A vote to end justified geo-blocking is a vote to crush content and linguistic diversity in films and TV shows, shrink access options for Europeans and increase prices.
Citizens across the EU enjoy expansive access to culturally-diverse creative content – from music, films and TV shows to sports, books and videogames – a major benefit that could be lost if justified geo-blocking is not allowed. Geo-blocking provides the flexibility to adapt release schedules, marketing campaigns and prices for Europeans’ favourite content to local market realities, allowing consumers to benefit from affordable access to a wide variety of content from a plethora of access points.
Ending geo-blocking’s exclusive territorial licensing would threaten 10,000 European cinemas, access to over 8,500 European VOD films and up to half of European film budgets. What’s more, over 100 million European fans could pay more to view the same sports coverage, while major digital streaming platforms might be forced to introduce sharp hikes for consumers in many European countries. The ability to set prices as a function of local purchasing power would be lost and prices would be set at the level of higher-income Member States and this could lead to sharp hikes for consumers in many European countries. Specifically, ending justified geo-blocking could hit European consumers with a yearly bill in excess of €9.3 billion in additional costs to access content.
A vote to end justified geo-blocking is a vote to destroy 15 million creative sector jobs.
From lighting technicians to costume designers, 15 million talented Europeans are employed in Europe’s cultural sector, making it the third-largest employer in the EU. A geo-blocking ban could destabilise the entire sector and put all these jobs at risk. 80% of cultural sector workers–a workforce greater than the entire population of Belgium–who are employed by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly jeopardised.
Geo-blocking is essential to the cultural sectors, economic model, allowing content to be tailored for each region, catering to local languages and cultural preferences. Removing justified geo-blocking would deal a particular blow to SMEs, potentially driving them out of the market and leading to significant job losses among the very professionals that underpin Europe’s cultural diversity.
EU Economic Impact
A vote to end justified geo-blocking is a vote to jeopardise a €640 billion industry, largely made of SMEs.
Europe’s Creative and Cultural Industries (CCIs) are an economic powerhouse that would be at risk if geo-blocking is banned. Accounting for 4.4% of the EU’s GDP in terms of total turnover, the CCIs outstrip traditional heavyweight industries like telecommunications, high-tech, pharmaceuticals, and even the hospitality sector. To put the sector’s economic heft into perspective, the CCIs’ contribution is akin to the entire GDP of Sweden.
Ending justified geo-blocking could therefore cost Europe billions of euros. Without commercial freedom and/or territorial exclusivity, Europe’s cultural sectors would lose the financial model that enables the production, marketing and distribution of content that reflects Europe’s cultural diversity. What’s more, the SMEs employing the lion’s share of the sector would be the first to feel the impact, exposing the European economy to a significant shock. The introduction of pan-European licences would result in market concentration for both production, publishing and distribution, as only a handful of players would be able to compete on the European market, to the detriment of smaller players.
Justified versus unjustified geo-blocking.
Under EU law, specifically the Regulation (EU) 2018/302, unjustified geo-blocking is prohibited within the European Union. The regulation aims to ensure non-discrimination for access to goods and services online and to prevent discrimination based on nationality, place of residence, or place of establishment within the internal market.
However, there are justified reasons for geo-blocking under EU law, including applicable laws (such as restrictions on certain product sales in specific countries), matters of public interest (like restricting online gambling access), or the nature of goods or services (such as copyright or variations in technical standards).