Will the digital single market work for European audiences?

Mathieu Moreuil wonders whether the digital single market will work for European audiences.

Mathieu Moreuil | Photo credit: CW!

By Mathieu Moreuil

14 Jul 2016

We - as creators and their business partners - spend our professional lives making sure as many people as possible can enjoy the latest in culture and entertainment. We've worked hard to make sure that more online content is available today than ever before and in more ways. 

The European Commission's own Eurobarometer survey found that at least nine out of ten respondents were able to find the content they were looking for online. 

The Digital Single Market (DSM) can be a big opportunity for our sectors provided it continues to nurture a sustainable ecosystem that is inductive to further investments, generates growth and jobs for the EU economy and enables us to keep meeting European audiences' demand. 


We have thoroughly assessed the potential impact of some of the measures announced by the Commission on our sectors and audiences.

Most recently, film and TV producers spoke out at the Cannes Festival. They fear that measures undermining their freedom to license works by territory – the basis of filmmaking and series financing worldwide - could harm their future audiences.

New major research by economic consultancy Oxera and media consultancy Oliver & Ohlbaum shows that measures limiting the freedom to work by exclusive territorial licensing could lead to yearly consumer welfare losses of up to €9.3bn.

Their findings were echoed by another important new piece of research assessing the potential impact of cross-border access on the European sports audiovisual ecosystem. 

The film and television sector is not alone in its concern: other sectors such as music, video games and books are worried that a new Geo-blocking Regulation could be extended to services offering copyright-protected content. 

Counterintuitively, cross-border activity could be reduced by undermining the ability to provide services tailored to local market conditions. In the music sector, the local networks that help break artists across borders would suffer, meaning fewer opportunities for up-and-coming musicians to 'make it' in Europe. 

Overall, the work of the cultural and creative sectors would become less diverse, leaving European audiences with limited choice. The DSM must continue to foster cultural diversity so that we can continue to celebrate the rich variety of linguistic and social heritage that each nation in the European family brings to the Union. 

We see this as one of the continent's great strengths underpinning Europe's role on the world stage. This means we should cater for the diversity in the tastes of our audiences to maximise the reach of our work. 

It must also be possible to take local customs, like holiday periods, into account when marketing new creative works in different countries and to adapt our offer to suit local economic conditions, so that consumers get something they want and can afford.

The evidence is clear: European audiences will lose out from ill-conceived changes to Europe's copyright regime, however attractive they may seem in theory.

Copyright underpins European diversity. We hope Europe's leaders will listen.


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