Woodward seeks backing on EU online directive

Shaun Woodward MP

Broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward has called on Britain's audio visual industries to raise their voice in the lobbying effort aimed at preventing Brussels from seeking to extend broadcasting regulations to the internet. Last year Woodward led a campaign aimed at persuading EU communications commissioner Viviane Reding to amend the proposal, part of the revision of Europe's broadcasting regulations under the Audiovisual Without Frontiers directive.

Under Woodward's compromise proposal linear television programming transmitted via the internet would be open to regulation. But on-demand content such as video clips on MySpace and YouTube would not be brought within the regulatory regime.

Reding, whose proposals have been attacked by broadcasters, telecommunications groups, technology firms and advertisers who fear they will stifle the internet's development, last week said she was "confident that we will now achieve political agreement on the new Audiovisual Without Frontiers Directive by the end of May".

Woodward told a Westminster Media Forum event on regulation in the era of convergence that Europe had a "predilection for regulation" rather than self-regulation, which was the UK Government's favoured option. Woodward said the proposals as first drafted would have had a "sclerotic" impact on the new media sector, and would have been as damaging to the UK as Europe's Common Agricultural Policy had been three decades ago.

"Some parts of the industry engaged with us in that debate with Europe last year. But industry did not do enough," said Woodward. "Here was a policy, the effect of which would have damaged this industry beyond belief."

Woodward said the debate was still not over. "I believe we will secure in May a revision which will allow self-regulation to continue. This is not an argument which is over. I need your help to achieve this."

Lovelace Consulting  |  16.03.2007

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