Charlotte Lund-Thomsen explores the industry efforts to maintain commercial freedom to use geoblocking tools
Territorial exclusivity plays a key role in the film and television industry’s ability to raise the necessary funding to produce ambitious content and ensure the best possible marketing and distribution of such content to domestic markets as well as abroad. This premise is shared by the entire film and TV sector in Europe and across the world – see also the example of a joint declaration from the entire European industry here.
For years, the film and audiovisual industry has been challenged by EU legislative efforts to reduce the commercial freedom to work with territorial exclusivity – often considered incompatible with e.g., the European Union Single Market and/or consumer interests. Most recently, the European Parliament has again raised criticism over the film and television industry’s continued use of geo-blocking technology to support territorial exclusivity arrangements. Industry efforts continue to maintain the commercial freedom to use geo-blocking technology – through coordinated and sustained advocacy efforts vis-à-vis relevant EU decision makers at the European Parliament, Member State and the European Commission.
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The importance of territorial exclusivity for the European film and television industry has been widely documented, for example by the European Audiovisual Observatory and recently also by the European Parliament’s Research Service. The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes ongoing research documenting the development of online offers of film and television content to European consumers. According to the EAO, on average, European consumers have access to more than 8,500 European films online, of which 82% (~7000) are produced in other European countries – an exponential growth in content and services offered to consumers welcomed by the film and television industries.
Research by Oxera, The impact of including AV in the EU Geoblocking Regulation, indicates that erosion of territorial exclusivity and interference with the use of geo-blocking by the film and television industries would have a significantly harmful effect on consumers (“significant short-term impact on industry and consumers, with up to €9.3bn of welfare lost per annum—as well as medium- to long-term outcomes that would be worse than they are today (a welfare loss of up to €4.5bn per year).”