The new rules form part of the Digital Single Market Strategy, and were first set out by the European Commission eighteen months ago. The Commission’s stated aim was to address the problem that consumers were often prevented, on grounds of copyright, from accessing content services when travelling abroad which they can already consume whilst on the go in their home country. the new regulation was approved by the European Parliament in first reading on 18 May 2017 and by the Council of the EU on 8 June 2017.
The new rules apply not only for cable subscriptions, but also for IPTV customers and DTH providers who offer an OTT service, and extends their TV Everywhere service outside of their home country. The rules will apply nine months after publication in the EU Official Journal. Under the new provisions, service providers will offer, at no additional cost, portable online content services to subscribers who are temporarily present in a member state other than their member state of residence – so expats will not be able to make use of this content portability.
Cable Europe has long advocated a proportionate “portability” of services, arguing that technology is capable of satisfying consumer demand but that a lack of legal clarity has prevented operators from doing so. The association has also advocated strongly for a balanced solution, which would acknowledge the delicate ecosystem of funding which exists in the creative industries and respect the legitimate interests of rights holders.
“Cable operators know that the portability of content both within and across borders is something that our customers want to enjoy,” said Caroline van Weede, managing director of Cable Europe.
“With so much of our connected lives taking place on the move, it seems only logical that our entertainment should follow suit. We’re extremely pleased to see a first step in the right direction with the portability provisions green-lit today by the Council today.”
A customer travelling abroad will benefit from this new regulation only if he can already port the content in the country where he resides. This is not always the case because of complex rights clearance.
Another EU regulation is currently being examined by the European Parliament and the Council that will make it easier for cable operators to clear these out-of-home rights within a given Member State. Once this second regulation is passed, cable customers will be able to travel with their content both within and across borders in the EU.