Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Viviane's 'light touch' to Europe's IST and Media industry

Viviane Reding is the European commissioner on Information Society Technology and Media. She is the first commissioner with a combined post for IST and media. Because the EC is convinced that information society and media fields are converging. Offcourse they are right. In this difficult field Reding has to set up a new regulatory framework to update the Television without Frontiers Directive of 1995. The new 'Audio Visual Content without Border Directive' already in its', this title already shows the new approach, no longer is television the main field, but it is defined in a broader sense. Reding says:Convergence is closely coupled with cultural, economic and network issues which form an integral part of the Information Society:

  • From a cultural perspective, it challenges the traditional relationship between content creation, the media and the consumer.
  • From an economic perspective, we are confronted by a high pace of development of new actors in the value chain, the "creative destruction" of established positions and changing consumption modes.
  • From a networking perspective, the emergence of the Internet as one of the major vehicles of converged services has the capacity to challenge the sustainability of traditional business models in the sector.

It is the Commission's task to ensure that the right framework for the digital convergence and for investment in ICT is in place. This is Europe's best bet for delivering sustained growth and skilled jobs.

Reding approaches this with a 'light touch' Light but Europe wide rules offering one single basic framework instead of 25 different legal regimes. With the 'light touch' a lot is left to strong user control, but with a task for protection of minors and fight against the incitement of racial hatred. This needs to cross national regulatory borders an fill in a regulatory 'gap'. At the same time there needs to be minimal harmonization so that the country-of-origin of content stays identifiable, this is imperative for a legal framework to develop new audiovisual content services. Not to build 'chinese walls' but to identify the content work in the legal framework it has to oblige to the regulation of its' country's origin.

The light touch is also ment not to strangle new nascent audiovisual content services giving them maximum freedom to develop.