EU to consider plan to block TV signals

Companies, advertisers up in arms over proposal

BRUSSELS — European Union TV companies and advertisers are up in arms about plans for a pan-European television convention, which they believe will restrict their freedom to broadcast programs and ads in non-EU states.

The draft European convention will be considering a plan to allow non-EU countries to block programs put out by broadcasters within the EU, in effect dropping one of the key clauses of the EU’s 1989 Television Without Frontiers directive, which established the ‘country of origin’ principle, according to which a broadcast is legal in the country in which it is transmitted so long as it is legal in the state of origin.

“The proposed amendments would severely move the European media scene back from the modern open skies thinking, based upon country of origin principles and mutual recognition,” said Stig Carlson, director general of the European Assn. of Advertising Agencies (EAAA).

“The amendment would also set a grave precedent for impeding free trade in the emerging and converging markets for digitally based interactive television, and other new electronic services in Europe,” Carlson said.

The draft convention would not effect intra-EU broadcasts, but would apply to broadcasts from within the EU to other signatory countries, such as Poland, Hungary, Malta, Turkey and Slovakia.

Industry lobbying on European governments is likely to be intense in the coming weeks, as a decision is due to be taken on the final form of the convention when government representatives meet on April 7.

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