Industry trade body Pact has described plans within proposed EU legislation to create a single digital market across Europe as a “major threat” to the UK film and TV industries.
Consternation is growing among European film and TV trade bodies over details within EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger’s proposed Digital Single Market, which aims to transform the 28 markets within Europe into “a single digital union”.
The Digital Single Market, endorsed by UK business secretary Vince Cable, aims to update rules around net neutrality, roaming and copyright, but industry bodies are increasingly concerned that the new structure will dismantle the model of territoriality at the heart of international film and TV sales.
Last week, UK film and TV industry reps met with reps from the DCMS and the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) in a bid to impress on government their concerns about the reforms, which are due to be laid out by Oettinger in a strategy paper in early May and could come into effect as early as 2016.
Pact CEO John McVay said proposals to allow content to be readily available across Europe at a uniform price represented a “a major threat to our ability to sustain the world’s second most successful audiovisual economy.”
“The notion that anyone in Europe should be able to access the BBC iPlayer for free is absurd,” he added.
The Film Distributors Association CEO Mark Batey warned of a “devastating impact on cultural diversity” should the model of international sales and geoblocking be tampered with.
The British Film Institute, one of 31 European funding bodies to back a resolution against geoblocking reform, told Screen: “Some of the public statements made by the European Commission about reforming the Digital Single Market would risk undermining the existing business model for film in the UK with damaging consequences for the industry, for audiences and for cultural diversity. The BFI as lead agency for film shares these concerns.”
However, a DCMS spokesperson moved to calm industry fears, issuing the following statement to ScreenDaily: “The development of a Digital Single Market (DSM) will not be at the expense of the creative industries which make a huge contribution to the UK economy.
“We understand that many films are financed by doing exclusive deals in different countries. We have made that point in discussions with the European Commission, and we need the film industry to work with us to find solutions that work for them - and for consumers who want to pay a fair price for copyright material they may not be able to access at home.”
Pact, the FDA and COBA (The Commercial Broadcasters Association) were among six signatories of an open letter to the Daily Telegraph at the end of February warning against the proposals and bemoaning the UK government’s acquiescence with the plans.