Report of the AVMS meeting hosted by the Dutch Ministry

The Dutch Ministry hosted a seminar on the AVMS Directive together with European Audiovisual Observatory on 16 June 2011. The seminar focused on describing and discussing the main trends in the European audiovisual market and the legal consequences of those changes. Given the central role of innovation and the growing importance of online distribution of audiovisual content, three keynote speakers from UPC, Google and Philips shared their views on the opportunities, threats and consequences of the major trend to switch to on-demand services.

We post here a brief report of the day:

The European Observatory presented a good overview of the rise of video on demand services – especially the instant rise of online on demand services.  The European Observatory also identified five categories of difficult categories to regulate, ie:

non-commercial organisations (so no economic activity involved) that host online video services (like Europeana),

small sites that offer TV-like content,

sites of online newspapers that extensively use video,

sites that use user generated content (UGC), and

sites that aggregate existing video content etc.

The European Audiovisual Observatory also stated that that had to revise their opinion that the main platform for on demand services will be cable and satellite; there now is a strong shift towards online on demand services like Hulu, Netflix, etc.

Main conclusion of the European Observatory was that Regulatory Authorities probably will be the losers because of the difficulty to regulate online on demand services. One representative of the European Commission stated that regulators do to take their jobs too seriously, for instance there is no legal obligation to monitor 24/7, thereby implicating that it was much to do about nothing. Market parties (ie RTL) stated that on demand services have grown with 60% this spring compared to spring last year, so importance of on demand video increases.

Dutch media regulator will publish its Guidelines within short time frame; they stated that they have identified about 300-500 companies that could be classified as on demand (non-linear) video providers, compared to about 200-300 licences for traditional broadcast channels that are now licenced in the Netherlands.

So it was a good session in the sense that it concluded that (1) on demand services really do take off in Europe (although to a lesser extent compared to US because of copyright issues) and (2) regulators will face a tough job to regulate non-linear AVMS services.

The European Commission will publish its Green Paper on Audiovisual Services on 13th July. It will be interesting to see whether the issue of (non) regulation of non-linear AVMS services will also be part of this Green Paper.