The European Commission (EC) has put forward a new reform proposal concerning the so called Digital Single Market. As explained by Variety, the latest proposal by the EC has seen the removal of plans for full cross-border access, where any European citizen could access digital content markets in other countries. Instead it pushes for cross-border portability for those travelling around Europe.
The EC suggests that "under the proposed rules, the provision of the online content service will be considered to take place in the Member State in which the consumer resides. No separate license would be required to cover the temporary use of the service in other Member States." With the new legal mechanism service providers could offer "cross-border portability without the need to re-negotiate the licenses existing between rights holders and service providers," the document says.
Mixed reactions, concerning the new proposals, have already been seen from various industry bodies and companies. The Brussels-based International Federation of Film Producer Associations said that, as far as digital content portability goes, "the market should drive the solutions to meet portability demand," so legislation is not appropriate.
Europa Distribution, an organisation which represents 160 distributors, said that it supported portability for video-on-demand subscriptions. However it is crucial that there must be limits on durations of roaming access, to prevent abuse. The same concerns were brought up by John McVay, chief exec of Pact, which represents British producers.
Considering the new proposals from another angle, Jean-David Blanc, co-founder of Molotov.tv (a French TV channel VOD service), said that he saw benefits to both national platforms and their subscribers. "Denying them access to their local platforms encourage people to sign up for global, multi services such as Netflix and Amazon, or find illegal alternatives," warned Blanc.
Another welcoming voice came from Amanda Nevill, CEO of the British Film Institute (BFI). Nevill said that digital services in the UK such as Netflix, Sky Go and the BFI Player should indeed allow those paying for subscriptions to watch their content when they travel temporarily in the EU. However, to prevent system abuse, it is important that there is "stringent verification of the consumer’s identity".
There are currently about 3,6000 VOD platforms in Europe. The EC expects its Digital Single Market reforms to be approved next year and implemented in 2017.