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Looking Ahead: Broadcast meets Internet and Mobile

This month's articles take a look at the increasing convergence of classic broadcast audio visual content and the provision of audio visual content available on the internet and via mobile. While people are still watching 25-35 hours of television per week¹, will this be the norm in a few years' time?

June 2011

It is likely that more and more of us will be using our televisions less to watch content in favour of other media and/or that we will be purchasing television sets more like our computers.  This prediction is illustrated by the huge success of YouTube, now the second largest search engine in the world. Over 2 billion people watch video on YouTube every day, with 24 hours of video being uploaded to the site every minute. This suggests that online has taken a significant bite out of linear broadcast. While the majority of people enjoy watching live programmed television, as opposed to content on demand, this could change as more of us switch to internet television and greater investment is made in on demand and iplayer type services. 

The current legal and regulatory framework largely supports the classic broadcast model. This month we explore the new challenges that framework is going to have to face, as more of us spend less time watching television as we now know it. Some of the key issues are as follows:

  • Content providers are accustomed to selling content with territorial broadcast restrictions. This model could be under threat. The issue is currently being explored in the joint European cases of Football Association Premier League and others v QC Leisure and others and Murphy v Media Protection Services Limited (C-403/08 and C-429/08). These cases concern the use of overseas satellite cards in this country to receive broadcasts of Premier League Football matches, thereby bypassing territorial broadcasting restrictions. The Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently advised the ECJ that freedom to provide services under European law precludes the Government from prohibiting the use of these sorts of satellite cards, where those cards have been placed on the market in another European Member State with the consent of the broadcast rights holder. Adam Rendle explores whether European competition law may mean that providers of video on demand services are unable to restrict the provision of their services to certain countries, such that they must make their content available within Europe generally.
  • Tony Ghee and Adam Rendle discuss the Video On Demand industry’s relatively new regulator, ATVOD (the Authority for Television On Demand). This new regulator is fairly controversial, primarily because of the costs it is charging for participants to be in the market. It is fair to say that the industry has not met it with open arms. While ATVOD may keep the UK VOD industry in hand, the internet knows few international boundaries. What about content which has been produced and uploaded outside the UK but is made available to viewers in the UK via the Internet? Will it remain the position that content is unregulated by UK regulators?
  • As it becomes increasingly easier to bypass traditional television advertising, particularly by fast forwarding it, advertisers are going to have become ever more creative in seeking opportunities to raise brand profile within the content itself. Recently, the UK has loosened the rules on product placement and it is now possible for advertisers to pay for their products to be featured in broadcast television. Justine Wilkie explores the new rules.
  • Aside from the competition issues which may, in future, prevent broadcasters from restricting the provision of content on the internet to particular jurisdictions, there are other territorial issues to consider. What happens when broadcasters outside the jurisdiction make their content available within the jurisdiction, thus undermining the local broadcaster's market? Would UK copyright be infringed if a German broadcaster were to make that same content accessible in the UK? From a copyright law perspective, where is that work made available? This is a question which has been referred to the ECJ in relation to database rights in the case of Football Dataco Limited and others v Sportradar GmbH.  Mark Dennis explores this issue and also the recent High Court decision that unauthorised live streaming of content constitutes copyright infringement.
  • Finally, is broadband in the UK adequate to support consumption of media via the internet and mobile platforms, rather than classic broadcast? mobile platforms Will there be sufficient spectrum available to accommodate those who want to view content via the internet in future. Obama's administration wants to free up 300 megahertz over the next five years for wireless Internet. Is the UK's wireless infrastructure sufficiently robust to cope with what's coming? We take a look at these issues.

If you have any questions on this article please contact us.

¹ Deloitte Technology, Media & Communications predictions 2011

Looking ahead
Lorna Caddy

Lorna Caddy

"Over 2 billion people watch video on YouTube every day, with 24 hours of video being uploaded to the site every minute"