Speaking at a conference in Tallinn, organised as part of the Estonian Presidency of the EU, Jeremy Darroch said too much of the European political debate was centred on the American model rather than understanding what Europe had that was succeeding.
“The vast majority of EU countries have complex and successful local broadcasting ecosystems with commercial broadcasters like Sky coexisting, competing and cooperating with public broadcasters like Rai, ARD and the BBC,” he said. “These valuable ecosystems are Europe’s competitive advantage over the US. America simply does not have our rich historic tapestry to tap into and, while US drama formats set the benchmark for quality, they cannot compete for diversity and cultural resonance.”
Darroch said shows like Babylon Berlin, currently in its first season in Germany, The Young Pope, and Riviera were series uniquely and noticeably European in storytelling. He argued that financing expensive series by selling them abroad is one of the reasons European TV has begun to conquer the world. Sacrificing territorial licences, as originally proposed in the Satellite and Cable Regulation, would be shooting ourselves in the foot.
Sky’s presence in millions of living rooms came with responsibilities, the scheduling of programmes to protect minors and the requirement for news channels to be fair and impartial. Darroch contrasted this with global online platforms with what he characterised as “no regulation, no accountability and little transparency”.
“We increasingly see our carefully regulated content and our socially responsible services appearing on the same devices and screens side by side with a completely unregulated free for all. That is not good for our customers, it is not good for our industry and it is not good for our society.”
Darroch’s argument is that if broadcasters such as Sky are regulated in the basis of their impact on society, then the impact of the internet is much greater, but these companies face none of the scrutiny or regulation that broadcasters meet.
In extending his argument to the amount of tax paid, Darroch did not name names, though it would take the fastest of Google searches to know who he was referring to.