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Bruno Zambardino • Professor of Economics and Organisation of Media and Entertainment

A more dynamic market than ever thanks to new devices (III)


- Cineuropa caught up with Bruno Zambardino, professor of Economics and Organisation of the Media and Entertainment at the Sapienza University of Rome

Bruno Zambardino  • Professor of Economics and Organisation of Media and Entertainment

The transmedial revolution currently underway is leading to a use of audiovisual products that is reshaping consumption models. We talked about it with Bruno Zambardino, who has taught Economics and Organisation of the Media and Entertainment at the Sapienza University in Rome for 10, and published his book Dal possesso all’accesso - L’industria audiovisiva ai tempi dello streaming (lit. From possession to access – the audiovisual industry in the age of streaming) a few months ago.

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Cineuropa: Most European films never reach their potential audiences. These are hard to identify when the film is still in its early stages. Investments aren’t recovered and there’s a clear cultural as well as a market problem. The European Commission is pushing to review legislation to increase alignment and bring in new stakeholders. What do you think are the most effective things being done at European policy level to support the audiovisual sector?
Bruno Zambardino: ICT can’t just be seen as a specific sector these days, it’s the foundation of any modern economic system. Indeed, the Internet, digital technologies and mobile devices are reshaping traditional forms of communicating, finding and exchanging information by making the web a privileged space in which individuals and companies interact and conclude transactions.

It’s a real revolution that’s taking place globally. The socio-economic context we live in is throwing up immense opportunities for innovation, growth and employment at a rapid and unstoppable pace.

This, combined with the consideration that the benefits of the digital society can be better capitalised on with greater coordination at European level, has led the European Commission to make it one of their priorities to pursue the creation of a digital single market in which consumers are ensured free access to services and content through their electronic devices in Europe, without national limitations and/or unjustified geographical discrimination, and in which companies are guaranteed a level playing field on which to offer their goods and services under a harmonised regulatory framework, allowing them to be more competitive globally. The Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy was adopted on 6 May 2015 and has been received very positively by all stakeholders. The strategy outlined by the Commission rests on three pillars and sixteen points of action. The main points are the revision of TLC rules, the issue of the local nature of copyright and the modernisation of audiovisual media rules. Indeed, 30 September marked the end of the public consultation launched by the European Commission on 6 July to see which parts of Directive 2010/13/EU on audiovisual media services are suitable as they stand, as part of the programme for checking the suitability and effectiveness of current regulations.

There are six big key issues: guaranteeing equal conditions for audiovisual media services; providing the best possible level of protection for consumers; ensuring the protection of the user and banning incitement to hatred and discrimination; promoting European audiovisual content; strengthening the single market; strengthening the freedom and pluralism of means of communication, access to information and the accessibility of content for disabled persons.

These alone are reason enough to radically rewrite the regulatory framework drawn up in the analogue age.

The first point concerns the excessively limited scope of the Directive (applying only to TV broadcasts, on-demand and “television-like” services) and the urgency with which it needs to be extended to online video-sharing platforms and intermediaries, which are, as we know, currently governed by the E-Commerce Directive which exempts them, under certain conditions, from liability for the content they broadcast. The Commission’s aim is to thoroughly investigate the role played by these operators to understand if and how they can be involved in the promotion and enhancement of audiovisual works in terms of programming and investment (also through co-regulation agreements between the parties involved).

The second key issue, which is intrinsically linked to the first, concerns the age-old question of the geographic context in which these operators are established. The issue here is to evaluate whether or not companies that target audiences in EU Member States but are established outside of the EU need to be brought under the scope of the Directive. One solution could be to ask these providers to register themselves or post a representative in a Member State (for example, the main country they target themselves at).

It’s worth remembering that the Commission already took action in this area just two years ago, publishing the green paper “Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values”. The decision to open the EU to comparison once again shows that the consumption of audiovisual works and the related system through which content is offered and funded is undergoing radical change, and what’s more, at surprising speed. It confirms that the progress of digital technology is the main vector of innovation for systems that are more established and resistant to change in the audiovisual system of the West.

(Translated from Italian)

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