The European Union’s Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy has occupied the minds of members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) ahead of a meeting of EU Audiovisual and Culture Ministers in Brussels this week.
In a committee opinion formulated by German MEP Petra Kammerevert, the CULT Committee members addressed issues as diverse as territoriality, release windows, cross-border access and possible reforms to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
The MEPs underlined “the importance of the territoriality principle for Europe’s film culture”, but argued that there was “no contradiction between the principle of territoriality and measures to promote portability of content.” They further advocated “that pan-European licenses should remain an option, should be introduced on a voluntary basis and preceded by a impact evaluation, and that such licensees cannot replace territoriality.”
They also called on the European Commission (EC) “to optimise media release windows to accelerate the availiblity of audiovisual content.”
Interestingly, EC Vice-President Andrus Ansip reiterated at last week’s European Film Forum in Tallinn that it was not his - or the Commission’s - place to dictate the length of media release windows, but should be left to distributors’ “entrepreneurial freedom”.
On the thorny question of copyright reform, the MEPs stressed that “any revision of copyright law should ensure adequate protection that fosters investment and growth in the creative and cultural sector, whilst removing legal uncertainties and inconsistencies that adversely affect the functioning of the Digital Single Market.”
Echoing observations made in Tallinn by David Puttnam and the BFI’s Neil Watson during the Film Forum, the CULT Committee members noted that further efforts are needed to improve media literacy “in order to achieve a true DSM in Europe and enable citizens to make full use of new digital technologies.”
Turning to the current evaluation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), the MEPs said that this legislation “should aim at incentivising investments in audiovisual content and platforms in the EU and at disseminating their content, thereby promoting accessibility of European works, in line with current copyright legislations or potential future reforms of the same.”
Since the Directive’s requirements for the promotion of European works by on-demand services had been implemented with differing rigour by the various EU Member States, the committee members called on the Commission “to strengthen Article 13 [of the AVMSD] by introducing a combination of clear requirements, including a financial contribution, and monitoring tools for the promotion of European works by on-demand services and urges the Commission to stimulate the legal offer of audiovisual media content by favouring independent European works.”
This would help to curtail the current practice of forum shopping for on-demand services.
In addition, they recommended that “legal audiovisual online offer should be developed further in order to enhance consumers’ accessibility to wide and diverse content, with various language and subtitle options.” (ends)