CONSULTATIONS ON CERTAIN AUDIOVISUAL SERVICES
1. Reasons for expanding the consultation process
The consultation process on audiovisual services held in February 1999 resulted in a considerable degree of consensus being achieved on a number of principles and positions in the run-up to the forthcoming negotiations. This consultation process nevertheless provided only partial solutions for some activities carried out by audiovisual services, such as the provision of recreational software. Furthermore, there were fundamental differences in the positions adopted by operators from the music sector.
In view of both these points and given that deliberations are continuing in the cinema and television sectors, the Commission should continue to examine the situation in order to clarify its negotiating position.
Two specific questionnaires on music and recreational software have been drawn up in order to obtain comments from the professionals and European organisations involved in such activities which will make it easier to identify the interests concerned.
The results of the consultations with professional groups in February 1999 are presented below.
2. Results of the consultation process launched in February 1999
Predominance of defensive interests over offensive interests. The justification for policies on audiovisual services and cultural diversity has been strengthened by the significant degree of penetration in the European market.
Support for all the efforts made as a result of the GATS in order to cover existing national and Community measures and future measures. The uncertainty surrounding the real nature of future markets means that the countries concerned must have absolute room for manoeuvre so that they can make any necessary adjustments to instruments of audiovisual policy.
Need for widespread coverage of audiovisual services including all the new forms of communication (especially on-line communication) and all types of audiovisual material (including multimedia and interactive material).
Differing opinions among music professionals which point to a need for further consultations with this sector. Representatives from the audiovisual sector asked that the offensive interests claimed by one organisation in this sector should be quantified. They also expressed doubts about the appropriateness of dealing with the music sector separately, saying that this would weaken the sector's defensive strategy.
Preliminary position of professionals from the field of recreational software which requires more thorough examination.
Clear interest in copyright issues, which fall more within the remit of the WTO/TRIPs than GATS, however.