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The Net Neutrality Consultation

Position Papers, published on 05 September 2010 Download document

Introduction

The Association of Commercial Television in Europe representing the interests of 30 commercial broadcasters in 34 European countries welcomes the opportunity to submit its views to the Commission public consultation on net neutrality. The ACT members represent a wide variety of business models who continue to diversify and expand in order to meet consumer demand and expectations. To achieve this, commercial broadcasters are constantly investing and re-investing in new formats, services and content which they strive to make available on all platforms.

The broadband Internet (fixed or mobile) represents a complementary means of distribution for many of our member companies who are seeking to reach a wider and more diverse audience; however, it does not substitute other distribution platform but it provides added value for consumers alongside the more established means of distribution.

The internet is a new platform which raises numerous complex issues. Illegal distribution of copyrighted content on the internet is probably one of the most worrying phenomena which brings about enormous losses for the creative industries in terms of revenues and job losses not only in Europe but worldwide as well. In addition, the traffic generated by the illegal distribution of content potentially causes network congestion with a double negative effect: consumers might not benefit from the quality of service they expect and have paid for and legal services might be affected as well which is also detrimental to the consumer experience.

We support the Commission's careful approach to the issue of Net Neutrality which avoids artificially "importing" the issues at stake in the USA. Despite the leading position of the US in internet markets and in driving global internet policy, its market structures and related regulatory and competition issues cannot be easily translated elsewhere.

So, remedies which may work on one continent should be carefully analysed before being applied to market situations in Europe which may be significantly different. In the absence of any demonstratrable sustained market failure or abuses of market power, the dynamic conditions of the competitive market in Europe will be the driver for both access and content providers to innovate with different delivery and charging models.

For the time being, if the discussion is concentrated at the national level for the implementation of the New Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications, it could also continue at European level, as the net neutrality issue cannot be restricted at national borders. European discussions on this issue should try, in so far as possible, to respect national approaches to this question while recognising the international dimension of the Internet.