The European Council this week adopted a directive which will facilitate the licensing of copyright-protected material contained in such programmes so that they can be made available throughout the EU.

These new rules will provide wider access to online content for the European citizens and will enhance European cultural diversity, as rightholders will be adequately rewarded for their works.

Users increasingly expect to have access to television and radio programmes at a time and place of their choice. Broadcasting organisations are therefore increasingly offering, in addition to their traditional broadcasts of television and radio programmes, online services ancillary to their broadcast. Such services consist of parallel transmissions over the Internet (simulcasting) and the possibility to view or listen to a programme later than at the time of the original broadcast (catch-up services).

In order to make these services available across borders, broadcasting organisations need to clear the rights to works and other protected subject matter contained in their broadcasts for all relevant territories. The directive will facilitate this rights clearance by allowing broadcasting organisations to clear all relevant rights in the member state of their principal establishment.

The directive covers all radio programmes, TV news and current affairs programmes as well as TV programmes which are fully financed own productions of the broadcasting organisations. Existing contracts will remain unaffected for a period of four years from the entry into force of the directive. The Commission will assess the need for extending this coverage to additional types of TV programmes six years after the entry into force of the directive.

In addition, the directive facilitates the clearance of rights where a radio or TV programme broadcast in one member state is retransmitted simultaneously, unaltered and unabridged in another member state.

It covers retransmissions carried out via cable, satellite, digital terrestrial, closed circuit IP-based or mobile networks. It also covers retransmissions carried through the open internet provided that they take place in a managed environment, and they are subject to some kind of digital identification.