The European Union is poised to develop a regulatory framework to govern future developments in media capacity and delivery, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said June 1.


BRUSSELS (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The European Union is poised to develop a regulatory framework to govern future developments in media capacity and delivery, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said June 1.

"It is now the moment to seize the opportunities of this new economic and technological development," Reding said as she unveiled the i2010 initiative, which spans movie- and music-playing technologies, high-speed broadband networks and electronic devices.

Reding said the European Commission -- the EU's executive body -- would use the five-year plan to combine EU laws to create a modern, market-oriented regulatory framework for the digital economy. She said a key priority would be to foster the fastest and highest-quality movie- and music-playing technologies.

She said the commission is planning to abolish outdated rules that stifled the development of the communications and media industries. This would take place alongside the ongoing modernization of EU rules on audiovisual content services in the review of the EU's Television Without Frontiers directive.

"These are currently limited to traditional broadcasting and still reflect to a large extent the technology and the regulatory thinking of the 1980s," Reding said.

The commissioner said the potential for audiovisual capabilities was massive. She said figures show that European markets for online content could triple growth in the next three years to reach €30 billion ($37 billion), 3G technologies are rising exponentially and ringtones have a global market estimated at €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion).

The i2010 plans aim to have half of all EU households connected to high-speed broadband networks by 2010.

"Digital convergence is actually happening. Voice-over-Internet protocols, Web TV, online music, movies on mobile telephones -- all this is now reality," Reding said. "We must provide a coherent regulatory framework for Europe's digital economy that is market-oriented, flexible and future-proof."

The announcement came as the commission revealed figures showing a speedy adoption of high-speed broadband Internet connections. There are now 40 million broadband lines in the EU, an increase of 70% over last year. This represents 45,000 new broadband lines on average per day, up from 29,000 per day in 2003.