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Copyright reform overdue

“Broadcasting needs a mindset that is open, borderless and competitive. Europe’s single market is our crown jewel – let’s preserve it and enhance it,” argued Neelie Kroes, Europe’s outgoing VP commissioner fot the Digital Agenda and Connected Europe. But she warned that change had to take place.

“The internet doesn’t know borders. Territorial restrictions just put barriers in the way. We already have a ‘country of origin’ rule for audiovisual and media services [which permits] broadcast anywhere in the EU. This is central to a single market, central to our digital future.”

Madam Kroes, who departs the Commission in the next few weeks, stressed that copyright reform is needed. “Today, broadcasters spend years clearing licenses so that they can show material in other EU countries. That’s expensive enough for established players: new innovative players can’t afford it at all.

“I am asked ‘Why can’t I access my favourite TV show when I travel’ and ‘How do I watch the match of my soccer team from back home?’ It’s time for change. Today’s rules are obstructing tomorrow’s digital future.”

She explained that the European Commission’s president-elect J C Juncker is making the digital single market a priority. “We need to ensure open access to that content. That starts with net neutrality, so viewers are free to access whatever they choose without their telco provider deciding for them.”

Kroes cautioned against moving too fast in terms of some regulation, but stressed that in areas such as copyright “reform is long overdue. Let’s take every opportunity to deregulate and adapt.”