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Content portability rules adopted in Europe

europische Flaggen auf dem Kirchberg in LuxemburgThe European Council (EC) has adopted new rules that allow consumers who pay for online TV subscriptions in their home territory access them elsewhere in the EU.

The rules, which cover all forms of content services, were passed in May, meaning Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go customers will now be able to access those platforms while in other European territories.

The EU has hailed the move’s importance for Europe’s Digital Single Market policy, but content distributors remain concerned it rips up their territorial business model.

Essentially, distribution firms believe they will lose out on business from programmes or films they could have sold into individual territories.

The EU says measures to protect their business models will be adopted.

The rules only apply to paid-for services, though free-to-air services such as the BBC iPlayer provided by public service broadcasters can take up the system.

“Europeans travelling within the EU will no longer be cut off from online services such as films, sporting broadcasts, music, e-books or games they have paid for back home,” said the Maltese presidency of the EU in a statement.

“Together with the ending of roaming charges, this is important progress in creating a digital single market which benefits everyone.”

To avoid “abuses”, service providers are being asked to verify subscribers’ member state of residence.

The rules will start to apply from the first quarter of 2018.