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Rule change could make BBC iPlayer available across Europe

Wednesday, May 6th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

UK citizens may soon be able to use catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer and NOW TV across Europe.

The European Commission has made a number of suggestions as part of its Digital Single Market strategy.

These include modernising European copyright law with the aim of improving people’s access to “cultural content online”.

The commission says it particularly wants to ensure “that users who buy films, music or articles at home can also enjoy them while travelling across Europe”.

By the end of 2016, it also wants to complete “an ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules”.

This includes creating incentives for investment in high-speed broadband and more effective spectrum co-ordination across the continent.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Today, we lay the groundwork for Europe’s digital future.

“I want to see pan-continental telecoms networks, digital services that cross borders and a wave of innovative European start-ups.”

Mr Juncker said he also wants to see every consumer getting the best deals wherever they are in Europe.

“Exactly a year ago, I promised to make a fully Digital Single Market one of my top priorities. Today, we are making good on that promise.

“The 16 steps of our Digital Single Market strategy will help make the single market fit for a digital age."

'A digital future'

Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the Digital Single Market, described the strategy as “an ambitious and necessary programme of initiatives” that would help the EU to make a real difference.

“They prepare Europe to reap the benefits of a digital future. They will give people and companies the online freedoms to profit fully from Europe's huge internal market.

“The initiatives are inter-linked and reinforce each other. They must be delivered quickly to better help to create jobs and growth. The strategy is our starting point, not the finishing line.”

Commissioner for the digital economy and society Günther Oettinger said: “Our economies and societies are going digital. Future prosperity will depend largely on how well we master this transition.

“Europe has strengths to build on, but also homework to do, in particular to make sure its industries adapt, and its citizens make full use of the potential of new digital services and goods.

“We have to prepare for a modern society and will table proposals balancing the interests of consumers and industry.”

Other proposals put forward as part of the Digital Single Market strategy include a partnership with industry on cybersecurity and a plan to tackle illegal content online.

The suggestions come two months after the European Union pushed back to 2018 a decision on scrapping roaming charges for mobile phone users.

Both the European Commission and the European Parliament had agreed that roaming charges should be withdrawn by the end of the year, a move which expected to benefit about 500 million people.

But at a meeting in Brussels, ministers from the 28 EU member states effectively overruled that decision, and decided that the current charging structure could remain for another three years, before a proposed review in 2018.

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