The European Commission launched yesterday a consultation on the Satellite and Cable Directive with a view to further promote cross border access to broadcasting and related online services.

The Satellite and Cable Directive (Directive 93/83/EEC on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission) mainly addresses rights acquisition, setting up (i) a “country of origin” principle for satellite rights and (ii) a “double track process” for cable transmission rights.

As for satellite, under the “country of origin” principle rights are cleared where the uplink takes place, so that rights cleared in one country allow broadcasting in the whole EU, with licence fees that can be determined also taking into account the potential audience outside the uplink country.

As for cable, under the “double track process” the operators that want to include many countries in their packages have to negotiate the rights through collective management organisations or broadcasters. More in particular, broadcasters license to cable operators the rights exercised by them in respect of their own transmission, while all other rights necessary for the cable retransmission of a specific programme can only be exercised through a collecting society.

There are no doubts about the fact that the current scenario is very different from that considered when the Directive was issued in 1993. The European Commission is now asking whether, among other things, the above clearance system effectively facilitated cross-border clearances and whether the Directive should take into account the existing technology landscape, also including OTT operators, new viewing patterns and access from multiple devices (e.g. second screen). This may imply extending the Directive also to Internet services (online transmissions and retransmissions) and other online ancillary broadcast services (e.g. online simulcast, VOD, catch up, etc.), thus covering a wider portion of the rights clearance market.

As indicated by the European Commission, the survey can also be completed online (see this link) and will be open until 16 November 2015 (late comments will not be considered!).

Views are sought from all relevant stakeholders, including Member States’ authorities, broadcasters, authors, audiovisual and record producers, performers, collective management organisations, satellite and cable operators, internet and online service providers

These are very exciting times for media regulatory reviews (see also here Saverio’s post on the related consultation on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive), with the possibility to encourage rules that will foster a more integrated European media and broadcasting market.