Three weeks ago I wrote to Tory MEP Christopher Beazley, who sits on the Committee which is considering the EU Draft Directive on broadcasting. I asked if he would be voting against it, as it seeks to regulate internet TV (threatening to close down internet TV stations like 18DoughtyStreet). I rather naively assumed that as a Conservative, Mr Beazley would not want to see jobs exported out of the EU or any regulation of the internet. Wrong. I copy below his mealy mouthed reply, from which it seems clear that he supports the draft directive. It also took him two reminders and three weeks to reply.
Perhaps readers would like to email Mr Beazley with their own thoughts… firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr Beazley will no doubt soon be seeking reselection, so I am sure he will be particularly interested in the views of people from the East of England. Let's hope the replies don't take three weeks...
Thank you for your e-mail in which you express concerns over the proposed Audiovisual Media Services Directive following the article in The Times as attached to your e-mail. The broad intention of the Directive is to provide minimum standards for on-demand services, it is not desirable or practical to regulate all aspects of the internet in this framework. Both in the European Parliament and in the Council Working Group discussions are still on-going and we will not know how the final Directive will look, in precise detail until after the vote. Nevertheless there is broad agreement about the general aim of the new Directive.
The Times article you attach carries some significant inaccuracies. The Broadcasting Minister’s assertions in the article that the scope of the Directive would cover local sports clubs with advertising is incorrect. The Commission has repeatedly assured members of the Culture and Education Committee that the Directive is not intended to cover local websites with local advertising using moving images. The Rapporteur, EPP-ED Group colleague Ruth Hieronymi, has already amended the Directive to underline that blogs and user generated content is not covered by the scope of the Directive. Her amendment to Recital 13 underlines this. There are also Compromise Amendments which reinforce this position by highlighting editorial responsibility. This refers to broadcasters who have the ability to compile schedules and decide on the format of programming. Therefore, user generated content, by definition cannot be regulated in the same way as the service provider only has the capacity to remove content after it has been posted.
It is certainly the case that internet based TV, offering services that are like traditional television where the consumer will expect the same level of regulation and protection, will fall under the scope of the Directive. Conservative MEPs on the relevant Committees have been working consistently to ensure, that the Directive emerges in a state which is both workable and does not stifle innovation. Please see the link below for Mrs Hieronymi’s Report for your information
With best regards,