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  • More easily available radio and TV programmes related to news and current affairs  
  • Copyright clearance facilitated for broadcasters  

Plenary approved on Thursday the new rules facilitating online broadcasting of current affairs and radio programmes across the EU.

The directive includes mechanisms to facilitate the clearance of copyright and related rights of radio and TV content for cross-border digital broadcast and retransmissions. The new rules should provide for a wider distribution of news and current affairs programmes and promote access to information.


Copyright clearance


According to the new rules, broadcasting organisations that want to transmit their services cross-border would need to clear copyright and related rights only in their EU country of establishment (known as the “country of origin” principle). Currently, this needs to be done for each member state of broadcast.


The new rules will only apply to radio or TV news and current affairs programmes, fully financed own productions of the broadcasting organisations, meaning broadcasters could make their content available online in other EU countries at the same time as their broadcast or as catch-up services. Sport events are excluded. The Commission will review the need to extend this coverage six years after the entry into force of the directive.


Direct injection


The text clarifies the legal status of the so-called transmission through "direct injection" technique, i.e. when a broadcasting organisation transmits their programme-carrying signals only to signal distributors in a way that these signals are not accessible to the public during the transmission. In such a case, only a single act of communication to the public is deemed to occur. This aims to enhance protection of right holders, and increase legal certainty for broadcasters and distributers involved in the process.


Quote


We have to do everything to ensure diversity of European culture and to give European authors and broadcasters adequate conditions for their operations, while ensuring a secure environment for digital enterprises”, said the rapporteur Pavel Svoboda (EPP, CZ) during the plenary debate. “This directive contributes towards the completion of the Digital Single Market strategy and we will see in the future whether this legislation can be further extended,” he concluded.



Next steps


The legislation was adopted with 460 votes to 53 and 8 abstentions. It now requires a final adoption by Council, before its publication in the EU Official Journal. 




Background


In 1993, the Satellite and Cable Directive (usually referred as the SatCab Directive) was introduced to facilitate cross-border broadcasting services by satellite and cable retransmission of programmes within the EU. This legislation harmonises national provisions concerning the right of communication to the public by satellite and the right of retransmission by cable. However, broadcasters face practical difficulties with the acquisition of rights for cross-border online services, which are more and more in demand, especially among young audiences.


Due to the principle of territoriality, broadcasters transmitting online TV and radio programmes need to clear the rights for the relevant territories in order to make their services available across borders. This process is complex and costly, as authorisation needs to be obtained from a multitude of rightsholders quickly. As a result, broadcasters often make their content available in a single member state and put geo-blocking measures in place.