IRIS Plus 2009-6: The "Telecoms Review": New Impetus for Audiovisual Media?

Author: Sebastian Schweda, Institute of European Media Law (EMR) Saarbrücken/Brussels

Published: 01/11/2009

Audiovisual media services are subject to a wide variety of rules and regulations – some well known, others less so, some specific, others more general, some crucial and others less important. Exactly which rules spring immediately to mind depends on the chosen point of view, just as a mountaineer can appreciate different panoramas from different positions on a mountain peak. This issue of IRIS plus looks at aerials, satellite dishes and cable networks, as well as other parts of the infrastructure that is essential for the transmission of information. It considers the rules under which the communications infrastructure is used to "transport" audiovisual content to users. Where do the lawmakers intervene? Where is the market decisive? What role is played by the increasing digitisation of the media?

In short, this IRIS plus deals with communications regulation, which connects infrastructure and content.

First and foremost, therefore, it examines the review of the European telecommunications regulatory framework, a subject with which the European Council and Parliament are still grappling. The lead article is as multilayered as the theme itself. Market regulation, spectrum policy, new distribution methods, interoperability, network neutrality, investment protection, "must-carry" obligations, access to information, fundamental rights, universal services and data protection are just a few key phrases linked to the various aspects of communications regulation. Three of these aspects, i.e. market regulation, "must-carry" obligations and access to information, are then examined in greater depth in the "Related Reporting" section. Regarding the last of these aspects, the question of the balance between access to information and copyright law, the views of European lawmakers have differed to such a degree in recent months that the legislative procedure is still awaiting completion. On the other hand, ZOOM concentrates not on legislation, but on the national authorities responsible for regulating the communications market. It lists the institutions which are entrusted with this task in each Member State of the European Audiovisual Observatory and gives details of their homepages, constituent legal instruments and of the main national laws on communications regulation. The legal sources themselves can be found, mostly in English, via the links provided.

Come with us, then, to the top of the mountain of communications regulation and enjoy the clear insights provided by this edition of IRIS plus!