Euro broadcasters win reprieve

Threat to film and TV licensing fought off

BRUSSELS — After an intense lobbying campaign by the film and TV industries, EU members of parliament have agreed to back an exemption for the industry from the proposed services directive, which could have forced broadcasters to make their programs available across the entire 25-country bloc.

Industry representatives met with members of the Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee to discuss the directive’s implications for their business. Their views will feed into the committee’s report to the parliament before MEPs vote on it next month.

Criticism of the directive centered around its lack of understanding for the way the film and broadcast industries work. Broadcasters typically buy up program rights for specific territories within the EU, and use encryption to prevent viewers outside those areas from accessing their content. At the committee meeting, industry representatives argued that a single EU-wide market simply would not work for their sector.

Currently EU broadcast markets are regulated by the Television without Frontiers directive. This introduces minimum standards across the EU, but allows member state governments to introduce additional requirements in their home markets.

Yvon Thiec, director general of Eurocinema, the Association of Cinema and TV Producers, told Variety that the industry has long been at loggerheads with the commission’s DG Internal Market over this.

Broadcasters are also worried that if the new directive is adopted, it will bring in a “country of broadcast” licensing regime, which would mean a company would need to negotiate a separate license for every country it broadcasts to. “Any move away from the country of origin rule would be disastrous for the media sector,” said Ross Biggam, director general of ACTE, the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

New licensing rules could end the semi-automatic renewal in most member states. If commercial broadcasters can no longer work under the assumption that licenses will be renewed, this will deter longer-term investments in content and new technologies like digital television.

There are, however, no immediate concerns that the draft directive as it stands will become law. The commission has already promised a thorough revision of the original draft following a wave of criticism, with the French and German governments being especially vociferous. Even the EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie Creevey admitted to MEPs that the current draft does not have “a snowball’s chance in hell” of getting through either the Council of Ministers or the European Parliament.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • on day 3 of the London

    Barbara Broccoli, Richard Curtis Team With Passion Pictures, HTYT Films on Paralympics Documentary

    Oscar-Winning British production company Passion Pictures is teaming up with James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and filmmaker Richard Curtis on a new feature documentary about the Paralympic Games. The project, currently titled “Harder Than You Think” brings together Passion’s John Battsek with producer Greg Nugent of HTYT Films, with Broccoli and Curtis both serving as [...]

  • Tribeca Film Insitute's PitchNY Program Now

    Tribeca Film Institute's Fourth Annual PitchNY Program Kicks Off (EXCLUSIVE)

    College students and recent alumni in New York can apply to Tribeca Film Institute’s 4th annual PitchNY program, an effort to help young, diverse directors, producers and writers fine-tune their pitching skills, as well as to connect them with entertainment industry professionals who will serve as mentors. On Thursday, Tribeca Film Institute announced that applications [...]

  • La-camarista

    ‘The Chambermaid’ Cleans Up in the U.S.

    SANTIAGO, Chile — Call it the “Roma” effect but Mexican newcomer Lila Aviles’ engaging portrait of a hotel servant, “The Chambermaid” (“La Camarista”) has found outstanding reception in the U.S. and in multiple territories, giving hope to other arthouse films from Latin America and elsewhere that seek distribution in “fortress America.” “‘Roma’ was a beautiful, brawny and [...]

  • Beograd 20.03.2012 Milutin Petrovic, reditelj, scenarista,

    Lost Script by ABC Studios Editor Turned Into Movie and Series 'Bad Blood'

    An ambitious new Serbian feature film and 10-part television series set in the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century has emerged from a long lost script by a former editor at ABC Studios in New York City. Belgrade-based This and That Productions is producing “Bad Blood,” based on the works of renowned Serbian writer Borisav [...]

  • Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power,

    Gael Garcia Bernal on the Power, Responsibility of Cinema to ‘Provoke’

    Gael García Bernal said acting for the likes of Oscar winners Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón helped groom him for the director’s chair and praised cinema as “the only medium” that allows artists to “explore the gray areas” in unparalleled ways. “The world is so full of certainties now, and cinema is the one that [...]

  • Gareth Jones

    Samuel Goldwyn Films Takes North American Rights to Berlin Competition Title 'Mr Jones'

    Samuel Goldwyn Films has taken North American rights on Agnieska Holland’s “Mr. Jones,” it announced Thursday. The period thriller debuted in competition at the Berlin Film Festival in February. Set on the eve of the Second World War, “Mr. Jones” stars James Norton as the eponymous character, an ambitious young journalist who travels to Moscow [...]

  • Live Action Mulan

    China Uses Disney's 'Mulan' to Attack Hong Kong Protests

    Although Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to stop what they say is a Chinese state-backed misinformation campaign about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, similar content from suspicious accounts continues to proliferate widely, some of it co-opting Disney‘s new “Mulan“ to try to discredit the demonstrators. At the same time, China‘s government-controlled media are [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content