European Parliament committee lets consumers down in geo-blocking vote

BEUC NEWS 11.05.2017

Today, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on the European Commission’s draft law to give consumers access to audiovisual content from another country [1].


Copyright & cultural diversity

Due to outdated copyright laws, broadcasters cannot make their content – movies, series or sport events – available to consumers living in another EU country. Such artificial restrictions do not make sense in a Single Market.

The Commission proposal would strengthen Europe’s cultural diversity. Citizens would be able to discover TV programs, movies and documentaries from other European countries in a few clicks. Currently, the reality is different: over 60% of providers investigated by the European Commission block their content online [2]. The film industry in Europe cannot easily  reach a broader audience beyond its (often) small national market. If MEPs would follow the Commission’s proposal, broadcasters would be able to show Europe’s cultural products to a bigger audience.

Disappointing IMCO committee vote

The IMCO committee, motivated by fears that the financing of European productions could suffer, decided that this proposal should apply only to the broadcasters’ own content. So while broadcasters would be able to make their own productions available to consumers in other Member States, that would not be the case for content that is licensed to them. This is very often the case for films, TV series or sport events. If the IMCO committee position would become law, consumers from abroad would only see part of a broadcaster’s programme like news but not a football match or a movie.

Next steps

The Legal Affairs committee, which is in charge of this file, will debate this proposal and adopt a position in the coming months.

The European Parliament should not give in to unsubstantiated pressure from the film and sports industry who want to maintain their outdated business models that run against consumers’ expectations in the Single Market.


[1] COM/2016/0594 final