ACT ANNUAL CONFERENCE – BRUSSELS. Industry figures yesterday expressed their concerns regarding the uneven application of state aid rules across Europe, the struggle to deal with piracy and strengthen copyright protection and convergence issues.
ACT President and CEO of RTL Belgium Philippe Delusinne commented on the “sadly overlooked” application of Neelie Kroes’ rules on the ex-ante assessment of public broadcasters in relation to state aid. He also urged broadcasters to ensure their content reflected the interests of local audiences across the EU, which is the second largest television market globally. Picking up on this theme in the panel discussion, Magnus Brooke, director of policy & regulatory affairs ITV plc, remarked that his company now realised whilst creating content tailored for the local market remains a priority, no content originated by ITV could on its first broadcast recoup its costs. Instead the company seeks to achieve a return on investments after national, European and then global sales. The impact of this extended perspective on financing content on the type and quality of content produced by companies was not explored.
Petr Dvorak, senior vice president of broadcasting, CME presented a more positive view of content origination. His Czech company, which creates almost all of its own content, has successfully created a television show aimed at Slovakian and Czech viewers.
Convergence issues were mentioned by Piotr Walter, vice president and head of television broadcasting for TVN Group. Its newly launched Internet projects exploiting convergence in electronic media, such as vod.onet.pl, might need more time to reach the level of profitability though TVN’s Onet.pl portal is already profitable. TVN was not the only company to express concern about how to monetize investment in the internet.
New ACT member Mediaset also responded to a comment from the floor by Google’s director of European public policy, Simon Hampton, who said that television companies were benefiting from excerpts of programmes being shown on sites such as his own YouTube that effectively acted as an advertising medium. Gina Nieri, Mediaset’s legal affairs director, countered by saying that free showing of her company’s content on YouTube was not culturally acceptable to her company. Google does offer a content screening service to television companies to ensure that any content infringing intellectual property rights can be removed.