EU Online Broadcasting Rules Face Opposition

20 April 2006

A UK alliance of broadcasting, telecoms, new media and advertising companies has voiced serious concerns at proposed European Commission internet legislation.

The alliance, led by the Broadband Stakeholder Group and high-tech trade body Intellect (whose members include including US giants Cisco Systems and Yahoo! alongside UK companies such as ITV and Vodafone), claims major changes proposed to the EC's Television Without Frontiers directive will be damaging to players in the emerging online broadcasting market.

Under the rule changes, say the lobbyists, many internet broadcasts would face the same requirements on advertising content and production quotas as traditional television.

The TVWF directive has governed broadcasting in the EU since 1989 and the extension of its remit to cover the growing 'on-demand' market would be "a disincentive to a lot of new people trying to set up new services. It also will be confusing for regulators," according to Intellect program manager Vicky Read.

Intellect's director general John Higgins adds: "We are not arguing that new 'on-demand' services should be exempt from legal standards. But this is not the most effective way either to protect consumers or to create a healthy media sector in Europe."

Moves to liberalize some advertising restrictions - in particular product placement - have been broadly welcomed. But this relaxation of the rules must be ratified by individual member states. [WAMN: 15-Dec-05].

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff