The UK culture secretary Tessa Jowell says that new regulations are required to reflect the fact that television services are now being delivered via the net and mobile phones, but warns that “we don’t want to use a sledge-hammer to crack a nut”.
Speaking at The Creative Economy Conference in London, the culture secretary said that “regulation of these platforms will have an enormous impact on how they develop”, adding that “creativity and enterprise can’t flourish if they are beset by reams of red tape.”
“The worlds of culture and technology have collided, creating a universe of new possibilities, and new opportunities to access, consume and create content,” she said. “Instead of trying to hit a moving target by regulating yesterday’s innovation, we need to work together to focus on the outcomes we wish to achieve.”
Her speech followed The European Audiovisual Conference in Liverpool last month on the review of the European Union Television Without Frontiers directive.
Among the submissions at the London conference was a paper from Intellect, the UK trade association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and Electronics industries.
“Convergence is therefore changing the definition of what we still refer to today as ‘broadcasting’ and ‘telecoms’, however, we don’t yet have a clear picture of what the converged world will look like, even five years from now,” Intellect wrote in its submission to the European Commission.
“There is some concern that without some reforms traditional ‘linear only’ broadcasters could be marooned on an island of analogue regulation whilst their new media competitors enjoy much greater regulatory freedoms.”
“However, Intellect believes that in a market where technology innovation and multi-platform delivery are increasing the scope of competition the need to ‘level the playing field’ should not lead to the extension of old ‘analogue’ regulation to new emerging services – many of which do not even exist yet.”
Intellect observed that there is “a groundswell of industry unease and concern being articulated in the UK about the current proposals to extend the scope of the Television Without Frontiers Directive,” adding that it gives industry “little confidence that European policy makers properly understand or support the technology agenda.”
Intellect is calling on the European Commission to withdraw its commitment to publish a draft Audio Visual Content Directive by the end of the year and consider the consequences of a blanket extension of broadcasting regulation to new audio visual content services so as not to disadvantage the European Union by imposing too much regulation.