How can policymakers maximise growth of the EU digital economy?
Since the launch of the Lisbon process in 2000 and the i2010 strategy in 2005, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector has been in the limelight of EU policies. The significance of the ICT sector for the EU's economy is overwhelming, as it is responsible for a quarter of EU GDP growth and 40% of productivity growth. One of the most important areas within i2010 concerns the creation and delivery of information and contents. Information, since freedom of information is at the heart of European democracy; contents, since the creative sector of Europe and its growing cultural industries have an increasing impact on the digital economy.
An open and competitive internal market for information society services needs deregulation where feasible and future proofed approaches. But due to their relevance for democratic and social structures of society, cultural and media services are at the same time cultural and economic services and therefore require a sector-specific regulation.
In order to maximise the growth of the EU digital economy also for media services, the European Parliament has pushed for the audiovisual media services directive (AVMS), which is going to enter into force by the end of 2007 and is going to replace the current "TV without Frontiers" directive.
The AVMS directive covers traditional broadcasting services on the basis of fixed programme schedules in analogue or digital technology (linear services) and additionally, new on-demand TV-like services (non-linear services). With this scope, the AVMS directive creates, for the first time, an internal market for non-linear AVMS on the basis of the country of origin principle. As the definition of AVMS is technology-neutral, this is a future proofed regulation for content.
The new directive provides a two-step approach for the regulation of linear and non-linear AVMS, depending on the level of control the user can exercise on the service. For the first time in an EU-directive, Member States shall encourage co- and self-regulatory regimes at national level, especially for non-linear AVMS services, in order to facilitate a new deregulatory approach for internet-based media services.
are the new principles which strengthen the digital economy and take into account the cultural characteristics of these services.
With the new AVMS directive, media content is going to be able to circulate freely within the EU. But in the following areas, which support free circulation, an updating of the EU approach and/ or regulation is required to be of benefit to the European digital content market:
digital economy is gathering speed, but, in order not to hamper its development,
adequate action and guidelines need to be put into practice urgently,
especially in the fields of spectrum management, interoperability and