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EDN Addresses Country-of-Origin Debate in Open Letter to EU Parliament


With a view on the ongoing debate regarding the country-of-origin principle and its implications for the creative sector, EDN decided to publish an open letter to the members of the European Parliament. The background for addressing the debate via this letter is strongly related to our wish to limit the Country-of-Origin Principle to 'News and Current Affairs' and to prevent its extension to other works throughout the creative industry in Europe — the letter is published in full in this news article.


Subject: Limiting the Country-of-Origin Principle to News and Current Affairs

Madam, Sir,

On the 21th of November 2017 - in the framework of the SatCab Regulation -  the JURI Committee of the European Parliament has taken an important decision by proposing to limit the Country-of-Origin principle to news and current affairs. We are convinced that this point-of-view contributes in a positive manner to the efforts made by the European Creative Industry to offer a wide range of TV programming of the highest quality to the European audiences, while safeguarding the principle of territoriality of copyright. An extension of the the same principle to other categories of works - typically those characterised by an exclusive use - would be detrimental to the sustainability of the independent European audiovisual community. The mandate to start the negotiations at the inter-institutional level was adopted with a large majority of votes cast: 15 in favour, 8 against and one abstention. The proposal was based on intensive work done by the different parliamentary committees CULT, IMCO and ITRE. In our opinion, the JURI report offers a good balance between the different interests at stake: increasing cross-border access to local content; support for the ongoing work on portability; the strengthening of our industry without impairing our competitiveness.

On the 12th of December 2017,  you will be asked in the plenary session to either confirm or to reject the proposal of the JURI committee to start the negotiations on the inter-institutional level. The European Documentary Network respectfully asks you to vote in favour of the launch of these negotiations. 

A negative vote could pave the way for proposals that - through the illusory liberalization represented by the extension of the country of origin principle (CoO) - would lead to lesser choice for consumers, to higher prices, to a decreased cultural diversity, a lowering of the quality of content available and a significant reduction of the number of European independent producers. Both the output and the availability of quality local content would be negatively affected by such a decision.  

The Commission's proposal for a regulation, far from ensuring the alleged expansion of the circulation of works in Europe, would then have the opposite effect. The interests of European citizens travelling will be already guaranteed, from March 2018 onward, by the Portability regulation. The interests of citizens residing in other Member States won't be served by rules that will reduce the audiovisual offering and preventing its diversification.  

The argument that the position adopted by the JURI committee would prevent citizens from cross-border access to audiovisual works (with the exception of news and current affairs) is false. Already today this access is made possible by multi-national licences and in these cases producers are equipped to handle international clearance operations. The Commission's impact analyses have not shown otherwise. 

Therefore we trust that we can count on your support for the European independent creative industry by supporting the JURI committee proposal in the December plenary session.


Yours faithfully,

Paul Pauwels


EDN - European Documentary Network

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