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Back When, how and where can we access European films and series? Release windows and territoriality in the spotlight...

The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new in-depth analysis of European media law
When, how and where can we access European films and series? Release windows and territoriality in the spotlight...

Download "Territoriality and release windows in the European audiovisual sector" here


We're looking at the rules in Europe concerning when, how and where we access our content.

The principle of release windows as well as the notion of territoriality (country by country distribution) have long been the cornerstone of the European financing and exploitation model for films and programmes. 

This new report - Territoriality and release windows in the European audiovisual sector - explores current EU legislation and market practice concerning release windows and territoriality - "the when, how and where" films and series may be made available to European audiences. Our report also draws in the views of the industry, very much impacted by any rules concerning these parameters. 
Chapter one sets the scene with a useful current definition of release windows. The authors explain the dramatic impact of the pandemic on the structure of release windows, given that cinema exploitation halted under lockdown and streaming consumption rocketed. An analysis of release windows post-COVID follows. This chapter also looks at the various factors influencing how well European content travels across borders.
Chapter two details the various EU legal texts which have a bearing on territoriality and release windows, especially copyright and competition law, and discusses the stakeholder dialogue on access to and availability of audiovisual content in the EU. 
Chapter three dives deeper into the different national rules applied to release windows throughout Europe. The length of release windows can be stipulated on a national level by legislation, in the rules of public funding bodies, for example, or indeed by case-by-case contractual arrangements or industry-wide agreements. The authors point to extreme differences in approach between the countries studied. Streamers in Bulgaria can show a film just three months after cinema release, for example, whereas the delay in Belgium is a minimum of 26 months. This chapter describes in detail legislative provisions in France and Bulgaria, and public funding rules in Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Italy. The authors also include an overview table of the various national approaches throughout Europe as an annex. 
Chapter four takes stock of views expressed by the industry on both the territoriality and the release windows questions. In particular, this chapter details the replies from nine different stakeholders to the European Commission’s request for proposals on how to improve the online availability of and cross border access to films and programmes throughout Europe. 
Chapter five walks us through recent EU case law in this field and chapter six gives us a state of play overview in which the authors conclude: "Maybe both territoriality and windows are simply never-ending stories because they are constants in the complex equation that is the European audiovisual sector."
A must-read new free report to understand the current situation in Europe regarding territoriality and release windows. 


Strasbourg 6 July 2023
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