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06 Jan 2010



Brussels, 6 January 2010 – In a submission today to the European Commission concerning

a Reflection Paper on a reform of the copyright system from October 2009, the Association

of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) stresses its opposition to some possible reforms

flagged in the paper. While the Commission argues that reforms may be needed in order to

respond to the development of new business models as well as to changing consumer

demand, commercial broadcasters do not see the need for such a radical move.


Ross Biggam, Director General ACT, highlighted: “Our experience is that existing

copyright regimes have proved quite adaptable to the new media environment. The current

rights licensing system is based on long standing commercial practices, jurisprudence and

international, European and national regulation. We do not regard the fact that some

negotiations have broken down as anything other than a normal commercial reality and it

certainly does not in itself justify a complete overhaul of the copyright framework. This is a

matter for negotiation, not for legislation”.


Commercial broadcasters represent one of the key players in the content industry as they

are at the same time creators, investors and distributors of content, thus being both owners

and mass users of copyright. Latest studies reveal the important role that cultural and

creative sectors play within the European economy, generating a turnover of more than €

650 billion annually, employing more than 3% of the EU work force. But the cultural and

creative industries comprise many different sectors including music, television, book or print

businesses. The Reflection Paper looks in a broad sense at a reform of the copyright system

without differentiating between the specific needs of each of these sectors or the many

different categories of rights they require.


For the television industry, there are two main elements which need to be safeguarded in

order to be able to maintain a sustainable level of investment in new content: the concept of

exclusivity and the current system of release windows. Exclusivity enables broadcasters to

show the content they produced or acquired on an exclusive basis, while release windows

relate to films and the different platforms they are being sold to and then appear on, such as

cinema, DVDs, pay-TV and free-to-air television. To put it simply – attractive content costs

money. And the ACT believes that re-investment in all genres of content – including sports,

professional journalism or original drama – should be encouraged. It is against this

background that the ACT opposes the suggestion from the European Commission to

introduce a European Copyright Title. When introducing such a Title, the Commission

underestimates the difficulties and complications such a change would bring along.


Christian Hauptmann, Chairman ACT IPR Working Group & Deputy General Counsel

RTL Group, stressed: “The future system for copyright should first and foremost ensure a

sustainable environment for creativity and cultural diversity where creators of audiovisual

content are rewarded for their works and rights holders can commercialise and protect their

content in order to obtain a return on investment, which will be used to finance new content.

Existing mechanisms such as release windows and exclusivity of content should be kept in

place as they represent the core of our business and enable us to continuously reinvest in

content and services to satisfy consumer demand”.



About the ACT:

The Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) represents the interests of the commercial

broadcasting sector in Europe. Formed in 1989, the ACT has thirty member companies active in 34

European countries. Our members operate several hundred free-to-air and pay-tv channels and

distribute many more channels and new services. The ACT members encompass several business

models: free-to-air broadcasters and pay-TV players, digital platform operators and multimedia groups.


Press Contact

Ross Biggam

Director General

Phone: +32 2 738 76 13

GSM: +32 477 407 733


Utta Tuttlies

Head of Communications

Phone : +32 2 738 76 18

GSM : +32 495 246 467

E-mail :


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