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28.07.2017

ZVEI calls for innovation-friendly and user-oriented media regulation

ZVEI is committed to sustainable media regulation that is innovation-friendly and user-oriented. Equal opportunities and non-discrimination are mutual principles that content providers must also be able to enforce against less dominant platforms within the market. In order to rule out unequal treatment of comparable device groups, future platform regulation must be technology-neutral and device diagnostic.

Since 2009, the ZVEI has been actively involved within media policy and its developments which aim at understanding smart TV devices as part of the revised "platform regulation", an instrument of media  regulation. The background of the discussion is the increasing media convergence, from which new "dangers" for securing diversity are derived.

Due to narrow capacity passes in the infrastructure for broadcasting content, platform regulation has so far guaranteed non-discriminatory and equal access of content to viewers: so far, the addressees of platform regulation have therefore been infrastructure operators. Since earlier narrow capacity passes have largely been overcome by digitalization, the need for such an ex ante intervention in market structures no longer exists. From the point of view of media regulators, however, the need for regulation is now shifting to user interfaces and media platforms, which can control users' access to media content as potential gatekeepers. Broadcasters in particular are in favour of extending platform regulation to smart TV, which, as "content aggregators", play a decisive role in shaping public opinion.

This view ignores the fact that today's media diversity for users is greater and more easily accessible than ever before. A large number of terminal devices and platforms are in intense competition with each other and can only survive if they provide the greatest possible variety of relevant content.

Revision of the Interstate broadcasting treaty

In April 2017, the NRW state chancellery, which is responsible for platform regulation, published a first draft for the revisedInterstate Broadcasting Treaty. This extended the definition of media platforms to all "user interfaces that offer access to audiovisual media services". This would in future also include the channel lists of TV devices and app portals. At the same time, the platform operators would be obliged to give some (public law) content a high degree of visibility in the future. This means not only an interference into the organization sovereignty of platform operators but also a nationally ordered discrimination of smaller and innovative content offerers. ZVEIholds a different view here..

The draft also provides for restrictions overlays on the screen, which considerably patronizes users. Applications such as search and recommendation mechanisms, preview images and split screens could only be implemented on request by the user in individual cases.

Our ZVEI position

ZVEI is committed to sustainable media regulation that is innovation-friendly and user-oriented. Equal opportunities and non-discrimination are mutual principles that content providers must also be able to enforce against less market-strong platforms. In order to rule out unequal treatment of comparable device groups, future platform regulation must be technology-neutral and device diagnostic.

ZVEI expressed its concerns about the draft submitted both in a written statement and during the hearing of the associations in July 2017 (see download on the right).

In addition, ZVEI, together with the associations ANGA, bitkom and eco, published a position paper on the amendment to the platform regulation, which was accompanied by a joint press release (see download on the right).

At European level, the ZVEI is involved in the revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) with the same objectives. Once finalised, the requirements within this directive must also be transposed into national laws, such as the InterState Broadcasting Treaty in Germany.

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