Berlin: MPAA Stands By Europe’s Industries on Digital Single Market

‘One size doesn’t fit all’ in Europe, MPAA chairman-CEO Christopher Dodd says an Berlin

Christopher Dodd, MPAA chairman.CEO
Courtesy: MPA

BERLIN – The Motion Picture Association of America is standing by European movie-TV industries’ strong concerns to a Digital Single Market, Christopher Dodd, MPAA chairman-CEO said Monday in Berlin.

“One size sometimes does not fit all,” he added, describing conversations between European and global industry reps as “moving in a good direction” but still requiring caution, and underscoring how MPAA members form an integral part of Europe’s film and TV industries in production and distribution. One example: Til Schweiger’s “Head Full of Honey,” which grossed $62.5 million in Germany last year, was co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros.

Announced May 6 on the cusp of Cannes Festival, the Digital Single Market was met with full-frontal opposition by Europe’s movie-TV content industry that viewed it as a threat to territory-by-territory licensing of movies and TV shows. That would come via the DSM’s support for cross-border access, whereby people in the E.U. would be free to buy content situated on other countries’ digital platforms.

“Historically, the U.S. and Europe have always been at odds on various issues from time to time. This is an example where we are in total synch,” Dodd told Variety at the Berlin Festival.

“We’re here to support our European colleagues, European producers and directors involved in the production of TV and film. They are leading discussions. We are just playing a supportive role. This is not a U.S.-led effort. This is a European-led effort,” Dodd said. “We genuinely feel that the market place is the best place to determine relationships. The European market is a highly diverse, complicated market.”

On Dec. 9, the European Commission announced “portability” draft regulation, which allows Europeans to travel in the E.U. and still access on a temporary base home-territory-bought online content. Some of that of course would be Hollywood content, such as favorite TV shows. In line with global and independent producers assns., such as, respectively, Fiapf and IFTA, Dodd said the MPAA agreed with portability, but would like it to be subject to more robust clarity – on what “temporary” means and authentication of users.

But the financing of product in Europe and territory-by-territory licensing contracts provide upfront funding for production in Europe. Prescribed full cross-border access under Digital Single Market plans would have a “direct economic impact” on such licensing, Dodd argued. “Right now we believe the consumer is better served if producers can develop programming tailored to a market and there are differences between the 28 countries in the European Union,” he said.

Dodd will deliver a key speech Monday afternoon at a Digital Single Market panel. Gunther Oettinger (pictured), the European Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, signaled May 17 at the Cannes Festival that certain sectors of “sensitivity” such as movies and TV, could be exempted from copyright provisions such as total cross-border access informing the Commission’s plans for a Digital Single Market. Law firm Greenberg Traurig had hoped Oettinger would deliver a key speech Monday afternoon on the Digital Single Market, however Oettinger was caught up celebrating the European Media Program’s 25th anniversary. Clarity on the commisison’s DSM plans will have to wait.

The Berlin panel’s audience will be keen to see if or how Oettinger repeats the idea of a carve-out for film-TV, and then discuss whether this is real pullback or not.