Strasbourg comment: Preparing for a fully converged audiovisual world

The EU must work to ensure 'non-discriminatory, transparent and open access' in a fully converged audiovisual world, says Sabine Verheyen.

By Sabine Verheyen

Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE) is Chair of Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee

14 Mar 2014

Digitalisation and the internet have changed the framework for media-specific regulation. Viewers, listeners and readers can no longer distinguish whether they get content via the so-called 'traditional' radio channels or via the internet. The result is that regulated broadcasting and on-demand services compete on internet-enabled devices with non-regulated content from the internet.

Two worlds collide. Many citizens use their computer, smartphone or tablet as a television or they surf the internet through a television or game console. Therefore, the European parliament called for the adaption of the European legal framework to the new conditions and for a review of the directive on audiovisual media services.

For the viewer, it is not clear which content is subject to European requirements. It is therefore necessary that the rights and obligations of broadcasters are brought to balance through a horizontal and cross-media regulatory framework with those of other market participants. This is the only way we can provide effective consumer, youth and data protection in Europe.

Even if the majority of users in Europe continue to receive audiovisual content primarily through traditional television, there is, at least, a recognition of a strong trend for additional use of mobile devices. The majority of MEPs rejected overregulation, which means that some content cannot be found in its entirety on the internet.

The variety of cultural and audiovisual content on offer must also be accessible and readily available in a convergent media world for all European citizens, especially if the users are already offered content by the appliance manufacturer, network operator or content provider. We must legally ensure non-discriminatory, transparent and open access to the internet for all users and providers of audiovisual services.

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