Who controls access to digital TV?
Who would have thought that the simple touch of a button - your television remote control - could one day open up so many thousands of possibilities of programmes on every subject under the sun and in every language possible? With the arrival and development of digital television, the horizons of what is available on our screens have been pushed back so far as to be virtually boundless. Behind this dizzying offer lies an extremely complex structure of ownership and of the technical means of digital broadcasting.
The actual definition of control of the means of broadcasting as well as a clear understanding of the structures behind today's providers of digital television are becoming increasingly problematic. As the number of channels available increases, so the overall picture becomes more and more difficult to trace.
In light of the complexity of the ownership and control of digital television in Europe, certain fears have been expressed concerning our basic right to a free and pluralistic media. It would seem that it is becoming increasingly important in the European audiovisual industry to reflect, in this context, on questions such as:
These questions and reflections on possible answers form the basis of an new report:
IRIS Special: Regulating Access to Digital Television
in which the European Audiovisual Observatory examines the rise of digital television and the very real challenge posed to European and national legislation by the question of regulation of the access to this new media.
Clearly, the rise of digital television and the regulation of access to this new medium throws a new slant on the classical perceptions of regulation of the media as the guardian of freedom of expression and information. This new study represents perhaps the most comprehensive attempt yet to explain the technical functioning of this medium and to examine the very real dangers of media concentration represented by digital television, if European or national regulation does not keep pace with the growth and development of digital television.
As it is impossible to understand the social end economic aspects of this question without the technical background information, this IRIS Special is also accompanied by a detailed digital television glossary as an invaluable guide to understanding this increasingly complex technical field.
IRIS Special: Regulating Access to Digital Television, 2004,
For further information on this IRIS Special, click here.
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