Call for EU-wide fight against pay-TV piracy

7 Oct 2008

With the emergence of new visual media platforms such as video on demand, mobile TV and IPTV (internet protocol television), the European Commission has called for Europe-wide protection against cross-border piracy in the pay-TV space.

The Commission has set up a group in which government experts will exchange information and good practice, and proposes that the EU ratify the Council of Europe’s European Convention on the Legal Protection of Services based on Conditional Access.

The Commission has also hit out at the sluggish growth of cross-border conditional access services on offer, and intends to put together a complete picture of the potential of cross-border markets, especially as many Europeans tend to move around the continent.

Over the past 10 years, the pay-TV industry has benefited from the EU-wide protection under Directive 98/84/EC. But now the directive needs to be updated to protect citizens and service providers.

The Commission said that efforts to combat piracy against conditional access systems have varied from state to state, depending on penalties and technical expertise. It calls for heftier penalties against the possession of such items as decoders that allow people to avoid having to pay for their TV.

New and thriving types of services such as video on demand, online streaming and mobile TV will use conditional access systems to restrict access to paying customers.

More information will be needed by the Commission, however, before it decides on issues such as copyright or exclusive broadcasting rights for sporting events.

Of particular interest will be the ability for ex-pats to watch their home TV services, and the EU will examine potential markets for distribution of TV and movies beyond national borders.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years