Report on EU public consultation concerning copyright with regard to EU Satellite and Cable Directive

The public consultation on the review of Directive 93/83/EEC on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission (the “Directive”) was held from 24 August 2015 until 16 November 2015. This review (de) is part of the Digital Single Market Strategy which has as one of its objectives to enhance cross-border access to TV and radio programmes in the European Union.

Respondents were asked about the functioning of the existing rules applicable to clearance of copyright and related rights for satellite broadcasting (the “country of origin” principle). Respondents were also asked about their views on the impact of a possible extension of the application of the principle to the different online services. Overall, about half of the respondents consider that the existing provisions facilitated the clearance of rights at least to some extent. Respondents’ views are split as to whether the application of the country of origin principle has increased consumers’ access to satellite broadcasting services across borders.

A significant part of consumers and their representatives raise that the current provisions of the Directive do not sufficiently ensure access to content available in other Member States. Some consumers underline that these problems concern not only premium content (such as sports and films) but also other content, for instance cultural programmes. The majority of Member States’ public authorities consider that the country of origin principle facilitated the clearance of rights. Some of them, however, underline that the practical application of this principle is limited for audiovisual.

The majority of right holders do not consider that the application of the country of origin principle facilitates the clearance of rights. Right holders indicate that multi-territorial licences are available and that therefore there are no problems with acquiring them. In their view, cross-border offerings of content are limited because of insufficient consumer demand, language barriers as well as commercial choices of service providers. Certain right holders, in particular film/AV producers, argue that the application of the country of origin principle diminishes the scope of their rights because it limits their freedom to license the rights as they see fit. A significant proportion of collective management organisations (CMOs) considers that the application of the principle of country of origin has not facilitated copyright clearance. The majority of CMOs do not have an opinion on whether its application has increased consumers’ cross-border access to TV and radio programmes.

The vast majority of broadcasters consider that the country of origin principle facilitates the clearance of rights at least to some extent. Also, they generally consider that this principle increased consumers’ cross-border access to satellite broadcasting services. A number of commercial broadcasters submit that there are obstacles to cross-border access which are not related to copyright. Similarly to right holders, they mention insufficient consumers’ demand and language barriers. Other service providers (internet service providers (ISPs), internet protocol television (IPTV) operators, digital terrestrial television (DTT) providers, cable operators, telecommunication network operators and video on demand (VOD) operators) do not have much experience with the practical application of the country of origin principle. Yet, the majority of them consider that it facilitates the right clearance and cross-border access by consumers.