TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Companies Warn About EU Broadcasting Rules

Companies Warn About EU Broadcasting Rules

Associated Press News Wire (
Tue, 18 Apr 2006 20:41:20 -0500

Media and technology companies are warning that proposed European
Union broadcasting rules would restrict the growth of emerging media
formats such as video broadcasts on the Internet and mobile phones.

On Tuesday, an alliance of British companies -- including ITV PLC, BT
Group PLC and Vodafone Group PLC, and the UK subsidiaries of Yahoo
Inc. Intel Corp., and Cisco Systems Inc. -- said a European
Commission proposal to impose rules for traditional broadcasters on
new media providers could have "unintended consequences" and hurt

The European Commission wants to create a level playing field by
making TV and TV-like services -- such as broadcasts over high speed
broadband and third-generation mobile phones - follow the same set of
rules. Those rules include limits on hate speech, advertising and the
kind of content that can be broadcast to children.

Intellect, a London-based business lobby representing technology companies,
said it would be difficult enforce the strict rules.

The EU proposal could ultimately mean less investment for an area that
has enormous growth potential -- leading to fewer companies, less
innovation and higher prices, the group said in a statement.

"Many services unconnected to scheduled broadcast television will be
unintentionally caught," it said.

"Citizen media such as blogs, video-casts and the like are one of the
most exciting developments enabled by new technology. This phenomenon
has the potential to create new businesses ... but this proposed
regulation severely risks stunting its growth," it said.

EU officials were not immediately available Tuesday to respond to the
criticism, but the European Commission has insisted that it has no
plans to regulate the Internet.

The European Internet Services Providers Association also is concerned
about the "lack of clarity" in the EU draft law and is unsure what
kind of technologies would be governed by the stricter rules, said
Richard Nash, the association's secretary general.

"The U.K. government has taken a pro-active line stimulating the
debate. In other countries, there's less awareness of it," he said.

Last year, David Currie, chairman of Britain's broadcasting regulator,
the Office of Communications, said he doubted more regulation was the
best way to promote new content and new business models in Europe.

"We have real concern as to whether it is feasible to adopt a
traditional, broadcast-type regulatory model for content delivered on
new media platforms," he told a September conference on EU
broadcasting rules.

The law will need the backing of the European Parliament and 25
European Union governments before it can take effect. The Parliament
is likely to vote on it later this year.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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