8 JUL 2022

European commercial broadcasters reject network fees

The members of the Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT) expressed their concerns following recent statements on creating a network fee to finance telecom infrastructures.

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The members of the Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT) expressed their concerns following recent statements on creating a network fee to finance telecom infrastructures.

“We understand the need for strong, widely available telecoms infrastructure in Europe which, among other things, helps European consumers access high quality TV and VOD services. However, ‘taxing’ high bandwidth services is counterproductive and risks having unintended consequences, including on consumer rights and net neutrality principles. To this end, we strongly oppose any calls for network fees or other types of ‘direct contributions’ to finance the ongoing telecoms infrastructure development in Europe,”  the Association said in a press release.

“Broadcasters and on demand services are already subject to vast investment obligations and levies to support European culture and diversity, often representing double-digit proportions of their total revenues. Similarly, we all contribute through taxes and jobs. Conversely, those obligations do not apply to video-sharing platforms and social networks, which benefit from large regulatory asymmetries and with which AVMS providers now compete directly. Additionally, ACT members are already investing significantly in content delivery networks, directly or via partners, to ensure a smooth delivery of their content. Furthermore, our sector supports ISPs by allowing Europeans to derive value from the premium broadband connections they purchase from the telecoms companies to watch our content,”  ACT added.

The statements to which ACT refers is about an intention to generate network fees based on bandwidth use in Europe. “Besides the complete lack of accurate evidence provided to corroborate such plans, requiring AVMS providers, among others, to pay direct contributions to large telecom companies would cause a number of issues; not just to the audiovisual industry, but to the European creative sector as a whole, including for consumers and on pricing. More money paid in network fees would in fact mean less money to invest in content, which in turn means less content available or lower quality content. This is unacceptable,”  ACT concluded.