer welfare and jeopardise cultural diversity,” said Grégoire Polad, director general of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

Broadcasters say the executive could wreck their business model by extending a 23-year-old broadcasting law to online services. Companies say that would force them to make their films available online around the EU—not just within the country where a broadcaster is based.

Private broadcasters have already come under fire from the executive’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who charged Sky TV’s UK operations and several Hollywood studios last year for blocking films being shown outside the UK and Ireland.

Separate complaints have been filed against private broadcasters in other EU countries for blocking access because of copyright restrictions.

Executives from fifteen commercial TV firms including NBC Universal, ITV, France’s Canal+ and Viacom are lobbying to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker before the executive proposes a copyright overhaul on 21 September.

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