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EC delays TV tech overhaul

Stalling due to market uncertainty

BRUSSELS — The European Commission will not overhaul broadcasting rules — dubbed television without frontiers — until late next year. The review, which was due by the end of 2002, aims to bring European Union broadcasting in line with technological developments including digital TV and pay-per-view.

Since it was last updated in 1997, the EU’s audiovisual market has not undergone the fundamental transformation expected. Slower than anticipated uptake of digital technology and the effect of the global downturn in advertising revenues have left TV broadcasters in poor shape.

This situation has convinced the EC to hold back from a radical review of the directive, leaving current laws on quotas intact. Under these, 50% or more of television programming time (excluding news and sports) must be devoted to European product.

TV industry reps welcomed the news. Assn. of Commercial Television in Europe spokeswoman Petra Wikstrom told Daily Variety, “It would be difficult and dangerous to put in place new regulations when we are so uncertain of the market’s future development.”