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CREATIVE MEDIA EUROPE Audiovisual Content and Online Growth

Studies, published on 01 March 2012 Download document
CREATIVE MEDIA EUROPE Audiovisual Content and Online Growth Thumnail

The European television business has never been healthier. European consumers, despite the vast array of competing demands for their leisure time, are watching more television than ever before – on average, 228 minutes per day in 2010, the tenth successive year in which that key indicator had increased. European broadcasting is today an €84 billion sector – but, crucially, a sector which reinvests up to 50% of its revenues back into content – whether this is sport, news, entertainment programmes, movie rights or documentaries.

In inviting e‐Media Institute to write this study, we sought to respond to some recent thinking at the European Commission.

The e‐Media Institute research is intended to be read in conjunction with the formal response of the Association of Commercial Television to the European Commission consultation on the "Green Paper on Audiovisual Content" ‐ COM(2011) 427.

e‐Media were asked to examine four broad areas

  • INVESTMENT IN CONTENT: here, the intention is to put a pan‐European figure on major commercial broadcasters' annual investment in original content;
  • FROM BROADCASTERS TO CROSS‐PLATFORM OPERATORS: we aim to show the extent to which European broadcasters are embracing the Internet as an opportunity, not fearing it as a threat. The oncefashionable belief that the Internet would "kill off" television has lost all credibility (rather, one might ask what the Internet would look like without television content?) as broadcasters have enthusiastically launched new online services to grow and complement our existing broadcast businesses. We asked e‐Media Institute to examine a representative sample of European markets to illustrate this point;
  • DOES CONTENT CROSS FRONTIERS?: the European Commission, legitimately, wishes to create a single market in digital content. Might the Commission perhaps underestimate the extent to which content already crosses frontiers, maybe because it is distributed via niche channels or because it is the programme format rather than the original‐language programme which is exported?
  • ARE "RIGHTS PROBLEMS" BEHIND A [PERCEIVED] LACK OF TRANSFRONTIER DISTRIBUTION?: there is, we hope, common ground between the European Commission, established stakeholders, and new entrants that rightsholders and creators have a right to be paid for the distribution of their work. If we accept that rightsholders must be paid, then clearly acquisition of rights is an issue for any operator, new or established, national or transfrontier. But this does not mean that "rights" are a barrier to new services, and we asked e‐Media Institute to explore and quantify some of the non‐rights factors which will influence a decision on which territories to target.

To conclude, the European Commission is posing a range of very pertinent questions at a crucial time in the development of our sector. It is a common belief in the media business that the television sector is a vehicle for growth and innovation. But at a time when our sector is changing faster than ever, and being scrutinised more than ever by EU regulators, we felt the need to illustrate via this report the benefits that the commercial broadcasters' multi‐billion euros' annual investment in original content can bring to the European economy.

We believe that we share with the European Commission at least some starting points: most importantly,neither we nor the Commission wish to see regulators intervening to shore up specific business models. If consumers wish to see a different form or content, or the same content via a new platform or in a new way, it is our duty to anticipate and serve that demand, rather than it being the role of the EU to protect the established way of doing things. In its "EU Digital Agenda" from 2010 and the more recent "Green Paper on Audiovisual Content" of July 2011, the European Commission has rightly restricted its role to asking questions of broadcasters and other operators. Running through many of these questions is a clear theme: are current arrangements for the production and distribution of audiovisual content optimal in ensuring consumer satisfaction, and in encouraging European players to exploit the full potential of the Internet?

We hope that e‐Media Institute's work provides evidence for our answer to these questions, and look forward to continuing the debate.