Joint statement calling the Parliament to vote for culture on Geo-blocking Regulation

ECCD has joined more than 600 European organisations from the film, cinema, and audiovisual industry to call the European Parliament to cast a vote in support of culture on 13 December 2023 by opposing the call for future inclusion of audiovisual services in the scope of the EU Geo-blocking Regulation. Rejecting the call for future inclusion of audiovisual services is a vote in favour of preserving Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

A ban on the use of geo-blocking technology to support territorial exclusivity for film and audiovisual content and services would severely jeopardize the creative and economic sustainability of the film and audiovisual sector in Europe. This would result in a drop in the number and range of films and audiovisual content produced, with a smaller variety of languages. Distribution and circulation would be drastically reduced across the EU. This would have a direct and negative impact on consumer welfare: significant reduction of choice in content, distribution, and access options as well as a surge in prices.

Surely this cannot be the intended outcome. We therefore urge you to vote for the plenary amendments which secure continued exclusion of audiovisual services from the Geo-blocking Regulation.

The entire film, cinema, and audiovisual sector in Europe is counting on you to ensure that the European Parliament does not jeopardise a 47 billion EUR sector largely composed of SMEs and individual creators, totaling more than 2 million jobs in the EU. This would also reduce access to content for European citizens.

Editor’s Notes:

The importance of territorial exclusivity for the European film and audiovisual sector is widely documented, for example by the European Audiovisual Observatory and recently also by the European Parliament’s Research Service. The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes ongoing research documenting the development of offers of film and television content to European consumers. According to the EAO, on average, European consumers have access to more than 8,500 European films online, of which 82% (~7000) are produced in other European countries – an exponential growth in content and services offered to consumers and a market development welcomed by the film and audiovisual sector in Europe. European consumers are also benefiting from increased access to and availability of audiovisual content and services through the EU Portability Regulation and the EU TV & Radio Programmes Directive.

Consecutive impact-assessments and independent economic analysis have consistently concluded that erosion of territorial exclusivity through a ban on the use of geo-blocking in the context of financing and distributing films and audiovisual content also erodes the economic value of the rights concerned with a direct and negative impact on the financing and distribution opportunities as well as on recoupment of investments of future film and audiovisual content in Europe. Erosion of territorial exclusivity would also have a direct and negative impact on consumer welfare resulting in less choice in content, distribution, and access options as well as higher prices. The impact of including AV in the EU Geo-blocking Regulation, by Oxera, indicates that erosion of territorial exclusivity would have a “significant short-term impact on industry and consumers, with up to €9.3bn of welfare lost per annum—as well as medium- to long-term outcomes that would be worse than they are today (a welfare loss of up to €4.5bn per year.” Equally, as regards sports content, The impact of potential changes to geo-blocking regulation on sport, by Oliver & Ohlbaum, shows that 103 million people in the EU could be exposed to higher prices when accessing coverage of many top-tier sport competitions if a ban on geo-blocking were to be introduced.

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