ACT Faces Copyright Issues

By Cathy Meils

BUDAPEST: Speaking at the DISCOP Budapest TV market, Ross Biggam, Director General of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) said the issue of copyright will be the organization's consuming topic for the year to come.

Biggam referred to a case which is now underway in the EU involving the issue of rights to screen sports in territories which have exclusive rights, by broadcasting coverage transmitted by other countries. The argument is based on the legally-based principle of free movement of goods within the EU, which applies in this case to the use of a foreign satellite TV reciever to view content and screen it at sports bars. The decision appears to be leaning toward freeing up rights.

"There could be a significant shift in the way people buy and sell content," Biggam said. One future option, he suggested, could be the sale of language rights, not terrestrial rights. The biggest impact of the case is likely to be withing the Eruopean satellite network. Although a decision is still some time off, Biggam said TV content sellers and buyers need to be aware of the looming change. He added that fiction content was unlikely to be affected, due to the matter of author's rights.

Biggam had some better news to impart: for the tenth year in succession, EU consumers are watching more TV, now up to an average of 228 minutes per day in 2010. Even better news: revenues for TV stations across Europe overall are beginning to return to pre-crisis levels.