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On-demand services: French CSA advocates simpler and more flexible rules

posted on 23 January, 2014   (public)

On-demand services: French CSA advocates simpler and more flexible rules

On 23 December 2013, the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA), the French regulatory authority in charge of broadcasting regulation, published a report on the first year of application of the Decree No. 2010-1379 of 12 November 2010 on on-demand audiovisual media services.  The Decree lays down the scheme for on-demand services to contribute to the production of cinematographic and audiovisual works as well as the provisions to guarantee the offer of cinematographic and audiovisual works of European origin or made originally in the French language and to ensure their effective exploitation. In addition to assessing the implementation of legal provisions in practice, the report recommends amending certain provisions to boost a more competitive and sustainable VOD market in France. The report even goes a step further by promoting harmonisation at European level, to fend off distortions which are likely to harm the European market.

One of the key proposals is to ​​simplify the regulation currently governing on-demand audiovisual services in France.  The CSA recommends the adoption of the same threshold of 20 works for the application of financial obligations and for the application of quotas of European works laid down in the Decree. The Council also suggests that the obligations for service providers to finance the production of films apply globally to the linear TV service and its related catch-up service. Finally, it advises the government to abandon the requirement that the obligations concerning French or European works are applicable "at any given time" in favour of an annual assessment applicable to both catch-up and VoD services. It is also envisaged to relax - under certain conditions - the obligations to promote European works for specific thematic services.

The second part of the report makes proposals aimed at improving the competitiveness of on-demand audiovisual media services. In the CSA's view, the chronology of the media should be made more flexible by reducing the media windows for catch-up services to three months (currently four months), to 24 months for subscription VoD (36 months) and by limiting the freezing of rights to four weeks. In addition, the authority suggests that the government should seize the opportunity of the review of the AVMS Directive to clarify its scope in order to include service distributors. Last but not least, the introduction of a notification procedure and a system of voluntary agreements for on-demand audiovisual services should also be aimed for, as well as a tax reform in the sector, currently extremely diversified in Europe.

In its conclusion, the CSA advocates further harmonisation of the rules at European level, as a prerequisite to the creation of the digital single market and to promote competitiveness against international players. Such a harmonisation also requires giving some thought to the country of establishment principle which currently determines the jurisdiction of Member States and the applicable law.

Source: Website of the French CSA

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