January 11, 2021
As a result of Brexit the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) and the country of origin principle no longer apply to services under UK jurisdiction broadcast into the EU. However, the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT) framework applies, meaning that the 20 EU countries that have signed up to ECTT must allow freedom of reception to services under UK jurisdiction. How this right is given effect in each country may depend on national law and how the ECTT has been implemented locally.
The UK must also permit freedom of reception for services that originate from all countries that are party to the ECTT.
If your service is not available in the EU, you do not need to take any action. Your Ofcom licence is still valid even though the UK has left the EU. If your service is available in the EU, you may need two types of licences:
- an Ofcom licence for services receivable in the UK and in other ECTT countries (this includes the 20 EU countries that have signed and ratified the ECTT); and
- licences covering services receivable in EU countries that have not signed up to the ECTT.
The EU’s Notice to Stakeholders for audiovisual media services has confirmed that works originating in the UK continue to be classed as European Works.
There are two types of services coming to the UK from the EU:
- services from countries that have signed and ratified the ECTT; no action is needed for these; and
- services from one of the seven EU countries that have not signed and ratified the ECTT.
Services that are from countries that have not signed and ratified the ECTT need a licence from Ofcom to be received in the UK. Alternatively, the broadcaster can change the way it operates so it falls within the jurisdiction of another ECTT country.
The UK is committed to continued licence-free reception for TG4, RTÉ1 and RTÉ2 to reflect the commitments in the Good Friday agreement.
The ECTT does not have the same enforcement mechanisms as the AVMSD. There is a standing committee to resolve disputes, but this has not met since 2010. Article 26 of the ECTT also has provision for arbitration between ECTT parties.
The Guidance also sets out what organisations need to do, including checking that your licence is valid and getting local legal advice about your video on-demand services. To read the Guidance in full, click here.