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The European Parliament has voted to re-assess the EU’s rules on geo-blocking, but will hold off extending any ban on geo-blocking to the audiovisual sector.

MEPs voted yesterday (December 14) to adopt a report which seeks to update the EU’s 2018 Geo-blocking Regulation, which prohibits unjustified geographical restrictions on the sale of goods and services within the EU but includes an exemption for film and TV.

Yesterday, a majority of MEPs voted to insert amendments into the report to preserve the exception for film and TV.

A key amendment stated that extending the rules to the audiovisual sector would result in a significant loss of revenue, threaten investment in new content, reduce the cultural diversity of content and decrease distribution channels, and ultimately raise prices for consumers.

Another amendment stated that “maintaining geo-blocking for copyrighted works and protected subject matter is one of the major tools for guaranteeing cultural diversity.”

In recent weeks, over 600 film and TV companies and associations from across Europe came together to sign a joint letter urging the European Parliament to oppose moves to ban geo-blocking by audiovisual services across the EU.

Geo-blocking underpins the functioning of the film and TV production and distribution markets in Europe, allowing titles to be exploited on a territory-by-territory basis.

However, it is clear that the European Parliament would like the audiovisual sector to do more to improve the accessibility of content for EU consumers.

A press release published yesterday by the European Parliament said that there had been limited improvement in the cross-border access to online catalogues of audiovisual content and live sports events. M They also advocate for a realistic timeframe so the audiovisual sector can adapt and ensure the preservation of cultural diversity and content quality.”

The geo-blocking report was adopted with 376 votes in favour, 111 against and 107 abstentions.

The European film and TV industries have welcomed the vote. Distributors organisation FIAD said after the vote, thanked the more than 100 MEPs who tabled pro-film audiovisual sector amendments for the plenary vote.

Robert Heslop, secretary general of FIAD, said: “Today’s vote sends a strong message to the European Commission and Member States that there is no appetite in the European Parliament for including the film-audiovisual sector in the scope of the Geo-blocking Regulation.”

European producers body CEPI called the vote a “significant victory for the preservation of European cultural diversity.” Susana Gato, president of CEPI said: “We welcome the decision taken by the European Parliament today. Terri MEPs have send a clear message today that this is something they want to uphold.

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