At MIPCOM this coming October, a conference on the “European Digital Single Market,” which will take place on Wednesday, October 18, could prove rather important. Since the European Parliament approved measures removing geo-blocking and permitting the portability of online content, E.U. residents can now access online services while in another E.U. country for a “limited” period of time.
It is possible that this measure may jeopardize investments in European content and affect rights-holders’ ability to license movies or TV shows on a territory-by-territory basis.
The European Commission (E.C.) announced plans to introduce a Digital Single Market (DSM) in November 2014. In May 2015, the E.C. published a 16-point policy plan, and now the Estonian E.U. presidency wants to implement several policies by the end of this year, and it is expected that most of the DSM strategy will be in place by 2019.
The DSM’s first implementation was the elimination of roaming charges for cellular phone calls within the E.U.
Naturally, TV content distributors can still license language rights, assuming that German TV viewers would not be interested in seeing a program in Italian, nor would any territory in the 28-country union where the language is not spoken.
Sports rights could prove to be problematic, since past experience has demonstrated that English TV viewers would be willing to follow a football (soccer) match broadcast with Greek commentary (in 2012 a Portsmouth, U.K. pub landlady won a court fight with the English Premier League over using a Greek TV decoder to show football games).
The U.S. and E.U. entertainment industries oppose the DSM, even though it is said that, since the Hollywood studios already operate on a pan-European basis, they can compete better than indies.
According to a 2016 report from London-based advisers to the media Oliver & Ohlbaum and released by the Oxford, U.K.-based consultants Oxera, the DSM could cost E.U. producers up to 8.2 billion euro (U.S. $9.7 billion) a year and could lead to a slump in investment, with up to 48 percent less content produced, for both film and TV.