Insights European Parliament approves the Directive on rights clearance for certain online broadcasts and retransmissions of TV and radio programmes


In September 2016, the European Commission proposed a Regulation to facilitate the licensing of rights for certain online transmissions of broadcasters and retransmissions of television and radio programmes. As part of the political agreement reached on 13 December 2018, the EU co-legislators agreed to turn the proposed Regulation into a Directive.

The European Parliament has now adopted its first reading position on the proposed Directive.

This Directive complements the rules set out in the existing Satellite and Cable Directive (93/83/EEC), which facilitates cross-border satellite broadcasting and retransmission by cable of TV and radio programmes from other Member States.

The rules governing broadcasters’ online ancillary services will apply to all radio programmes, and to certain television programmes (news and current affairs programmes and broadcasters’ own fully financed productions).

The new Directive addresses rights clearance in two ways:

  1. extension of the principle of the “country of origin”: the rights required to make certain programmes available on the broadcasters’ ancillary online services (for instance their simulcasting or catch-up services) will have to be cleared only for the broadcaster’s country of principal establishment (instead of all Member States in which the broadcaster wishes to make its programmes available). The licence fee paid by the broadcasters to right holders will have to reflect the audience of the programmes. The intention of the EU legislator to encourage the making available of content online in other Member States as well;
  2. extension of the system of mandatory collective management: an extension beyond cable to retransmission services provided through other means (such as Internet Protocol television (IPTV), satellite, digital terrestrial or Internet). In principle, this means that the platforms negotiate carriage deals with broadcasters and clear the underlying rights. The new rules may allow retransmission operators to offer to their users more channels from across the European Union.

The Directive also offers a complex legislative fix to the issue of so-called ‘direct injection’

The text adopted by the European Parliament will have to be formally endorsed by the Council of the European Union. Once published in the Official Journal of the EU, Member States will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation. To access the legislative resolution, click here. To read the Commission’s Fact Sheet, click here. To read the Commission’s announcement welcoming the European Parliament’s vote, click here.