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EU is thinking of killing off geo-blocking for video

by on07 December 2023

Big content mortified

The European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection is suggesting expanding geo-blocking restrictions to the audiovisual sector, including streaming platforms.

It is fair to say that this has put the fear of god into many big content providers who like the idea of restricting content or forcing users to pay more for the same content in different parts of the world.

The committee wants the Commission to launch a comprehensive review of the current geo-blocking regulation and have that completed by 2025. It has several suggestions for improvement and expansion of the current rules.

The data presented in the report suggest that the effects of such a [geo-blocking] extension would vary by type of content, depending on the level of consumer demand and the availability of content across the EU.

As regards an extension to audio-visual content, it highlights potential consumer benefits, notably in the availability of a wider choice of content across borders. The report also identifies the potential impact that such an extension of the scope would have on the overall dynamics of the audio-visual sector. Still, it concludes that it needs to be further assessed."

The proposals don't include abolishing all territorial licenses in the EU, and they're mindful of the potential impact on the industry.

The Creativity Works! coalition (CW), for example, counts the MPA, ACT, and the Premier League among its members claims geo-blocking technology is crucial to Europe's creative and cultural industries.

"Geo-blocking is one of the foundations for Europe's creative and cultural sectors, providing Europeans with the means to create, produce, showcase, publish, distribute and finance diverse, high-quality and affordable content," they write.

CW warns that banning geo-blocking altogether would be a disaster that puts millions of jobs and billions of euros in revenue at risk. At the same time, it may result in more expensive subscriptions for many consumers.

"Ending geo-blocking's exclusive territorial licensing would threaten 10,000 European cinemas, access to over 8,500 European VOD films and up to half of European film budgets," CW writes.

"More than 100 million European fans could pay more to view the same sports coverage, while major digital streaming platforms might be forced to introduce sharp hikes for consumers in many European countries."

Understandably, the movie industry is concerned about legislation that upsets the status quo. However, the IMCO report doesn't recommend a wholesale ban on regional licenses but aims to ensure that content is available in regions where it currently isn't.


Last modified on 07 December 2023
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