The Public Consultation on Audiovisual Media Service Directive was launched on 6 July. The Commission is, in a healthy exercise of recollecting the views of all interested parties, aiming to make Europe’s audiovisual media landscape fit for purpose in the digital age.
On 30 September Telefónica has submitted its answer. Our vision is absolutely understandable and fair: We ask the Commission to re-balance the strength of the EU industry and to re-establish its competitiveness. For this to happen, all efforts should be made to favor the establishment of a sustainable and more flexible environment in which all agents are submitted to the same rules regardless of the place of establishment or the place where the editorial decisions are taken. Among these agents, we highlight international service providers, such as over-the-top-players, that could highly distort competition to the detriment of European players.
Given the above, Telefónica firmly believes that non-EU audiovisual service providers that are providing audiovisual services to European citizens should be subject to the same rules of EU providers. Regulators have to restore a balanced set of rules to enable that all businesses compete on equal footing. Achieving a level playing field is a precondition to avoid the competitive disadvantages that European media companies are facing today.
All in all, we ask the European Commission to deregulate EU services in order to re-establish the attractiveness and competitiveness of the European Union and its creative industry. Thus, the Commission should harmonize the rules governing AVMS to ensure a greater degree of level playing field.
Additionally, Telefónica has paid particular attention to the obligation of promoting European works through financial obligations. Due to the possibility for Member States to impose stricter regulation on the services established within their respective territories – this is the case of Spain or France-, the country-of-origin principle has also lead to forum shopping by companies seeking to establish themselves in the Member State with the most lenient transposition and/or application of the Directive. Thus not the principle itself, but its implementation can be unfair for services subject to a particularly strict or detailed national regulation.
In other words, the fact of imposing financial obligations and obligations of other kind related to the promotion in a specific percentage of European works (i.e funding and establishing reserve quotas) exclusively on EU based content distributors implies in the end a disadvantage vs. non-EU based players who are able to provide similar services through the Internet without having to comply with those obligations. Same rules should apply to same services regardless of the place of establishment of the service provider and where editorial decisions are taken.
Regarding all these obligations Telefonica believes that the European Commission should promote a more flexible regulatory framework that better suits business interests and the new market reality.