Europe yawns at EU robo-commish Ansip's digital plans

Only 8 per cent want to watch Estonian footie in Brussels. Proles!


Comment Eurocrats' proposals to change how Europe's independent TV and film makers do business aren't needed – according to the EU's own research, released on one of the quietest Fridays of the year.

The European Commission wants to force the producers to outlaw territorial licensing as part of its "digital single market" strategy. The proposals are expected to force a producer to license EU-wide, ending the territorial exclusives which are typically necessary to fund the venture.

Opponents to the plan say the winner would be Hollywood, which can license its generic lowest-common-denominator material at low cost across Europe, leading to a loss of diversity – and specifically European content.

Britain's Labour Party said the measures would seriously harm cultural diversity, and hit Britain's booming film business.

"It would be a huge boost for the likes of Netflix or even international cable and telecom companies," explained media commentator Ray Snoddy.

Yet only eight per cent of Europeans have actually tried to access cross-border media content. Just half of those who did try managed to do so successfully, according to consumer research conducted for DG-UNICORN DG-CONNECT.

The survey polled 26,000 punters across Europe in January. It confirms earlier research that demand for cross-border content is low.

You can see why Brussels would want to "bury the bad news" – few correspondents are around on the last Friday in August.

"Lack of interest in digital content (54 per cent) and sufficient choice in their own country (51 per cent) are the main reasons why Europeans have not tried to access content through online services generally meant for users in other member states," the study notes.

Damaging Europe's cultural diversity to "solve" a problem that doesn't exist seems odd – but then Brussels bureaucrats and their allied media often have their own agenda, at odds with the concerns of the public. For a moment, put yourself in one of those bureaucrats' shoes – it's a solitary life, hundreds of miles from home, consoled only by the prospect of a gold-plated pension: no wonder "accessing cross-border content" is the burning issue of the day.

Ansip needs evidence

Shoot first, justify later:
Policy-based evidence making from European Commissioner Ansip, as first seen here

The plans are the brainchild of the commissioner from Estonia, Andreas Ansip, who devised the policy before he understood how Europe's audio-visual producers raise finance and sell their product.

A face-saving measure may (sensibly) ensure consumers legally-acquired media is portable across borders, but fall short of full geoblocking and contract restrictions. ®

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