The authors of the main article, Nico van Eijk and Bart van der Sloot of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law (IViR) explain that networks obliged by must-carry legislation to carry certain channels have a right to expect remuneration from these channels which must be “non-discriminatory, transparent and proportionate”. They address in detail two important court cases, the Belgian one mentioned above and another German case, as examples of what happens when national disputes are brought before a higher, European legal instance. The report then goes on to look at the implementation of European must-carry rules in the national legislation of Belgium (Flanders), France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
According to the Universal Service Directive, must-carry regulation is “technology neutral” in that it may apply to cable, satellite, terrestrial networks and also IPTV, so it should be interesting to see how Member States move this concept forward in the context of scope decisions relating to implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS), particularly in the context of IPTV and internet-delivery of content.
Updates on the Regulation of Electronic Programme Guides
Also included in the same European Audiovisual Observatory report is an update on the regulatory landscape and the latest legal developments related to the regulation of Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs). The regulation of EPGs principally addresses the issue of how ´prominence´ is allocated to channels and content in terms of both listings and presentation.
Bart van der Sloot of the IViR explains that EPG regulation treads a fine line between the laws that pertain to content and access, and between media-specific legislation and general competition law. Legislators in this context are faced with the contrast between maintaining a neutral position and, on the contrary, intervening to promote quality and diversity. Another view of this topic, from a US perspective, is provided by Jonathan Perl of the New York Law School, who explains the background and deduces that broadcasters will continue to argue that must-carry legislation in the US remains necessary and should even be reinforced. US cable operators on the other hand argue that 20 years of must carry have not sufficed to produce localism.
Bart van der Sloot concludes by raising the question as to whether future legislation will cover internet based EPGs such as smartphone apps or social network sites. Indeed with shifting content navigation paradigms, away from ´grid format´ listings, and looking at how personalisation and recommendation services are evolving in the context of new ´content discovery´ services, it is difficult to see how the issue of ´prominence´can be sustained except for those delivery networks which are indeed the most heavily relied upon by the public. It is also clear that the debate will continue as the interests of audiences and market players, as well as technology and market parameters continue to evolve.