Monday, February 05, 2007

Lords Slams EU Commission on TV Regulation

A report published today by the House of Lords European Union Committee criticises the Commission’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive for its attempt to introduce ‘burdensome and inappropriate’ regulation which could damage British industry. The EU’s proposals would see ‘television-like’ new media services like 18 Doughty Street come under the same European regulatory framework as traditional broadcasting.

The European Commission argued that these ‘new’ broadcasters are competing for audiences and advertising revenue with traditional broadcasters and so should be subject to the same rules. The Lords Committee are firm in rejecting this position. They argue that is not the role of regulation to protect established broadcasters from new competition operating under different business models. The Committee suggest it would be preferable to liberalise the provisions on advertising for established broadcasters rather than seek to extend existing provisions to new media services... They point out that enforcement of the proposed Directive will be fraught with difficulties particularly as the range of new media continues to develop and expand, and the definition of the services covered may not offer sufficient legal certainty. The Committee are particularly concerned that the EU’s proposals could force new media broadcasters to move their base of operations away from Europe and broadcast into the EU from a non-European base where they would be exempt from the Directive. This would be particularly damaging to the UK that has a thriving new media industry.

For the history of this issue and the disgraceful record of some Tory MEPs, including Christopher Beazley, on supporting further regulation, click HERE and HERE.


Anonymous said...

Tricky one here, Iain. The problem is that 'the internet' is just a medium.

BBC TV now transmit via satellite, via Freeview, and via the internet.

I think they would have a hard time arguing that those media are exempt from the laws applying to the stuff being sent from terrestrial aerials.

Companies like Napster used to operate outside the law. A lot of stuff on YouTube breaches copyright and much of the internet is fairly unregulated. This has been a great freedom from legal constraints and boundaries enforced by nations.

But the fact is that nirvana can't last for ever. Witness 'The Great Firewall of China'. Internet freedom will change, probably for the worse. But it is also difficult to argue that, say, BNP TV could broadcast stuff which would not be allowed under our existing laws, and not be subject to any kind of control or oversight.

Personally, I think that we could put up with some BNP tosh as a price for also being able to let the chinese discuss human rights, but sadly the internet looks it will become a much more regulated corporate space devoted to commerce - but surely that is something the Conservatives would be in favour of?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you are whingeing about, Iain. It just means that you will have to give two sides of either argument on, for example, road pricing without expressing a preference for either. It will just mean that you have to have impartial discussion of 'gay adoption' without suggesting that either viewpoint has a higher moral equivalence. The BBC do this all the time, so why shouldn't you..?

And as Polly Toynbee suggested, all posts should tell us 3 things we didn't know, by talking to sources and giving both sides of the argument, just like the Guardian..

But Iain, you do all this already, so why are you so worried ? Or are you just worried about your partner in crime, a certain Guido Fawkes?

Anonymous said...

Yes, about time those intellectually superior EUrocrats told our inferior and non-democratically accountable Lords what to do...

I'm looking forward not to have to read up and decide on arguments, but to have my point of view decided in Brussels, think of the time we will save ! And we won't have any of that tedious argument with verity if we are all programmed to think the same way!

Yes, roll on the EU super-state with their European Thought Defence long as I can still see Big Brother from time to time..

George Orwell's great-grandson..

Newmania said...

but surely that is something the Conservatives would be in favour of?
The classic anononymut.. No Conservatives are , of course , the ones who value Liberty whereas the statist and controlling left believe people , left to their own devices , are incapable of “Playing nicely” .

Rules are themselves liberating. Perhaps I have been as to blame as anyone but I am increasingly bored, after the initial gambolling friskily, with unstructured and gibbering twaddle .You cannot write a poem without observing the verse form and you cannot have a debate without observing broad parameters of allowable comment. The left cannot conceive of freedom other than as anarchy , this is because they do not understand tradition and culture . They are soulless automatons who recycle long dead doctrines like Daleks.

Money and “commerce “ is also a good thing not a bad thing by the way.

Dan Hassett said...

The current broadcasting laws were set when limited supply meant only a select few had the opportunity to have their say, so it was necessary to place restrictions on their free speech in the interest of democracy.

Things have changed. The internet has given the power of broadcast to the masses like never before. It's becoming the equivalent of a chat in the pub, where freedom of speech is only a threat to those who wish to ignore the views of the general public - such as the EU.

To me, the logical conclusion of all that is the the rules relating to impartiality should be relaxed and should only apply to the main broadcasters, who all fulfil a public broadcasting remit. I fear that the conclusion that our EU masters will draw is that they need to control the chat in the pub as well.

Anonymous said...

Brussells is never in favour of competition, we know that already. They much prefer dealing with large, established (and all too often state subsidised) organisations that are likely to welcome any restrictions liable to hamper the development of dangerous innovations that might cut into their markets.

But with the internet, I think they're too late. There are just too many options available for broadcasting/receiving news, comment or even the old-fashioned programme format. Indeed, there's a strong likelihood that TV per se will become just another facility available on the web.

Just as video and DVD reduced cinemas from a major leisure business to a minor one, so the net will affect TV in much the same way, and it's difficult to see how they can prevent it.

They can mutter about the 'China option', with firewalls and censorship, but that won't work either, the Chinese got their controls in place *before* logging-on took off in their country. Even so, control is becoming less certain with every internet connection made there.

No, on this one they're on a loser. The US probably has the biggest share in internet usage and they have freedom of expression built into their constitution, so what are they going to do? Isolate Europe from this subversive contamination? Not that they wouldn't love to do just that, but it's totally impractical.

Might not stop them trying, though.
They are that stupid.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

The EU wants control of hates to see that internet is chaotic libertarian construct. It will do everything it can to regulate the internet by any means it can. This is just the opening salvo in their quest to end the internet as we know it.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that the EU won't let this one go quietly, but at least our Lords are trying to beat some sense into them.

And to anonymous (9:34am), if you think blogs are always about seeing "both sides of the argument"
then please feel free to bugger off and read a different blog instead - personally I find Iain's partiality very refreshing.

Anonymous said...

I meant 9:39am...

Anonymous said...

Ah, am feeling old and tired today so much enjoyed and appreciated the humour of seeing "Christopher Beazley" and "Tory" in the same sentence without any overt trace of irony.