The European Commission (“Commission”) recently published a green paper entitled  “Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual Word: Growth, Creation and Values” (“Green Paper”) with the aim of opening a broad, public discussion on the implications of the on-going transformation of the audiovisual media landscape. 

“Convergence” refers to the progressive merger of traditional broadcast services and the internet. Many TV sets now have added internet connectivity and computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones are often used to access audio visual media services. There are currently estimated to be more than 40.4 million internet connectable TVs in Europe and it is predicted they will be present in a majority of EU households by 2016.

These changes are removing traditional boundaries between consumers, broadcast media and the internet, as observed by Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President: 

"Connected TV is the next big thing in the creative and digital worlds. Convergence between sectors means people can enjoy a wider choice of great content – but it also creates disruptions and challenges. We need a converged and EU-wide debate to help deal with these changes. To help business flourish, nurture creativity and protect our values".

The Green Paper invites stakeholders and the wider public to share their views on a range of issues including:

  1. Market considerations: what are the factors that enable US companies to establish a successful presence in the fragmented EU market despite language and cultural barriers, while many EU companies struggle? What are the factors hindering EU companies?
  2. Protecting European values (including media freedom) and user interests: do people expect higher protection for TV programmes than for internet content and where is the line to be drawn? Are current laws appropriate to protect children in a converging media world?
  3. Single market and standards: how can the right technological environment be promoted to ensure that devices work the same way across Member State?
  4. Financing: how will convergence and changing consumer behaviour influence how films, TV shows and other content is financed? How are different actors in the new value-chain contributing?
  5. Openness and media pluralism: should pre-defined filtering mechanisms (e.g. in search engines) be subject to public intervention? Are the existing practices relating to premium content (e.g. major sport events and successful recently released films) at wholesale level affecting market access and sustainable business operations?

The consultation will be open until the end of August 2013. Whilst the Commission has stated that it does not presuppose any specific outcome of the consultation, it has acknowledged that it may result in a number of EU laws being impacted in the medium to long term, including the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

Link to the Commission’s press release: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-371_en.htm

Link to Green Paper: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/sites/digital-agenda/files/convergence_green_paper_en_0.pdf