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Pan European access to catch-up services like BBC iPlayer will stifle creativity

Mandating pan-EU access to catch-up services including the BBC’s iPlayer and Sky’s Now TV would be counter-productive and stifle creativity in the future, Adam Rendle of law firm Taylor Wessing has warned.

Earlier today, as part of the launch of the Digital Single Market plan, the European Commission disclosed its plans to introduce new rules that would see such services have to enlarge their transmissions to continental Europe.

But Rendle, who is a senior associate in the Media & Entertainment group at Taylor Wessing, believes such a move is a mistake.

He said: “[To] interfere with the business interests that have led to territorial licensing…so the impact such a reform would have should be properly considered.

“According to the Commission, one thing standing in the way of achieving a DSM for content is territorial licensing and geoblocking.

“The Commission wants to clamp down on use of such technology. It has not, however, specified how this would be done.”

At present the BBC’s iPlayer is not available outside the UK but, following the Commission’s logic, it is likely that it would be made available across the EU in the same way as it is available in the UK.

However with British TV viewers currently paying a licence fee for the service Rendle questions the fairness of the move.

He said: “Should this mean that UK licence fee payers should be subsidising access to BBC content for residents in the other 27 member states, who do not pay the licence fee?

“Mandating pan-EU access would interfere with the business interests that have led to territorial licensing and geo-blocking, so the impact such a reform would have should be properly considered; it would be counter-productive to introduce a reform which would make it more difficult to finance creativity in the future.”

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